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Live blogging... Bringing Home the Green Recovery - Conference Call

Posted by Ada McMahon at Feb 24, 2009 04:08 PM |

I attempted some quick blogging during the conference call just now. It is kinda messy, i know, but here are some key points. Fancy things like a recording of the call and a designed/final user's guide coming soon...

I attempted some quick blogging during the conference call just now.  It is kinda messy, i know, but here are some key points.  Fancy things like a recording of the call and a designed/final user's guide coming soon...

The recovery money is moving really quickly, so we can take advantage of this by getting involved locally.

NEW FORUM to sign up to take action in your community:

NEW DRAFT GUIDE on getting federal funding through the recovery package:

NEW TOOLKIT for organizing locally to secure green recovery funding for your community:

Live blogging from the call (also did twitter updates):

Angela Glover Blackwell, CEO of Policy Link -

Good things about the recovery package:

  • Strengthens safety net for nation's poor
  • Supports low-income working families
  • Stimulates the economy

Lays foundation for a 21st century that includes all and is equitable.

We have to "Bring Home equity, and bring home the green recovery"

Lay equity and green criteria now.

Also need to pay attention to oversight.

Equity - just, fair and green inclusion - is the superior growth model.


Radhika Fox, Policy Link - You have seen a Draft version of the Users Guide.  We will point you to the guide. 

First point in moving to implementation -

Securing recovery money like chasing rabbits - Pots of money are spread across a number of agency and across a number of levels of government.  Departments of transportation, labor, housing, other.  Don't have a good history of collaborating well.

Good that there is so much money - but we are chasing 100 rabbits.

Most of the money will flow through existing formulas and government programs.

Want more deliberate mandates that require that lower-income people get training and jobs through this money.

Even though we wanted the recovery package to go farther, there are some good previous.  Prevailing wage for all highway and transit dollars.  That was extended to school construction and energy efficiency money.

Good stuff to build on.

Time is our enemy.  This is not a moment when slow and steady is going to win the race for our communities.  The recovery act requires that funds be spent quickly.

Infrastructure measures require money is allocated within 120 days.  Others require money is spent in 90 days.

Angela Glover Blackwell - Think hard about building an oversight capacity in your community and state.  There is no reason local Community Based Organizations can't require to know how their city and state is spending the money, and how they are doing on green and equity standards.

Jason Walsh, National Policy Director, Green For All - Recommendations

Strategic pressure points and levers that state and local leaders can pull, in order to determine how the money gets spent.

Tension between speed and equity.  Challenges for our communities - if stuff gets too fast, our fear is the jobs will only go to workers who are prepared for the jobs - which can hurt unprepared communities and workers.


Demand transparency - there will be deal cutting and funding pet projects.  Push for public hearings, citizen oversight boards to make decision making transparent and allow democratic voices can be heard.

Don't silo!  With the recovery package, we face the silo challenge on steroids.

Governors have created offices to fight siloing, but they need to actively solicit expertise and input in order to do anything.

Expand and Develop Partnerships

Not all will be stimulated equally by the Recovery Act. Local leaders really need to expand and develop regional sectoral partnerships.

Weigh in on Federal level

A number of the program funded by the recovery act still requires rules and guidelines to be written-- critical opening for practitioners and advocates. 

Like Grant Program from Department of Labor - $500 million for green jobs training.  They will solicit grant applications soon, and then will shape rules and guidelines.  We will be ready to push language and guidelines that push for "pathways out of poverty".

Weatherization Assistance Program is great - and raises a number of challenges.  Will dramatic increase in funds be used towards equality?





Julian McQueen - Green For All Field Organizer - Question for Jason: What is siloing?

Jason -A particular program and stream of money that is implemented in a way that is totally separate from another program and funding stream.  Programs are pumping out money to create jobs, and programs are pumping out money to train for jobs.  Many training program implemented through Department of Labor, many job training programs through the Department of Energy.  They often don't work closely on state and local level.  We need to resist this siloing, and get them to work together.

Hashim Benford, Miami
- How do local, grassroots orgs find out how much their government will be getting, and the timeline? 

Hannah Banks - How can we find out what programs will be created in our state?

Jason - See big table and grid in the Users guide - it lays out the timeline and programs for states.

Radhika - Governors and Mayors are scrambling to figure out how much money we are going to get.  Appendix to the Guide has state by state allocation for Workforce Investment Act money and Weatherization money.  Transportation - go to Transportation for American web site.  Be in touch with your mayor and allies in the city council.  It will be messy and complicated.

Darryl Sager - What about tribes?  How do we track that?

Jason - a very specific program in the guide.  We don't have more info beyond that, right now.

Bob Lee, Washington DC - How much impact can grassroots orgs have?  How much funds can they expect to capture?

Van - don't overestimate others, or underestimate ourselves.  Folks in mayors offices are sitting down TODAY, trying to figure out what to do.  Overthinking it and having too many meetings ourselves will work to our disadvantage.  Sometimes just going down ourselves and asking questions is good.  We should NOT assume that we cannot have a big impact on how these Obama Billions get spent.

Angela - Assume that we can have a big impact,

This has to move fast - opportunity to do things differently.  If you have a good idea, you can get heard.

Equity is a superior growth model.

Use resources, like the Green For All web site, Policy Link Center for Equity and Infrastructure 

This is our money - this is our moment.

Heather Box, CA - If you know of a working model, how do we get the funding there?

Van Jones - Real specific - if you have a workforce investment board - figure out who is on it.  They might have some flexibility and might have the wrong view.  Might not think of the people who didn't have a job before.  We can go down to the community college, the workforce investment board - and change their minds.

Angela- Build partnerships with Labor

Jason - Still pots of money out there for new programs.  Governors could build new jails, or they could green up school districts.  We need to be involved as they make these decisions.


Agriculture and Small business in the recovery package?
We looked at 38 programs in the recovery act, and did not cover in the Guide, but we will follow up on this.  We just could not get to these programs, we just didn't have time.  We will address in subsequent reports and resources.

As a state legislator - what kind of state legislation would help shape the recovery act?

Jason - There does not seem to be a huge role for state legislatures in how the money gets spent.  The decision point rests with the Governor and their agencies.  There are roles for state legislators who are on advisory boards, etc.  But don't appropriate money or affect how the money flows.

Radhika - Legislators can:

1. Call for commissions that would think about targeted way to spend the dollars. One such commission just formed in CA.

2. Equity and criteria for how this money is spent.

Van Jones Closing
Advocates have been waiting for this for a long time.  And now that it is here - It can be stressful.  You want to do it well and get it right.  But you don't know how to.

Don't let that stop you.  Get involved in the conversation with your local officials.  Ask questions.  Tell us about what you are doing, so others can learn from you.

Remember - no individual person, coalition, or organization is going to have all the answer.  Talk to each other, share information, help each other.  Post question, post information.  Use a networked approach.  There is enough wisdom on this call to solve these challenges.

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Posted by Brent Flickinger at Feb 25, 2009 10:17 AM
I know the money needs to be spent quickly but ultimately we need to find new ways to operate, e.g., getting off the grid, growing our own food, setting up cottage industries, and other initiatives at the neighborhood level. Can money be used to expand Americorps/VISTA-type efforts to revolutionize how folks do business in the future rather than simply carry out exisiting projects or create service jobs working for multi-national corporations?