Dave Smith



Dave Smith, born in California and raised in Miami, Florida, is the son of a preacher man and has resided in North California since 1963. He is Publisher/Curator of Ukiah Community Blog, The Contrary Farmer blog, and Mendocino Talking… and author of To Be Of Use – The Seven Seeds of Meaningful Work; was cofounder of Smith & Hawken whose original mission was providing sturdy hand tools to organic and biodynamic farmers; and was the proprietor of Mulligan Books in downtown Ukiah until retirement.

After dropping out of Seminary, where he was lead trumpet of its travelling Trumpet Trio, and working as a computer systems analyst, he became involved in the Friends Meeting (Quakers) and the Institute for the Study of Nonviolence (Joan Baez) in Palo Alto which led to his becoming an executive assistant to César Chávez (see Cesar Chavez — When Your Guru Goes Gaga). He then cofounded Briarpatch Natural Foods Co-op and a Briarpatch Network branch in Menlo Park, California.

Dave has held executive positions in Real Goods, SelfCare Catalog, Seeds of Change, Diamond Organics, and Organic Bouquet. He has served on the boards of directors of Ecology Action, Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op, and Mendocino Environmental Center in Mendocino County, California; and is cofounder of Mendocino Organic Network, an alliance of farmers and citizens promoting local, organic, and sustainable farming through its Mendocino Renegade organic certification program.

Dave lives in Mendocino County, is a card-carrying freethinker (atheist) and member of the International Brotherhood and Sisterhood of Fundamentalist Christianism Survivors (Assemblies of God branch), and writes a sporadic column, Mendocino Talking  MendocinoTalking.org, for the Anderson Valley Advertiser. 

Dave’s posts are here.






Finding Meaningful Work (Video 28mins)

Published by New World Library

To be of use
by Marge Piercy

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who stand in the line and haul in their places,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

The Seven Seeds of Meaningful Work
[Reimagining the Seven Virtues]
From To Be Of Use by Dave Smith

Meaningful work comes alive
with faith in others as well as ourselves.
And that requires hope…

Meaningful work comes alive
when hope engenders positive change.
And that requires justice…

Meaningful work comes alive
when justice acts from care and compassion.
And that requires temperance…

Meaningful work comes alive
when temperance moderates thoughtless greed.
And that requires prudence…

Meaningful work comes alive
with the prudence of a creative democracy.
And that requires courage…

Meaningful work comes alive
when purposeful courage fits community needs.
And that requires love…

Meaningful work comes alive
with love of others as well as ourselves.
And that requires you and me.


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