Authors: Green For All
Green For All Fellows, Eric Mathis and Mike McKechnie are doing something that is a first for West Virginia's southern coalfields - creating green jobs for unemployed and underemployed coal miners and contractors.
The innovative Fellows are part of a group dedicated to bringing renewable energy jobs to Central Appalachia, an area long reliant on the coal mining industry.
People were skeptical when the idea was first floated about a year ago, says Nick Getzen, spokesman for The Jobs Project, which is trying to create renewable energy job opportunities in West Virginia and Kentucky. In the southern coalfields, he says, people have only ever gotten electricity one way -- from coal-fired power plants.
"This is the first sign for a lot of folks that this is real, and that it's real technology, and they can have it in their communities," Getzen says. "In no way are we against coal or trying to replace coal. There's still going to be coal mining here. This is just something else to help the economy."
Read the full article on Bloomberg Business Week
Check out this great video about the work Fellows like Eric and Mike are doing and help green innovators like them by contributing to our competitive micro-grant fund. Your donation will matched dollar for dollar up to $10,000 until February 16th, 2011.
Authors: Joseph Adamji | Green For All Fellow Candidate
Joseph Adamji, a Green For All Fellow candidate, is empowering his students to rethink their communities as well as their relationship to the environment. We are pleased to announce a group of Joseph's students, "The Climate Change Crew," as the winner of last year's Dream Reborn Story Contest. These remarkable young people are part of a program in the Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center, a youth development organization based out of the Science Museum of Minnesota.
No social movement has achieved success without the energy and creativity of young experiencing and critiquing the present, dreaming and writing their futures, and working collectively to change the course of history. From the civil war to the civil rights movement, music and creativity have come out of–and inspired–young people uniting for change. The track and video for Change is Needed is a powerful and collective story that sings the untold realities of our pollution and exploitation based economy, while advocating for one that works with the natural world, providing access and opportunities for all.
The youth featured in Change is Needed are part of a program in the Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center, a youth development organization based out of the Science Museum of Minnesota with the mission to "empower youth to change our world through science." The 24 students in the Climate Change Crew and Earth Buzz Crew have been working in the Twin Cities over the last year to understand, experience, and inspire a movement toward a just and sustainable economy. From educating themselves and their peers, to learning from and serving their communities- knocking on doors in cold Minnesota winters to raise awareness of an emerging green economy through events they hold, these kids are an example of the power in the creativity of young people, even in the midst of difficult times.
As an educator I see the value in beginning with what moves us all, music. Music is an educational tool, both in the creative process, tapping into a brilliance many go their entire lives without realizing, as well as in its power to reach people through education and outreach. Within just a few short weeks of starting my position, after making beats on garage band and having youth generate a "word-wall?" to describe environmental justice, the youth were writing lyrics and creating powerfully with each other, resulting in what you see today. During this process I was nominated to be a Green For All Fellow. Through the Academy Program I have become connected to a network of inspiring leaders across the country, working to ensure that our communities take leadership in the formation of a green economy. During the three day program in Oakland, I received comprehensive curriculum that will allow the youth I work with to become expert leaders. From the community events they hold to bring people together, to the young people they educate, and the new tracks we write, our work will reach new levels. I thank the Fellowship Coordinator and Green For All for showing strong support and investing in youth; they understand the value that young people bring to this movement. For the nine-month Fellowship term of service I am focusing on developing "alumni" programming to keep these youth engaged. The leadership that they build in these critical years is only a springboard into this work and it is of greatest importance that we keep them connected to this movement and to their communities after high school. It's a vision to go beyond critiquing and experiencing issues and concepts, to truly becoming experts in the field, shaping and creating jobs, influencing policies, and leading community development efforts as creative servant leaders. Without this vital piece, their experience in this movement risks becoming just another "elective" in their high school career. If fully invested in, young people can make the dreams we all sing our reality. Though society marks high school years as a forgotten age, between childhood and adult, I feel this is where the balance of freedom in thought without restrictions of identity, if tapped, can envision and create profound change. Let this music grab your soul and make you move.
Authors: Jose Narvaez | Green For All Academy Fellow Candidate Scientists aren't known for their ability to be funny, but every now and then it happens. In an article about sustainability, German chemist Michael Braungart says:
"But I can tell you, sustainability is boring. It is just the minimum. Like when you are asked "How is your relationship with your girlfriend?" What do you say? Sustainable? I'd say "I am so sorry for you."
