Arts/Culture
12:05 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

Artpod: Work, reimagined

Today's Artpod is all about work...or rather, re-imagining what work can be.

Many people view Michigan as ground zero when it comes to job loss and unemployment. Yet despite the tough economy, some people are quitting their jobs in an effort to pursue their creative passions, which are often unpaid.

Meet Danielle Smith. She owns her own eco-friendly toy company called Alphabet Emporium. She started the business two years ago. Before that, she was a cook in the Coast Guard, where she met her husband, John. After they left the military, they rented a condo in Tecumseh, Mich., and moved there with their son. They made about $12,000 a year -- with John working nights at Wal-Mart, and Danielle working days at McDonalds.

She says they were both pretty miserable.

Here's an excerpt from the podcast:

And then one day her husband asked her this one simple question.

"Why don't you just do what makes you happy?"

Smith says they sat down, crunched some numbers, and figured out they could make it work. So she quit.

"I will never ever ever do this to myself again. I will never take a job just because," explains Smith. "And I know in these times there's probably a lot of people that are like, 'I'll take whatever job because I don't have a job.' I completely understand that, but if I can do it, then I think anyone can.

"It's a struggle," she says, "but doing what makes you happy should be a lot more important than doing what just gets you by."

In this episode, we also meet filmmaker Andrea Maio. She's filming a web tv series called "Back to Your Senses." The show would follow folks like Danielle Smith; folks who are trying to make a living doing what they love to do. She's looking for examples that "aren't afforded by privilege." She admits finding those folks isn't easy.

Music in today's podcast is "The Lark" by Timothy Monger, from his new album The New Britton Sound.

Have a story idea, question, or comment? Email me at artpodradio@umich.edu