As tour comes to an end, momentum is just beginning to build

Authors: Julia Rhee Crossposted fromGlobalGrind. In the past five weeks, I’ve been to 20 cities across America. At every stop along the way, I asked the people I met the same four questions: Do you know someone who’s out of work right now? Do you believe that people have the right to clean air, water, and food? Do you believe in sustaining a world that will be around for our children, grandchildren, and their children? And finally, have you heard about green jobs? The people I informally surveyed were not your typical environmental or social justice activists. They were not economists or politicians. In fact, the only thing they all had in common was that they are fans of the multi-platinum pop group, The Black Eyed Peas. See, I’ve been on tour with The Black Eyed Peas as an ambassador from Green For All, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty. For a self-identified racial-justice-activist-gone-green, I have to admit that this was partially an interesting social experiment for me. How much traction could environmental and social justice issues get with die-hard music fans? The fact is, though only about 30% of people I talked to had heard of “green jobs”, most everyone had friends or family who were unemployed or underemployed, and most everyone supported access for clean air, water, and food. While the values of the Americans I met support jobs for our communities and preserving a healthy environment, there is still work to be done in engaging people in the movement to create green jobs and a clean-energy economy. In particular, some were skeptical that helping the planet can actually turn a profit, and many did not see the full potential a clean-energy economy could offer to low-income communities and communities of color. So we’ve got our work cut out for us. We’ve got to show how creating jobs in green industries like energy-efficiency construction, urban agriculture, and renewable energy can lift people out of poverty and improve our planetary and community health. Fortunately, as I discovered on tour with The Black Eyed Peas, music is playing a critical role in engaging and educating more and more people. Music hits people where they are at. It makes us feel good. It makes us think. In short, music moves people. And now, more and more artists are using their music to move people to action. The Black Eyed Peas, Drake, U2, Dave Matthews Band, John Legend, Jack Johnson, and Sheryl Crow are just a few who have shown commitment to changing the face of environmentalism. They specialize in pushing the limits of music and eco-creativity. Partnering with these artists gives advocates for social causes a kind of access that we often dream about—the ability to influence hard-to-reach audiences that may not normally think about going green or changing the world. On the Peas tour, we set the example at concerts with on-site recycling, petitions to pass federal and local bills that can create green jobs, water stations to discourage the use of plastic bottles, and more. Most importantly, on tour I had the chance to meet people, to hear about their families and their values, and to talk with them about solutions. And because more and more unlikely voices, like The Black Eyed Peas and Drake, are speaking up for the environment and underserved communities, more people are stopping to listen. My adventures on tour now come to an end, but Green For All is just getting started reaching out to new audiences with the help of committed musical artists. Julian Mocine-McQueen, my incredible colleague at Green For All, has joined Drake on tour this spring. He’ll be promoting awareness, education, and action for a green economy on college campuses as part of the Green The Block campaign a joint initiative between Green For All and the Hip Hop Caucus. Let’s keep the momentum going. Sign the “Earth Day on Every Block Pledge” to help green your neighborhood and enter to win 2 free tickets to see Drake in concert. The Black Eyed Peas, Drake, and other talents can bring awareness to audiences across the world. But improving our communities, doing right by our planet, creating jobs for our families and friends – thesechanges require that we all get involved and do our part. Let’s get it started.

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