Finding an 'Upside To The Downturn'

Negativity, particularly about the economy, flows from the news media these days in a near constant stream. So it was refreshing to find a few drops of good news on NBC and in Marie Claire magazine recently.

NBC “Nightly News” examined the booming business of “trash-outs” in California, a state hit hard by foreclosures. Mike Taibbi’s Feb. 4 report was part of NBC’s “search for those who are making good money in this bad economy.”

What Taibbi found is that the crisis birthed “a new, robust industry all centered around cleaning out all those [empty, foreclosed] houses.”

“Trash-out companies like Linda Hall’s are springing up across the country, from California to Newark, N.J.” Hall said her company is working seven days a week to keep up. The NBC report wasn’t insensitive – it acknowledged the tragedy of so many foreclosures, but found the often unreported upside.

Women’s magazine Marie Claire found a different upside to the economic situation, which author Amy Reiter called “recession euphoria” in her article “An Upside To the Downturn.”

“A few weeks ago, I got laid off. After my bosses delivered the blow – plunging economy, budget cuts, blah, blah, blah – I walked up to the Miró exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, which I’d never have had the time to see if I were still employed. Taking in the paintings, I felt weirdly … euphoric. Working so hard during the flush times had left my soul parched, and now light and color were quenching it like a tub of La Mer …”

Reiter claimed that despite all the economic worry “something else is slyly creeping in: relief. A sense that the pressure gauge has been released.” She wrote that people are discovering the “pleasures of thrift,” reprioritizing, and spending time with loved ones.

“There are those of us who simply feel like we’ve been sprung from the Big House,” Reiter said.

A sidebar also called attention to some encouraging stats: had its highest traffic ever in Nov. 2008, JoAnn Fabrics sales were up 3.5 percent over 2007, Ball canning products were up 30 percent over 2007, and the YMCA saw its largest membership in history.