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Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying. — Studs Terkel, American journalist

This workshop demonstrates fundamental connections between the way we think about money and the way we acquire it. For many, the relationship with money is connected to the dynamics of the work done to earn it. Money has real human meaning, in part, because it often comes from hard effort and requires one to commit a significant part of one's life. This workshop explores the "earning" dimension of the larger cycle of acquiring, interpreting, and using money in spiritually rich and socially connected ways.

Participants share stories of what motivated them to do particular work at particular times. When and how has money-earning been connected to spiritual and ethical values? What has been the balance between vocational purpose and economic need? Participants bring their own money-earning stories to wrestle with the ways in which fairness and justice relate to wage-earning activities.

As you prepare to lead this workshop, consider how your experience of vocation and wage earning may differ from the experiences of participants and prepare to make space for those differences. In addition, review the Accessibility guidelines in the program Introduction under Integrating All Participants.


This workshop will:

  • Provoke reflection on individuals' motivation for work and the role of money in participant's work lives
  • Create space to share personal earning stories and the ways they may have influenced participants' understandings of wealth
  • Encourage awareness and consideration of different earning experiences in society and examine how these differences may sometimes reflect and sometimes challenge dominant culture values of fairness and justice.

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  • Explore their assumptions, values, and understandings with regard to what motivates them to work
  • Share personal stories of working experiences and reflect together on their meaning and effect
  • Articulate their values related to for fairness in compensation for work and identify ways their values may conflict with values others may hold
  • Consider how having an adequate amount of money to provide for basic needs changes one's motivation, values, and experience of earning money.

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