Funny, but he is trying to make a greater point. Braumngart works on things like making candy wrappers that are not only biodegradable, but also rich with soil nutrients. So when that wrapper is thrown away and absorbed into the earth, it improves the soil quality. His book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things is a game changer. After reading it, you'll never look at the world the same way again. If you're taking the time to read this blog, you probably believe that we can have a mutually beneficial economic and environmental system. I strongly believe this to be true, and it is the reason why I chose to study clean energy engineering. When Green For All asked me to come up with a project for my Fellowship term of service, I knew exactly what I would be doing.
After much research and soul-searching, I decided on building a prototype electric bicycle for inner city youth. The seed of this idea was a design I created while I was living in an urban environment. I loved road bikes because they were practical for getting around the city. However, I loved the look of low-riders. I decided on making it electric because the emerging electric vehicle industry seems sure to blow up. I also wanted to ensure that our communities are ahead of the curve with this technology. One reason I chose to build an electric bike is the laws that apply to them. Although electric bike laws vary by state, they are usually less stringent than for regular vehicles. An electric bike will deliver a way to get around that is cheaper than a car, but also makes for an attractive and affordable option to young people in the city. The key would be to create a unique expression of our communities and at the same time a "vehicle" to help young people engage with emerging green technologies. This is not a product in the traditional sense. If the prototype is successful and we were able to mass produce the product, I would want it to be a product-service (a little more on that in a minute). If the hypothetical company were to be a success, it would be set up as a non-profit. The revenue stream would be used to pay fair wages, cost of materials and investments in future product development. Going back to how this could provide an edge up on this kind of technology: an electric bike is just a skeleton of an electric car. This means that if someone knows how to build an electric bike, they have the basics for building a career in this emerging field. Therefore we have to design the bike in such a way that it is open and easy to learn about. The goal is to make it at as easy to build and modify as a desktop computer. More importantly the bike is going to be a product-service, as mentioned above. If someone buys this bike, he isn't really buying the materials. What consumers want is a way to get a round and/or exercise. Once the customers are done with the whole bike or just a part, we would be responsible for taking back the components, breaking them down, and using them for new bikes. That means I have to design to recycle. It also means the customer would sign up for the bike service for as long as he or she needs, while the manufacturer would retain ownership of the material. After all, a person doesn't need the "material" TV, just the entertainment it provides. A person may continually buy televisions throughout his lifetime, without any responsibility for where the old televisions land up. With the product-services model, the manufacturer is responsible for any environmental damage this product may eventually cause. This damage is a personal thing for me. I was born in Ecuador. For those who don't know, this country's low-income communities have seen incredible destruction at the hands of multinational oil corporations. My commitment to recycle arises from these personal experiences. These are just one of the many possibilities I've been considering with respect to social enterprise. Another idea that has interested me is the concept of sliding scale pricing for consumer goods. That is, if a product produces a larger social good when it is consumed, the manufacturer can design the pricing in such a way that higher income consumers can offset the cost for those who cannot otherwise afford it. Organizations such as OLPC and Tom's Shoes have tried similar sliding scale pricing schemes. This is all an experiment where I can push the envelope of how far I can take the idea of social enterprise. I may be biting off more than I can chew, but that keeps it interesting!
Authors: Tanya Fields | Green For All Academy Fellow Candidate I feel blessed to be surrounded by brilliant and motivated people, both personally and professionally. One of those people is Janae Shields, a Green For All Academy Fellow. She is one of the most honest and straightforward people I know. One day, Janae said to me very matter-of-factly,"I nominated you for a Green For All fellowship. Someone named Rosa might be getting in touch with you soon. If you don't want to do it you don't have to, but I thought it would be good for you," and then ran off. I laughed nervously. I had no idea what this fellowship entailed and I was already stretched way too thin. Four babies, upcoming nuptials, one part-time job and the incorporation of my own social enterprise equal one extremely busy woman. Not to mention that I had reservations about Green For All–I had heard of the name, but I didn't really know what the organization did. I had an idea, but I didn't know. Were they creating jobs? Were they giving out money to create businesses? Were they drafting new legislation for this thing called Green Jobs? I wasn't so sure. I had yet to gauge the scope or importance of Green For All as an organization. However, Janae assured me that this would be a great opportunity to leverage an organization like mine, progressive and in its infancy. Also, there was a stipend. Not so bad... As promised, in about two months I received a phone call from an extremely friendly and well-spoken woman, Rosa. I was invited to become a candidate and had to commit to attending a four-day orientation in Oakland. I started to get good energy, not just from Rosa (who exudes positive energy), but also from the program itself. Since I first