Green-Collar Jobs for Urban America

Oakland is no stranger to adversity. Rising unemployment,
violence, and poverty rates have plagued the struggling community.
But instead of bemoaning their plight, residents are channeling
their efforts toward change. Van Jones and Ben Wyskida write in
Yes! that the city is embarking on a
movement to establish a green-collar job corps as a way to revive
the floundering economy and create a sustainable future.

The idea capitalizes on the burgeoning ‘green’ market in the
United States and is bolstered by efforts of the Oakland chapter of
Apollo
Alliance
, a national group whose goal is to establish millions
of clean energy jobs within the next 10 years. The partnership with
Apollo Alliance was spearheaded by the
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which is
directed by author Van Jones.

The Oakland Apollo Alliance initiatives call for a ‘Green Job
Corps’ composed of trained recruits, particularly low-income
residents, people of color, and former inmates. Other proposed
measures include incentives and benefits for businesses that keep
Oakland dollars local, and efforts to clean up the port, the fourth
largest in the country. The program is breaking new ground with its
efforts to achieve complete oil independence by 2020.

Oakland’s progressive mayor, Ron Dellums, is on board and has
vowed to push for a renewed and fundamentally green economy as the
foundation of Oakland’s revival. And it’s not a stretch — the
authors report that Oakland is a natural hub for sustainability,
with massive natural resources for solar and wind energy, millions
of dollars from an energy lawsuit settlement to use toward
sustainable projects, and a desirable market for green
investors.

To date, the coalition’s efforts appear promising — uniting
folks from varied professions and backgrounds and successfully
generating funding. Improvements are already underway, including
organic food delivery to low-income families, energy audits
performed by community youth, and green construction work by former
inmates. Jones and Wyskida hope that success in Oakland will
inspire other struggling communities across the country and prompt
change. — Elizabeth Ryan

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Green-Collar Jobs for Urban America

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