Updates from local advocates for a green Recovery for all

Authors: Kasey Butler Since the Recovery Act was signed into law in February, Green For All has been working to turn this federal investment into green jobs and real opportunity for communities in need. As part of this effort, we have helped advocates get involved on a local level to call for transparent and just implementation of Recovery funding. We created many tools and resources to aid in this process, including a Recovery Resource Center and a Local Government Commitment. In this post, we share updates from several advocates who are using the Local Government Commitment to engage local officials on Recovery implementation.

The Commitment

Green For All’s Local Government Commitment is a way for local elected officials to commit to the principles of a green Recovery for all:
  1. Creating quality green jobs that lift low-income communities and communities of color out of poverty,
  2. Ensuringtransparency and accountability through participatory planning,
  3. Supporting pathways out of poverty into self-sufficiency.
The Commitment is an important first step for advocates to engage elected officials in conversation and get involved in the Recovery process locally. Elected officials often need a lot of support and pressure from advocates to follow through on their commitments.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Advocate rallies community, politicians to create jobs for homeless youth. Rashida Ali-Campbell is working towards employing homeless youth to build affordable homes out of recycled and reused materials. She has been planning and holding workshops on sustainable housing for youth and contractors, and workshops focusing on green jobs for youth in local schools. Ali-Campbell has applied for Weatherization Assistance Program funding and is building relationships with local elected officials, encouraging them to sign Green for All's Local Government Commitment. She has received a letter of support from Governor Edward Rendell and the Philadelphia City Council for her work. Vallejo, California: Persistence and hard work pay off for local advocate. Organizer Janna Besh found a new passion in life advocating for Green Jobs in Solano County, California. She simply did not take no for an answer, going time and again to City Council meetings. The 5th time she spoke at a Vallejo City Council meeting, Mayor Davis finally agreed to sign the Local Government Commitment. He also declared that the Commitment be turned into a city resolution, committing to green jobs, pathways out of poverty, and transparency. In the process Bash founded the Solano Green Alliance to build pathways out of poverty for disadvantaged people. She is working on various city committees, including one with the United Way, to develop a community center for youth green job training programs. Coatesville, Pennsylvania: Advocate applies for green job funding. Tim Sadler applied for a Workforce Investment Board grant to create 50 new jobs in their area, 10 of which were stipulated to be green-collar jobs. Sadler was not granted the funding, but has been working closely with the Coatesville City Council to raise awareness and support for green jobs, making sure they are included in plans for stimulus funding. He encouraged Coatesville City Manager Harry Walker to sign the Local Government Commitment. Coatesville is now looking at making energy-efficient improvements on its city hall, and incorporating green building and energy-efficiency in its future developments. The City Hall retrofits will employ local low-income residents. Green Cove Springs, Florida applies for Weatherization Assistance Program funding. Vice Mayor Felecia Hampshire from Green Cove Springs, Florida has been using the Recovery Act to stimulate several new city proposals and plans. The Vice Mayor said that, “Through the Weatherization Program we've informed citizens of what they are entitled to, by putting flyers in their electric bills... If they qualify, they could receive up to $6100.00 in assistance for energy-efficient windows, doors, etc....” Lucas County, Ohio: Lack of transparency in Recovery implementation process
. Organizer Zenola Sherman has faced great difficulty in calling for transparency and a seat at the table from her local government. She reports: 

"Recently, I contacted the Ohio Inspector General office because of the lack of transparency by both the City of Toledo and Lucas County in the receipt of stimulus funds.... To date access to this information is extremely limited and difficult to find and there is no public input or explanation. They are continuing business as usual. Moneys are being sent by the state and even the state's explanations are vague and barely comprehensible. Finally, no government entity even acknowledges how the moneys are including Pathways Out of Poverty; according to all of them they didn't know it existed and feel that it has no validity in theuse of the funds.” 

Despite Ms. Sherman's struggles she was able to get Lucas County Commissioners to sign the Local Government Commitment. Lincoln City, Oregon: Mayor signs commitment supporting the Green Recovery for All. Mayor Lori Hollingsworth of Lincoln City, Oregon signed onto the Local Government Commitment. But Lincoln City has not been able to secure Recovery funding for green jobs, a fact Mayor Hollingsworth attributes to its being a very small town. The town is still very committed to decreasing its impact on climate change. Mayor Hollingsworth told us: "Lincoln City is trying to do it’s small part to educate our citizens about global climate change, curb our carbon emissions and support a green economy". Coachella, California: Assembly member continues to support green jobs, signs commitment. Advocate Yolanda Rustad, of desertEcolution in Coachella, California worked with Assembly member Manuel Perez to get the commitment signed. Perez has "been fighting for green jobs, not jails for quite some time" and has been spearheading various green job initiatives in the California State Assembly.

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