Jobs Needed to Turn the Lower Class Green

A "green-collar job force" made up of low-income people is necessary to get those with fewer resources on the initially costly green living bandwagon, according to civil rights lawyer Van Jones.

"In 1996, Jones co-founded the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights-a nonprofit organization designed to keep kids off the streets and out of jails. And today he is trumpeting an idea that's disarmingly simple: Let's funnel the coming wave of jobs in sustainable industries toward those who most need them, creating a "green-collar" job force that gives the working poor and minorities a chance to get ahead while also ensuring that this new economy has a labor force behind it. In 2005, Jones and his staff of 20 people launched a campaign for green-collar jobs. Two years later, they convinced the Oakland City Council to fund the first-ever Green Jobs Corps, which will begin training its first recruits later this year in fields like installing solar panels, weatherizing buildings, and laying green roofs."

"The power of a solution that bridges economic and environmental development, explains Jones, is that it has the potential to unite traditionally disparate factions of the progressive movement. 'For at least a generation, activists of all constituencies have believed they could fix their problems on their own,' he says. 'But separatism won't work. On the environmental side, you'll end up leaving so many people out that they'll be undoing all the good and undermining your efforts.' On the social-justice side, says Jones, boosting wages with the same old dirty jobs inevitably ends up hurting the poor, accelerating problems like cancer and asthma."

Full Story: Black and Green

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