shines a light on changing times

World War II obliterated the economies of Japan and Germany, forcing the countries to rebuild and modernize. Within decades they became global powerhouses.

You can find evidence that we're on a similar course of much-needed rebuilding on the new recession-watch site,, founded by three, fabulous, young women living the media life in New York -- but without the media jobs or it bag. (Sex and the City officially belongs in a time capsule).

Full disclosure first: two of the sites three founders, Laura Rich and Sara Clemence, are former editors/bosses of mine. We of course no longer work together because we got laid-off, as the story goes. Since I no longer work for these women who beat me into the journalist I am today like they were dusting an old Victorian rug, I will be straightforward with how I feel about their new "day job": I am thrilled there's a smart team of women with flashlights on in a pitch black economy. seeks to pinpoint the positive changes taking place alongside all the tumultuous stuff. It's their belief, according to Rich, that we're entering a period of creative solutions, that this is all part of some bigger, necessary evolution towards living more sustainably.

A big idea conveyed through playful features like:

  • Lemonade Makers--"Profiles of people who turn economic lemons into lemonade"
  • Recession Concessions--an ongoing feature on what to cut/what to keep to save money (i.e. cleaning service vs. HBO)
  • Love in the Time of Layoff--a deeply personal column about one woman's adjustment to being the sole breadwinner and its impact on her marrige
  • Retooling: sensible yet seemingly dramatic business solutions for survival
  • Redux--a look at the cultural shifts taking place and how they compare to the social trends of the Great Depression, written by academic and RecessionWatch founder, Lynn Parramore.
  • Recession Lexicon: "Pre-fired" is one word coined by Recessionwire, which means losing your job before you start it. That happened to Ms. Clemence who started her first day as online editor for Domino magazine on the day it folded.

My favorite is Out on the Street: A Day in the Afterlife written by "Joe the Trader," an anonymous laid-off banker. The feature provides a look back on his day searching for work, and meaning:

"10:28 a.m.
Pick up phone.

10:28:20 a.m.
Put down phone. Might as well shower first.

11:06 a.m.
"Thanks for checking in," "Keep me posted." "No clarity on our end."

12:23 p.m.
Toilet seat fixed."

Commenting on how the gym is busy on a weekday afternoon, no doubt full of unemployed people, Joe the Trader observes at 3:18pm, "I guess one positive benefit of the recession is that a lot more Wall Street guys will be able to run an eight minute mile." the Upside of the Downturn is a clean-looking site, launched in January, with an easy going, uncluttered layout with none-of those erratic pop culture stories buzzing about. It's pure. Let's hope as things get closer to this hoped for utopic recovery that it can stay smart and funny, no matter how bleak along the way things get.

Though the editors hope for ad sales and have worked out a way to keep it running even as they take on temporary assignments and projects, RecessionWire is a "pop-up site", like a pop-up store, that's temporarily set-up shop. Once the recession is over, RecessionWire is out of business. That's one closing I'll look forward to.
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