Funded! This project was successfully funded on October 1, 2011.


A book-length oral history and film that will provide the names, faces, and the pulse of the Great American Recession.

In 1972, Studs Terkel published WORKING, a book that captures the oral history of what people do all day and how they feel about what they do.

In dialogue with Terkel’s book, DW Gibson has organized NOT WORKING, a project that will produce a book-length oral history (forthcoming from OR Books in 2012). The book will be accompanied by a film, which Gibson will produce with MJ Sieber. 

Familiarity with Terkel’s WORKING will absolutely increase interest in this project, but it is by no means a prerequisite. NOT WORKING communicates on its own. It will provide the names and faces, the pulse of the Great American Recession. 

For the summer of 2011, Gibson and Sieber are traveling across the US, beginning in Orange County, California, ending in New York City. Gibson will interview individuals who have lost their jobs because of the economic downturn over the last three years. (Interviews to date can be viewed here.)

Interviews will be centered on the exact moment when the job was lost, the conditions that led to that moment, and the consequences that followed. The moment-to-moment details rupture with emotion, tension, humor, and absolute horror. These close-ups are the essence of this project. 

These are workers who have lost their jobs because of economic considerations.  They have been let go by forces beyond their will, ability, and sense of commitment.  They come from all levels of responsibility and income: hourly wage earners, executives, and every tax bracket in between.

Support for NOT WORKING will be used to fund the additional travel necessary to complete the interviews for the book, particularly to the southern region of the country. The funds will also be used to complete the massive amount of transcriptions that will be needed to generate much of the text for the book. As this is an oral history, it is vital that we are able to represent each interviewee's words precisely as they were spoken. The book can't be completed without these components, so we appreciate your vital support -- and we want to make sure that in raising funds, we also keep in mind those who have been most affected by the current economic situation.


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  • Pledge $1 or more
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    4 backers Limited (11 left of 15)

    STAY UPDATED: You'll receive access to all the project updates we post from the road, including videos and podcasts from the ongoing project.

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    8 backers

    ORAL E-HISTORY: You'll receive the ebook version of Not Working, which will bring together interviews with those who have lost their jobs alongside Gibson's commentary on their situations and his trip. The ebook is compatible with every e-reader.

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    25 backers

    THE BOOK: You'll receive the paperback of Not Working, which will bring together interviews with those who have lost their jobs alongside Gibson's commentary on their situations and his trip.

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    13 backers

    SNEAK PEEK: You'll receive the paperback version of Not Working before its official release date, giving you a chance to get to know the many subjects of the project -- and tell all your friends to look out for it once it becomes available to the general public.

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    6 backers

    OR BOOKS: The Not Working book version is being published by revolutionary company OR Books, and with this pledge amount, you'll receive a complimentary OR title of your choice in addition to the Not Working paperback. OR Books titles include works by Douglas Rushkoff, Norman Finkelstein, Eileen Myles, Chris Lehmann, Bill McKibben, and more.

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    MEET THE TEAM: In addition to receiving the Not Working book, you'll receive an exclusive sneak peek at the Not Working film. Once the film is completed, you'll get a private link to watch it before its official release.

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    PREMIERE: For this pledge amount, you'll be invited to the premiere of the Not Working film and the launch party for the book either in NYC or California. You can choose to attend the premiere in NYC or California, where the movie will be screened for a small audience, or attend one of a few release parties for the book throughout the country.

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    3 backers

    GIVE: For this amount, you'll get all of the incentive rewards, PLUS the chance to give half of your pledge to one of several organizations that help those out of work with issues related to employment, housing and transportation.

Funding period

- (60 days)