Book Review: Share or Die

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Copyright 2011 by
Peter G. Raeth

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Share or Die has the goal of talking about sharing as a means of survival in today's economy. The book presents stories collected from young post-college adults who talk about their experiences. Overall, the books is an interesting survey of liberal arts graduates and their post-graduation efforts to establish themselves. The stories are most revealing. There are 26 stories. These come from a broad spectrum of situations involving many types of people.

The saddest group of people is the totally clueless. They graduate wanting to join the professional world as it stands today but have absolutely no idea how to do that, nor even if their skills prepare them for that world. Here is a group that our educational pipeline has utterly failed. It is true that education is not at all the same as training. Education lays the foundation. Training builds the specifics. However, to have spent four costly years at a university without any preparation for transition tells me that something critical is missing.

The opposite group is the totally rebellious. They reject the world as it stands to fight "the establishment". The stories here call to mind teenagers who seek their individuality and independence by rejecting all authority. They have yet to reach a level of maturity that allows them to succeed as professionals while still choosing their unique path based on their personal goals.

Those two groups are all too well described by the very discouraging flow-charts that act as prelude and postscript to the book.

Thankfully, there is another group that has seen the problem and taken effective action. These people still follow their own way but have developed a level of maturity that enables their accomplishment, and their good use of the gifts they are blessed with. One will be moved and well-informed by these stories.

• The best story (Youth in Service) is about volunteering in an organization that can provide some structure and purposeful work. The story's author volunteered for a religious order that serves the poor and homeless. Other such organizations are the Peace Corps and Vista. A year or two in an organization like that will help you get on the right track and earn you a good recommendation. Some organizations even provide post-service benefits. This is far better than starting off by wandering from one place to another and one month-long task to another.

• You will see an excellent example of international networking in Emergent by Design. Here is a person who leveraged like-minded "out of the box" creative people to produce something that "the establishment" really needed. Pay attention to this story since it shows how to be yourself and still fit into the professional world.

• Rather than look for a job, How to Start a Worker Co-Op shows how to start a business that is owned by its employees. Clear advice is given, along with references to additional reading. As the story shows, this can be a very good alternative that still provides a service or product that is in demand.

• How to Build a Housing Co-Op gets into very useful specifics and extra readings as it explains how individuals can join together to improve housing for the group while maintaining harmony and financial stability. I have seen this work well for those who could not have otherwise afforded a decent place to live in a safe neighborhood.

Along the way you will find other inspiring stories from people who made something meaningful happen. They tell about what they did and how they got through the down times. These stories offer a lot to think about and many ways to look at difficult situations. You will benefit from the stories offered in this book, even if some of them are an example of what not to do.

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