Last week in Chicago (video)

Authors: greenforallblogger Last week, Van Jones (President and Founder) and Jeremy Hays (Field Director) traveled to Chicago to meet with the people and organizations that are spearheading a flurry of activity to build the green economy from the ground up. Here are some highlights from the trip... Wednesday, June 25th First stop: a luncheon hosted by the Delta Institute, where Van delivered the keynote address. The Delta Institute is working to transform the Great Lakes Region into a vital center of the emerging green economy. They are leading a range of innovative work in Chicago, including working to retrofit what is now the world's largest LEED-certified green building. The Institute provides a variety of services (technical assistance, financing, carbon trading) and projects (lead abatement, building materials reuse, and energy retrofits, to name a few). Listen to Van's keynote speech, introduced by Sadhu Johnston, the Chief Environmental Officer of Chicago (streaming):

http://gfa.fchq.ca/musicplayer.swf?&song_url=http://www.delta-institute.org/partnersinchange/vanjones2.mp3

A huge thanks to Sadhu and our Delta Institute hosts: Co-Directors Donna Ducharme and Timothy Brown, as well as Associate Kindy Kruller, Chair of the Chicagoland Green Collar Jobs Intiative. That evening Van and Jeremy headed over to the south side of Chicago to the DuSable Museum of African American History, where the Chicagoland Green Collar Jobs Initiative and Blacks in Green co-hosted a community Solutions Salon. It was a packed house, filled with leaders of local organizations, entrepreneurs, and folks from the community, in attendance to hear about the growing green opportunities in Chicago. The panel discussion featured LaDonna Redmond (Institute for Community Resource Development), Victoria Cooper (Wilbur Wright College), Brenda Palms Barber (North Lawndale Employment Network), Naomi Davis (Blacks in Green). These powerful women are building the green economy now: employing the formerly incarcerated, running green-collar training programs, bringing food justice to the south side of Chicago. The event was peppered with hip-hopera and spoken word, speeches from Sadhu Johnston, Van Jones, and a representative from the Office of Congressman Bobby Rush. People had to be turned away when the venue filled to capacity. Despite the sweltering heat, the crowd stayed for almost an hour after the event, riding the energy of the evening and eagerly connecting with each other and with Green For All. Thursday, June 26th First stop of the day: Greencorps Chicago. The city program provides green-collar job training. Over the course of 9 months, program participants - primarily ex-offenders and others with barriers to employment - receive training in one of four separate tracks: landscaping and urban gardening; computer refurbishing and recycling; household hazardous waste handling; and home weatherization. While receiving training, participants give back by building community gardens or refurbishing computers for underprivileged residents. The 50 or so participants gain life skills, vocational training, and certification in things like lead abatement and asbestos removal. Participants of the program met with Van and Jeremy, and shared the impact the program has had on them personally. Many spoke of increased self esteem and the experience of bringing jobs, knowledge, and information back to their communities. Greencorps members also gave a tour of the building. The program is housed in the Chicago Center for Green Technology. Formerly an abandoned building surrounded by illegally dumped debris, the Center is now a nationally recognized green building with a platinum LEED rating. Built by the city of Chicago, the building features the latest in sustainable construction, from green and solar roofs to bioswales. Later that evening, Van appeared on Chicago Tonight. The interview proved to be a great overview of green-collar jobs and the work of Green For All. Please watch it and share it with folks who are interested to learn more about the work we do:

Chicago is proving to be a model of how a city can go green and go equitable at the same time, through grassroots innovation and government investment. Folks are ready to get to work, are connecting through the Chicagoland Green Collar Jobs Initiative, and finding ways to move forward together.

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