No Time to Lose: A Search for Work / Life Balance

Hurry up: slow down to save the Earth by notimetolose
February 29, 2008, 1:10 pm
Filed under: environmentalism | Tags: ,

Reposted from:

Hurry up: slow down to save the Earth
We can’t afford to burn so much energy trying to save time.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
by Albert Koehl

One thing is clear about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s approach to the urgent problem of climate change: He is in no hurry.

He may be on to something.

In fact, if everyone slowed down we would more quickly reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Going about our lives in a hurry means using a lot of energy usually from fossil fuels like oil, natural gas, and coal. Burning these fuels releases stored carbon into the atmosphere as a heat-trapping gas.

On holidays, we rush to relax by loading up ATVs, Ski-Doos, powerboats, jet-skis and other energy-sucking machines.

Our transportation choices are generally motivated by the desire for speed. We choose cars for personal travel, just-in-time truck delivery systems for business, and airplanes for travel between cities, even nearby ones. As a result, more than one quarter of all Canadian GHG emissions are from motor vehicles.

Slower options are not popular. Walking to the transit stop, waving hello to neighbours, and taking a bus to work produces far fewer emissions than going by car. Cycling may take even longer but GHG emissions are zero. Taking a train between cities like Montreal and Toronto instead of a plane cuts emissions dramatically, as does delivering goods by train rather than truck.

When we get home, the race to save time continues. Leaf blowers, power mowers and clothes dryers get things done fast, at the expense of high energy use. In Ontario, the use of clothes dryers alone results in 700,000 tonnes of GHGs each year because much of the power comes from burning coal. The so-called phantom load constantly draws electricity so that appliances like TVs jump into action at the touch of a button and electronic displays announce the time — all the time.

Hanging clothes under the sun and exercising with a rake or push mower reduces power demand. The phantom load would disappear with simple manufacturing changes, or some power bars. And slowing down to adjust the thermostat on your way out the door can pay big GHG-reduction dividends.

Big business is in a big hurry too, especially to extract the country’s natural resources. There is, for example, such a rush to exploit the tar sands that we use absurd amounts of natural gas to coax oil out of the sand and upgrade it. We sell the product to Americans, who squander much of it on big, fast cars. The federal government prods the industry to go faster with $1.5 billion in tax breaks each year. (Even former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed has begun pushing for a “slow down” in tar sands development.)

Our daily lives are fast-moving but it’s on our holidays that the pace reaches break-neck speeds. We rush to relax by loading up ATVs, Ski-Doos, powerboats, jet-skis, and other energy-sucking machines behind or atop giant SUVs in a veritable emissions-making frenzy. Others escape the din by embarking on epic air (the fastest growing source of global GHG emissions) and cruise voyages to see it all, fast.

Longer vacations and shorter work weeks might help us slow down — a change in attitude would help more.

Perhaps our society’s most amazing achievement in its constant hurry is to have turned the awesome into the mundane, even the tragic. Traveling through the sky in winged machines is now often just a trip to be endured, not enjoyed. The marvel of massive quantities of oil created millions of years ago and left in the sand is fast becoming a legacy of toxic waste ponds, denuded landscapes, and poisoned air and water.

The irony is that when we slow down, everything might actually move a bit faster. American author Ivan Illich calculates that the total time North Americans devote to their cars (payments, repairs, traffic jams) means that we travel, on average, just a little faster than our ancient ancestors. It turns out our speed is mostly an illusion. Unfortunately, the climate danger is real.

By taking mass transit, or cycling and walking for shorter trips, for instance, we free up roadways from traffic congestion that costs our economy billions of dollars annually in delays.

There are ways to get us in the habit of slowing down.

First, ask yourself if you need to rush. Does the world really depend on me flying from Edmonton to Calgary to save a few hours instead of taking the bus? If you answer yes, get a second opinion.

