Green Collar

Career Changes?

Thank you for the wonderful issue on “The Green Economy” (May 2009). Reading about Majora Carter’s work was so energizing (“Making Places and People Bloom,” by Jeannie Choi), as well as the article “Resurrection,” by Bill Wylie-Kellermann. What he is describing is what I have been fantasizing for Detroit: organic gardens, green building, and sustainable living.

I suggest hiring “volunteer workers” with ankle monitors—those people from our financial institutions who have been creating the “new economy” we are experiencing, and perhaps some of those who think torture is the “American way.” I suggest they stay in substandard housing with heat and hot water now and then, sharing a bath and doing their own cooking, laundry, and cleaning. Classes in biblical economics would be required, with neighborhood folks sharing their stories. Think of the money we would save on prison costs—and the added bonus of “job training” for their new careers.

Betty Neville Michelozzi, Aptos, California

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine August 2009
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

The New Environmental Advocates

Victoria Cooper can rattle off the challenges that green job training programs face as quickly as she can the reasons for excitement. Cooper, who directs environmental technology programs at Chicago’s Wilbur Wright College, cautions that there’s “no such thing as recession-proof jobs.” Yet green workers will be required if the United States is to clean up the messes of global warming and pollution. “Everyone thinks this is a panacea and is going to change the world,” Cooper said. “The reality is there’s a lot of work to be done, and it’s complicated.”

Some places to start are the areas in which Wright College’s programs prepare students: energy auditing, managing hazardous materials, alternative energy, and environmentally friendly construction. Cooper estimates that 90 percent of the program’s graduates—22 so far since fall 2006, with 22 more students enrolled—are employed in jobs in which they use skills they learned at the school.

Buildings are a key area for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through cutting fossil-fuel use. Residential, commercial, and public buildings account for 38 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, and consume 72 percent of the nation’s electricity, according to the independent organization the U.S. Green Building Council. New buildings can be designed to be environmentally friendly. Older buildings can be made more energy efficient. Wright, a city college of Chicago, offers a building energy occupational technologies certificate to students who complete six courses on energy systems for commercial and residential buildings, the technical aspects of alternative and renewable energy sources, and building operation and maintenance.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine May 2009
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

The Green Industrial Revolution

Throughout Pittsburgh are signs of a city that once pulsed with wealth and prosperity as the steel industry boomed in the early 1900s, only to suffer decline with the fall of American steel in the 1970s. Abandoned factories along the waterfront and boarded-up stone chapels stand like ruins, reminding residents of what once was. Today, the city has more than 14,000 vacant lots, scattered mostly in low-income neighborhoods such as Hazelwood and Larimer.

Amid the urban plight, however, a startup called GTECH—Growth Through Energy and Community Health—is giving Pittsburgh new hope. Founded by three graduate students from Carnegie Mellon University in partnership with Steel City Biofuels, GTECH hopes to revolutionize vacant-land management in an unconventional, earth-friendly way: by planting sunflowers in Pittsburgh’s empty lots.

“Sunflowers improve soil quality and produce seeds that can be turned into biofuel,” says Andrew Butcher, co-founder and CEO of GTECH. “This biofuel can be sold to help offset the cost of vacant land, which is often a prohibitive factor in managing vacant space.” After two years of existence, the organization has planted sunflowers in four Pitts­burgh neighborhoods and has started a job-training program to teach low-income locals how to tend and cultivate the fields.

But GTECH’s strategy is more than just a business model—it’s a vision for a green economy to replace the steel economy of the past. “This is an ideal mechanism to create a platform for green job opportunities,” says Butcher. “The heart of this project is the convergence between multiple sectors in the green economy: renewable energy, agriculture, and waste management environmental services.”

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine May 2009
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

How Green is Your Collar?

All the Democratic presidential candidates talked about “green-collar jobs.” But what are they? “Green collar jobs are blue collar jobs in green businesses,” according to urban studies professor Raquel Rivera Pinderhughes in a recent report. A green-collar economy will provide high-quality jobs, requiring basic skills, paying a living wage, with room for advancement, to a broad array of low-income or unskilled workers. The main problem, according to the report, is matching green businesses with job-ready workers.

Part of the solution, says Van Jones, environmental leader and president of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, California, was the passage by Congress of the Green Jobs Act of 2007 in August, which authorized $125 million “to create a new training program for energy efficiency and renewable energy workers … for market research, job referral, and job training,” according to the Congressional Budget Office report. Jones hopes that job-training programs will begin incorporating “green pathways out of poverty.” He is advocating that Congress fund $1 billion in green jobs training and is calling for the creation of 3 million clean-tech jobs by 2015.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine April 2008
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Subscribe