Green Jobs: How do we build this movement?

June 13, 2008

ACE is currently working with organizations in the Boston area like Community Labor United (CLU) on a campaign for local green jobs. We believe that the green revolution has major potential for training people in lower income communities and communities of color for jobs that will provide life-long skills and also make our air, water and land cleaner.

Interested in learning more? Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project (REEP) youth organizers will be presenting a green jobs workshop on July 2 for youth and adults as part of the Radical Organizing Conference's Summer Institute. ACE staff Marina Spitkovskaya will be speaking in Springfield on June 25 about building a movement that serves local communities, guarantees workers’ rights to organize and promotes community-owned sustainable projects.

Recently, in conjunction with Earth Day and the 35th anniversary of their Urban and Environmental Planning and Policy Program, Tufts University hosted Van Jones, champion of the green jobs movement and founder and president of Green For All, an organization that works to build an inclusive, green economy "strong enough to lift millions of people out of poverty."

REEP youth have worked with Jones, meeting him at our office in Roxbury as well as national events to discuss concepts like eco-apartheid, eco-privilege and the greening of the economy. REEP is sharing these ideas with other youth organizations and Boston-area schools to help build momentum for this campaign.

Jones’ work links ecological problems brought on by climate change to social justice and ideals of equality voiced during the civil rights movement. He believes that those pushed down by pollution during the industrial revolution can be lifted up by the green jobs workforce. If stopping global warming means retrofitting diesel engines, installing solar panels, and constructing green buildings, it’s going to take "thousands of contracts and millions of jobs."

As Jones put it, "work that most needs to get done can connect people most in need of jobs…[Let’s have] green collar jobs, not jails, for young people."