Prime Minister Harper can lead by example. There is no need for him to jet to Toronto to tell us what can’t be done to comply with Kyoto. He can take the train. We can wait.

Second, encourage governments to use carbon taxes — taxes that depend on the amount of fossil fuels burned for specific activities — and road tolls to motivate people to choose less-polluting options.

Finally, spend a week slowing down to see if what you lose isn’t actually quite small compared to what you gain in the quality of your life, and the life around you.

It is, after all, just about time.

Albert Koehl is a lawyer with Ecojustice (formerly Sierra Legal), a Canadian environmental law organization.


An appeal from the organization “Take Back Your Time” by notimetolose
November 11, 2007, 12:36 am
Filed under: activism | Tags:

This is reposted from an email received from the American organization, Take Back Your Time (

Dear Take Back Your Time Supporter —

This is a letter I hoped I would never have to write. When we started TAKE BACK YOUR TIME five years ago, I believed our idea was so needed, and would receive such a positive response, that we would have little trouble raising funds to keep at least a minimal infrastructure functioning properly and at least a few staff people able to make ends meet while working for the cause.

Well, I was right about our potential popularity–since 2002 thousands of people have joined our group and the number of articles written about us and radio interviews our board members have done far exceeds a thousand, including coverage in all the largest newspapers and other media outlets in the country. More than 200 communities have held Take Back Your Time Day events, many for several years. Altogether, more than 10,000 of you have joined our email list, and more than 3,000 of you regularly open our emails and read our newsletter. Your comments and response to our inquiries have played a major role in our project priorities. Most recently, you have responded with an outpouring of emails supporting our vacation campaign. So I was right about that.

But I was wrong about the money–foundations have not yet supported the important work that we do, despite no lack of effort on our part to reach them. And while we’ve gotten $30,000 from two corporations–Beringer and Panera–it just hasn’t been enough. So we have relied on you, our members, to keep us afloat and to tell us what you wanted us to do. Over the years, you have provided just enough to keep us going, but in spite of that we are facing the most severe financial crisis in our five year history.

The result is that if we do not find a way to raise some support soon, we will no longer have phone service at the end of the month, and our hard-working Executive Director, Lisa Stuebing, will need to look for more gainful employment, as our previous director, Gretchen did before her. Lisa has already taken on temporary work. Remember, we are a very lean organization, with only one modestly-paid, part-time staff person, with an office in her home. Yet look at what we’ve done with that.

In order to function sustainably, if not at peak performance, we need to raise about $2700 a month. This includes staff time and the actual cost of our physical operations– office supplies, webmaster, emailing etc., which Lisa tells me is $465 a month. Our board is generously pledging to cover the non-staff minimum costs, but we cannot continue to function if we lose our Executive Director.

We are facing a real crisis and we will not survive much longer without your contributions. We know that times are tight and the many of you cannot give much but we hope you will be as generous as you can. As you begin to make your fall contributions to the organizations you believe in, please consider Take Back Your Time. If every one of you that opens this email contributes just $25, we will be sustainable for the next year. If you can give more, please do. Consider making a pledge. Please don’t let this organization die.

I think you know what we’ve accomplished. We are the go-to organization for all reporters looking at issues of time poverty and work-life balance. We have helped with campaigns for paid family leave and other needed reforms. Our materials and ideas are used in college classrooms throughout the country.

Our new vacation campaign is attracting wide interest and we will be letting you know about some of the exciting new things that are happening with the campaign in the very near future. Joe Robinson and I addressed the Indianapolis convention of the National Parks and Recreation Association last month and have been speaking to many groups about the need for vacation protection in the United States and we want to involve more of you in this activity. Please let us know if you can help!

The media is wild about this and Joe has been meeting with Congressional staff people and finding strong interest in our idea. A political consultant for a sitting governor called me recently and said his client’s chief of staff and policy director were eager to meet with us to talk about this. We are getting some real interest from adventure travel firms which I hope will lead to new partnerships like those with Beringer and Panera, in the near future.

