Authors: yvonne Yvonne Yeh is an Online Communications Intern with Green for All. Nashville, Tennessee, is moving forward with a proposal for a Green Jobs Corps, thanks to the help of Green For All! The Corps, modeled after the pioneering Green Jobs Corps in Oakland, would be the first in the Southeast.
The Green-Collar Jobs Task Force of Nashville-Davidson Counties first brought local media attention to their Green Jobs Corps proposal in June, when it publicly released a Green for All report. Green Prosperity: How Clean-Energy Policies Can Fight Poverty and Raise Living Standards in the United States, by Green For All, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts (PERI) contains local data from Nashville that finds investments in clean energy would create three times as many jobs as investments in the fossil fuel economy. Publicity from the report release, the strong model set up by the Oakland Green Jobs Corps, and the possibility of funding through Recovery Act grants all made this proposal particularly appealing to Nashville. It certainly helps that the Mayor’s goal is to make Nashville the greenest city in the Southeast. With unemployment rates are at 8.6% in Davidson County, a 20-year high, the council was willing to listen.An overwhelming 34 councilmembers co-sponsored the proposal and passed the resolution resoundingly in July. “Our lead councilman was blown away completely,” said Nell Levin of the Tennessee Alliance Progress, one of the main movers behind the resolution. “We didn’t expect this much support." Levin says that funding remains a challenge, but the main hope will be procuring $2 million through a Pathways out of Poverty Grant, which Green For All helped get included in President Obama’s Recovery Act. This grant enables people who have been historically barred from quality jobs, including those with criminal records and those without diplomas, to access skills training and job placement on green projects. "Whether it is through transportation, construction, highways, any of those things, we are willing to work with you and hire you," said councilwoman Erica Gilmore. Even as community groups and the Department of Labor band together, employers have been reluctant to join. However Levin remains hopeful. “This is the new way. This is the most exciting opportunity for creating pathways out of poverty that I can see.”