Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference

Hi - Sandra here.

Last month, I spent three days in Washington, DC, for the Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference. I was one of four Green For All Academy candidates/fellows on a panel called "Faces of the New Green: Models in Green Jobs Development Among Low-Income Communities & Communities of Color."

(L-R: Eric, Zoe, me, Selim; Rosa took the photo)

Zoe Holloman presented about the work she's doing in Buffalo, NY, with the Massachusetts Avenue Project's Growing Green program, which is doing amazing things like running an aquaponics farm (fish and plants growing together), teaching youth to grow food and sell value-added products (such as "Super Duper Salsa" and "Amazing Chili Starter") at one of the country's largest supermarket chains.

Eric Mathis presented about how his company The JOBS Project is building unexpected relationships with non-traditional allies to initiate alternative energy projects in the middle of COAL COUNTRY in West Virginia.

Selim Sandoval presented on... you know, after two presentations, I'm still not clear what exactly he does, but apparently he and his partner raise a crap-ton of federal money! And he was named to Grist.org's "40 People Who Are Redefining Green."

I talked about the lessons we've learned about workforce development at DWEJ over the three years we've run our Green Jobs Training Program. These include: engaging industry players/employers from the start, getting recruitment and selection right, staying connected to policy and policymakers, expanding the definition of "green" beyond energy, and focusing on training for legally required certificates (such as HazWOper and Lead/Asbestos Worker), which makes hard-to-employ people very marketable.

Green For All's Academy Coordinator Rosa Gonzalez did an amazing job roping us all in, getting us prepared and facilitating the heck out of our panel. I saw a lot of panels with less than 20 attendants. GFA did their usual spectacular promotions work and got over 200 people signed up for our panel, prompting the conference organizers to ask us to do a repeat session.

This was a good experience - seeing all the really cool things that are happening in other parts of the country (I guess sometimes I need a reminder that there are cool things happening outside of Detroit ^_^), and brainstorming solutions for shared challenges with folks as varied as Goodwill Industries and a latino electrical union from the Southwest US.

It was also really cool to meet other Green For All staff members I've been talking to about Community Benefit Agreements, such as Jeremy Hays, who helped facilitate the High Road Agreements for Seattle and Portland's Better Buildings programs.

This was my favorite exhibit, created by LIUNA. The little figures are all Barbie and Ken (and friends) dolls, in various weatherization installer poses. Very multi-ethnic - DWEJ and Green For All would approve.

I think the only thing that would have really made this better is if the folks who built and run the training program - Donele Wilkins, Roshani Dantas, Domiana Carter, Kinnus Paul - could have gotten the recognition for their work, and show the conference-attenders some of the true blue Detroiters that spearheaded the first really successful (85%+ job placement, baby!) green jobs training program in Detroit.

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