We don’t want to stop there, either. With sufficient financial resources, we can do many other things–improve our newsletter and send it out more frequently; sponsor conferences and teach-ins; encourage polling, research and more effective framing of our message; take on other issues in our Time to Care campaign; build greater connections to health, family, environment, social justice, civic and other organizations.

I am honestly convinced that if we can survive through the coming winter, this organization is on the verge of a major change in status. It would be a shame for this organization to die just as it seems about to make a major impact on our country. But I will not sugarcoat the truth–if we do not receive your support, Take Back Your Time will not continue to function as an organization.

Please consider making a contribution to Take Back Your Time today. It’s easy to do and you can do it online. Or, you can send your check (made out to CRESP/TAKE BACK YOUR TIME) to:

Take Back Your Time
PO Box 19862
Seattle, WA 98109

Please help now. Thanks so much for all you do.

Yours for bread and roses,
John de Graaf

Roman Signer, Office Chair (Bürostuhl), 2006 (Video still) by notimetolose
November 11, 2007, 12:22 am
Filed under: contemporary art, exhibition, photos | Tags: , , ,

This image has nothing to do with our exhibition, No Time to Lose, but the image of an office chair whizzing around at rocket-speed is strangely metaphoric: it’s fast, but to the point of becoming ineffective for any *real* purpose… not unlike persistent, stress-inducing overwork 😉

This is a still from a video by Roman Signer and it is being used as the signature image for his exhibition on now at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburg, Scotland ( I discovered it via an e-flux announcement.

While I’m posting, why don’t I give you an update on what’s going on with us?

We’re doing well! We’re just about finished discussing the budget and we’re starting to fund raise and turn our attention to working out details such as travel and accommodations, and the sites for artists interventions.

The exhibition opens on June 14, 2008 with a reception on June 13. Some days it seems like a far way off, but when juggled between other responsibilities, it becomes apparent just how soon it will launch. I’m getting excited, and so are many of the artists.

More information will be posted here as soon as it becomes available, so please feel free to stop by anytime!

Dušan Jovanović on workaholism and capitalism by notimetolose
July 23, 2007, 9:41 am
Filed under: news articles | Tags: , , , ,

Since this article is not available in English, I thought I’d post the truncated translation here instead of in the NTTL account.

I have a few comments that I’d like to share, but instead of editorializing my point of view, I thought I’d leave it open for wider discussion. So please do feel free to jump in and let all the visitors to this blog know what you’re thinking in response to this mini-article =-)

Reposted from: euro|topics: newsletter 23/07/2007

Slovenia – Dnevnik
Dušan Jovanović on workaholism and capitalism
Workaholism is the driving power behind modern capitalism in Europe, writes Dušan Jovanović. The 35-hour-week that the French fought so hard for back in 2000 has no future, he concludes. “Today work, hobbies and leisure are melting into a combination of duty, suffering and pleasure. … A person who works a 35-hour-week isn’t suited to independent work or intellectually demanding professions because being a lawyer, manager, stockbroker, academic or consultant still requires the willingness to work a 70-hour-week. … Sociologists hold the view that societies in which the traditional division between working time and leisure remains intact will be left behind, because they prevent the formation of a broad class of workaholics to boost the economy. The latest insight is that capitalism needs workaholism. … Without it we would continue to be a socialist economy with state-owned property and people who hate their jobs and even go so far as to sabotage them.” (23/07/2007)

Things are starting to roll! by notimetolose
July 13, 2007, 4:12 pm
Filed under: artists, contemporary art, curating, exhibition, updates

Hi everyone!

Just a little update…

The exhibition dates for No Time to Lose are set and will soon be announced, and Monika and I are in the process of discussing details related to the budget. The artists’ projects are also well underway.

I don’t want to reveal too much at the moment, but as a sample, I’d like to welcome you to visit six websites dedicated to work featured in the show:

More coming soon =-)