became involved in the social justice movement, I've known that there was a strong, progressive and revolutionary movement in Oakland. I wanted to establish a connection. Also, many of the preliminary materials that I received forced me to work out my vision. Who would be my partners? What is my larger vision? How would this work contribute to a Green Collar Economy? These were questions I knew in my heart, but hadn't yet fully answered. This opportunity came right on time. I had recently taken the plunge into full-time self-employment, and was more than nervous about how to make sure that my organization becomes an institution that is part of a larger movement and reflects the needs of the most marginalized people. How do we turn the tide away from more government assistance (and manipulation), and towards self-empowerment and careers with dignity? How do we make sure that these careers also pay homage to our planet and our ancestors who possessed a strong connection with the land? And how do I do this both efficiently and strategically? Even before I stepped foot in a workshop, Green for All was giving me the tools I needed to figure out the answers to these questions. They made sure I was properly informed and making the connections between climate change, environmental injustice and economic disinvestment. I was presented with real, verifiable facts and literature validating what I already knew. This was not through some stodgy, scientific lens, but through one that was progressive, balanced and transformative. On November 3rd, 2010, I boarded a plane headed for San Francisco. I was geeked up to be part of a movement, and the orientation surely did not disappoint. This was the most dynamic group of people I had ever been among. I was struck by how many of them were people of color, doing this work across all spectrums, from so many different walks of life and from all over the country. I was also struck by how many of them lacked pretense. All too often I find myself in a room of mostly well-educated—usually white—well-intentioned hipsters who can literally "afford" to be revolutionary. In contrast, these folks possessed deeply personal and meaningful narratives of why and how they came to do this work. No matter how varied their stories, that they were personal and genuine resonated with me. It was here, with these people, that I was able to draw my most recent inspiration. We cried together, partied together, debated hotly together, and most importantly, created an organic network of colleagues and friendships. During the four-day orientation with Green For All, we utilized tools such as workshops, seminars, trainings, panels and breakout sessions to create or expand campaigns that would tie into the larger mission: creating an inclusive and liberating Green Collar Economy. It was at the orientation that I was exposed to information, collated and sorted, that helped me to commit and strategize the BLK ProjeK's green business incubator training program. This program will train and prepare women to enter the workforce. Moreover, it will create cooperative sustainable businesses with a strong concentration on food system enterprises, with the intention of helping promote food sovereignty in disenfranchised hoods. I am certain that without the experience at the training, I would not now have the confidence necessary to commit to such a large undertaking. Possibly, the more nuanced tools that I gained are the feelings of confidence, capability and support to create such an initiative. Not only did I receive printed and digital materials, establish a new network of colleagues, and gain support from a well-established and funded organization, but also I was overwhelmed with the feeling of renewal, rejuvenation and pride to be part of a strategic national movement. And after only four days of orientation, I was anxious to see what the next eight months would bring. I realize that at the end of my term of service, I will not have reached a destination. Instead, I will have completed an extremely important component of a life-long journey. For that opportunity I am eternally grateful. Read Tanya Fields's bio »
Authors: Rosa GonzÃ¡lez | Program Manager, Green For All Academy
How do people in low-income communities ravished by joblessness and public health crises become the drivers of their own green economic development? Green For All Fellow Selim Sandoval migrated from the rainforest farm life of Guatemala to the inner city streets of South Central Los Angeles, and is now a social entrepreneur, educator, and community builder who recognizes the power of cooperation and team action. Through the Green the Rez campaign and the Write Choice Network, he and partner Monica Niess are seeding a healthy village model of community development by connecting impoverished communities to the funds and resources needed to play a leadership role in revitalizing economic, ecological and personal health. Inspired by Green The Block, a collaboration between Green For All and the Hip Hop Caucus, Selim spearheaded the Green The Rez campaign as a way to put tribal knowledge and leadership at the forefront of green development. These efforts quickly gave way to a focus on community health as the centerpiece of development. "Through our work on Native American reservations, we quickly realized through conversations with tribal leaders that improving the health of their communities was the top priority," says Selim. For this reason, they began focusing their efforts on securing federal grant monies and other resources to establish Federally Qualified Health Centers on rural reservations and Urban Indian neighborhoods. But these community health centers go beyond the conventional model of simply providing treatment to the sick. They are becoming the economic drivers in their communities, acting as organizing hubs for building a green economy and helping to spur green collar job creation. These centers are working to establish community gardens and improve access to locally grown, fresh foods – a key element to improving the health of a person with diabetes and other chronic illnesses, and a cornerstone of localizing the food system. These health centers also play a role in working