Picking up the Thread to the Invisible Web of Women’s Work That Weaves the Fabric of Community

Throughout the stories of human community, three women hold their positions, working together to weave destiny. From the Greek Fates to the 3 witches in Macbeth to the three women bringing forward this conversation about women’s work, our shared destiny is woven from the threads of Community, Culture and Commerce to create the fabric of community that has the strength and flexibility needed for true resilience.

It is time to make public the conversations that women have privately about the work of weaving the community ecosystem.

Community: Maggie Duval — Mother, Community Builder and Senior Developer, Polycot Associates — Austin Texas

Culture: Ruth Glendinning — Principal of Thriving Community Solutions, creator of S.L.O.W. Tech™, Cultural Strategy — Austin Texas

Commerce: Chris Cain — Chief Experience Officer of Alternatives Federal Credit Union — Ithaca NY

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about investing in ecosystems, but none address the vital, yet often undervalued women’s work tending the roots. As any gardener will tell you, a healthy sustainable garden starts with the soil. If we want an inclusive healthy sustainable economic future for all, it’s time support those who get their hands into the soil and tend to our community roots.

The story being shared today is rooted in the story of the power of community Mahatma Gandhi described as a whole in the concept of village economics and as individual empowerment to “spin his own cotton and weave his own cloth.”

It is the roles of spinning and weaving that is the work that’s done by women in our society. It is the work that is both invisible and essential to our quality of life. It’s been categorized as soft skills or emotional labor, and, as such, is often uncompensated.

The missing piece for a complex thriving regenerative future in the current funding model is the ability to provide access to capital to businesses that root deeply, the businesses that support the community at the ground level. Remember, the ‘last mile’, which is the place that many big ideas stop, is the ‘first mile’ when you’re looking up from the ground. This is where women do their work.

What we’re proposing is that the invisible women’s work of weaving community is vital and needs to be formed into a new ‘container’ of identity to make it on to the funding radar. The landscape of economic opportunity is changing rapidly as it is shaped by disruptive technology, brought forward by the changing story framed by the millennial workforce and expressed in the growing wealth gap.

It is imperative to activate more community stakeholders to engage in growing an economically sustainable community, which requires utilizing technology to work at the grassroots level to partner with community to co-create solutions. One of the biggest gaps is lack of recognition of the fiscal power of one the big stakeholders: Women’s Work.

The work that’s done by women in our society is undervalued, though essential to our quality of life.

It’s a simple plan: meet women where they are, give them better tools and the support structures needed to root & grow thriving economies locally. In order to provide a new model of community wealth, we must first recognize that there are multiple forms of capital. Some are tangible, like financial or material resources. Others are less tangible, such as social, community, trust and relationships. This is far from an exhaustive list. Ultimately, any resource that can be activated to create value for the community is considered capital. Technology, whether in the form of language or high performance platforms, is the key to bringing forward the most powerful combination of capital to support & serve the greatest good for all, no exceptions. Examples of capitals noted below:

Women’s work is the ‘simple’ entry point to rooting & growing these complex economies. The work is essential to keeping the fabric of community strong and preparing the next generation to root and grow.

A few points for our conversation’s timeline…

Historically…women’s work believed to be exclusively the domain of women and associates particular stereotypical tasks that history has associated with the female gender. It is particularly used with regard to work that a mother or wife will perform within a family and household.

Professionally… ‘caring’ work — such as teaching, nursing, and domestic work — were considered to be women’s work as well, and correspondingly paid less than their more prestigious cousins.

Actually… women’s work is not associated with economic value and men’s value is not associated with care. Neither is true, yet, as Levs said, “We’ve baked in (to our workplace policies): woman-baby-home; man-work.” Our health, our happiness — our economy — depend on us changing this culture.

We propose a new conversation focused on identifying, valuing and investing in “women’s work” supported by the FundHer Network. This platform will be the aggregator for the work that has been evolving and developing around the new pattern economy locally, nationally and globally.

Three Key Messages

Acknowledge that Women’s Work should be recognized and funded: “If you increase the female labor force participation — in other words, the number of women joining the workforce, getting a job, producing value, offering services — you automatically increase the size of the economy.” ~ Christine Lagarde, Director International Monetary Fund

Follow the path to Community Wealth by growing from the roots up, generatively, not extractively, with a Full Spectrum Capital perspective

Support a modern interpretation of Gandhi’s message using his spinning wheel imagery to capture the relationship of community and business at the ground level…where women’s work is rooted.

This is not the end, it’s a new beginning.

This conversation is a living, breathing document picking up the thread that Gandhi dropped and using it to weave a new future which produces well-being by, with and for all.

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Ruth Glendinning

Ruth Glendinning

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Poet // Future Story Lab // Lexicon of Future // Anti-Fragile Playbook // Peace Economics // FundHer Network // Originator S.L.O.W. Tech // #womenswork