Professor Bergmann successfully began the first New Work program in the late 1980’s in Flint, MI, responding to a crisis caused by an economic downturn and General Motors downsizing its plants in Flint. New Work essentially developed small-scale, local work that created jobs by providing the community with necessary goods and services that had been supplied by businesses outside the community – and which took hard-to-come-by monies out of the area. Business practices were taught, as well as personal development training, and then entrepreneurial training that allowed New Work to widen the variety of products and services offered, and broaden its scope to address needs in other communities.
By 1994, a full New Work learning curriculum had been created, and a WTVS (Channel 56) had developed and broadcast a TV series, and a months-long campaign: “New Work for a New Generation”, with churches, unions, schools, TV/radio stations, and new Hi-Tech firms playing major roles. It was considered an exceptional program because it brought the whole of Detroit together. But, this was at the end of a recession and the start of one of the greatest economic expansions. In this new milieu industry expanded, new technology created jobs, entrepreneurs made money in IT and day-trading; and interest in New Work for economically depressed inner cities faded – even though cities such as Flint still struggled “under the radar”. Thus, in the 90s and early 2000s, Dr. Bergmann focused on evolving the precepts of New Work in the US, knowing it would be needed again in the future, and started New Work projects in Eastern Europe, South Asia, and Africa.
Now the current economic downturn – along with significant technology developments that have made, local, small-scale manufacturing competitive – have combined to again make New Work a most promising and essential approach to resuscitating hard hit urban areas, and areas of extreme poverty – and New Work is entering a period of rapid growth, with massive turnout at the October 2014 New Work New Culture conference in Detroit.
See the Publications page for some news stories about the work in Flint and more recent projects.