with other tribal departments to provide an overall healthier environment in their communities through improved air and water quality and implementing green building techniques and renewable energy. The village model of community health is about more than just treating illness; it is a holistic approach encompassing all aspects of wellness from improving diet and nutrition to addressing environmental health concerns while alleviating stress caused by joblessness and poverty. The healthy village model of community development is testament to the power of the green economy to address some of our most pressing social issues. Through the Write Choice Network, Selim and Monica are helping to spread this comprehensive approach to community development to communities outside the reservation system and are discovering striking parallels between reservation life and the realities faced by residents of inner cities. An example can be found near San Francisco. Just ten miles north, Marin City is a city founded by migrant workers from the South, and was the backbone of the ship building industry during World War II. After the war, the federal government abandoned them in what is now known as Marin City. The largely African-American community was left without employment, permanent housing, access to healthcare, a super market, or public transportation. What makes Marin City so special is that even then, County of Marin was an extremely wealthy community, while Marin City residents were left with nothing despite the integral role they had played in rebuilding our Navy in the 1940s and 50s. Determined to improve their quality of life, Marin City residents organized themselves to build their community and were successful in getting the county to build them permanent public housing. Continuing this tradition of community organizing for basic needs, the residents have recently established their own local health center.
"Marin City is one of the poorest cities in the nation surrounded by the wealthiest county in the world. Marin City residents, like so many other low-income communities of color, are resilient, hard working people, committed to achieving community development through self-determination," says Selim. With the help of the Write Choice Network, leaders and service-providers in Marin City are applying for critical federal funding (made available through President Obama's Health Care Reform Bill) to expand their health clinic following the healthy village model of community development. Read Selim Sandoval's bio »
Authors: Zoe Hollomon, Green For All Academy Fellow Candidate
Most people don't understand how Food Justice and Food Security relate to Social Justice and Environmental Justice. I'd like to tell you a story to about a family from my community which I hope will shed some light on these critical issues and their interconnections.
I am a Green For All Fellow, and I love it. In July, I got to take part in a Green for All Academy Convening in Washington, D.C. where I had the chance to work with other Fellows to think and talk about how best to support one another's work in rural and urban communities across the nation. In addition to talking with each other, we also got to deliver a clear message to Senators about America's need for a strong climate and energy bill. I am incredibly grateful to the Green for All Academy for providing this amazing learning community. Where else do young green leaders of color get to visit with national green leaders like EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Green For All founder and former White House staffer Van Jones? Those conversations gave me great hope that people in the Obama administration are prioritizing renewable energy, energy and water efficiency, local food production, green jobs, and green business development in rural communities. This is just the latest in a string of amazing and rewarding experiences since coming into contact with Green For All. When my friend Kolmi heard that Green for All was interested in supporting social entrepreneurs who had started green businesses, she nominated me. The Green For All Academy training was the first time I had been around so many people of color who were movers and shakers in the green economy. For years I had felt isolated, hardly knowing anyone else of color in my industry. It was a powerful moment for me and many of the other Fellows there. My experiences with Green for All helped me see the need to reach out to rural communities and build their capacity to participate in the green economy. I started the Green the Rez Campaign to support what Native American tribes were already doing in the green sector, helping with capacity building and sustainable community development. Along with Edward Samson, CEO of the Bishop Paiute Development Corporation, I launched the Green the Rez Campaign on the Bishop Paiute reservation and established a local green team to coordinate training, technical assistance, entrepreneurship training, sustainable economic development, and facilitation of funding and investment capital for green business development. Thanks to our early successes, the Green the Rez Campaign is now expanding to all 27 tribes in Nevada through a partnership with the Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada's Renewable Energy Consortium. Being able to share my experiences with other grassroots leaders throughout the country — and figuring out how we can support each other — has been one of the greatest gifts of my time as a Green For All Fellow. It was inspiring and moving to hear about other Fellows' incredible successes and the impact they are having on their communities. I am excited to follow up with Green for All on the ideas and plans we developed at the convening in Washington, D.C. for supporting all of the Fellows in their work as grassroots leaders and social entrepreneurs.
Authors: Karen Monahan
Karen Monahan is a Minnesota Environmental Justice Sierra Club Organizer and Green For All Academy FellowRead more
Authors: Mahfam Malek
You may have heard that Green For All is on tour with hip hop star Drake, engaging his college audiences in the green movement this spring through the Green The Block campaign.Read more