Authors: Maritza Martinez
Hundreds of people from across the South gathered in Atlanta late last month at the Good Jobs, Green Jobs South Conference to discuss current and future efforts to build a green economy. Participants ranged from union members to municipal workers to environmental activists and everyone in between. The conference was put together by the Blue Green Alliance, a national strategic partnership between labor unions and environmental organizations dedicated to expanding the number and quality of jobs in the green economy.
Green For All hosted a discussion called “Young People and The Green Economy” featuring Green for All Fellow Marcus Penny from Let’s Retrofit A Million as well as College Ambassadors Jainaba Fye from Spelman College and Danielle Bailey from Savannah State University. The three shared their experiences as young people in the movement and talked about the work they do in their campuses and communities. Conference goers were eager to discuss the impact of the economic crisis on this generation of young people and how adult allies can support youth to make change in their communities. Many young people, educators, youth serving organizations and employers shared the lessons they’ve learned in their work.
In addition to the Green for All workshop, more than thirty other breakout sessions were held over the two-day conference. They featured inspiring talks from Congressman John Lewis, Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen and Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams.
Congressman Lewis urged us to remember that though “our foremothers & forefathers may have come here on different ships, we are all in the same boat now.”
The theme of solidarity was echoed by many of the other speakers, including CWA President Larry Cohen, who said, “Whether we are immigrants or not, we need to act as if we are. Whether we are people of color or not, we need to act as if we are. Whether we are union activists or not, we need to act as if we are.”
Representative Abrams closed the first day of the conference with a plan for accountability. She urged the audience to do three things: First, speak up, by telling legislators what you want to happen with your tax money. Second, show up to make sure they follow through, and third, stand up to demand results—if you don’t get them, vote your representative out of office.
Good Jobs Green Jobs will be hosting three more conferences in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Detroit over the next several months. Join the conversation about building a green economy near you by visiting: http://www.greenjobsconference.org/.