Such lives are often called subsistence, which brings to mind the barest, hardscrabble survival. But there is another way to look at them. At Patagonia we choose to call them “economies of abundance.” In an economy of abundance, there is enough. Not too much. Not too little. Enough. Most important, there is enough time for the things that matter: relationships, delicious food, art, games and rest.
We [Americans, modern society, etc.] don't have enough money, and we also don’t have enough time. We don’t have enough energy, solitude or peace. We are the world’s richest country, yet our quality of life ranks 14th in the world. As Eric Hoffer, a mid-20th century philosopher, put it, “You can never get enough of what you don’t really need to make you happy."
Talk about values alignment. I think I'm in love with Yvon Chouinard. I would LOVE to work for them. But there are two big (and relatively important) obstacles: 1) they aren't hiring for any positions that I am qualified/interested in and 2) they are waaaaaaaaaay out on the west coast. Problem.
Another interesting job that I found was working for Harpoon Brewery, right here in Boston. (Fixing obstacle number 2). They're hiring for a position in July (damn!) that sounds pretty awesome - Harpoon Helps Coordinator.
There are definite perks to a job like this: beer, getting OUT of an office, and still feeling like I'm contributing something valuable.