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Green Jobs Now

Chicagoans from Altgeld Gardens to the North Park Village Nature Center will participate in a national day of action for Green Jobs Now on Saturday, September 27, part of some 500 events with tens of thousands of people nationally urging the government to invest in green jobs and clean energy as a solution to poverty and climate change.

At our Lady of the Gardens School, 13300 S. Langley in the Altgeld Gardens neighborhood, Blacks In Green is sponsoring an event from noon to 3 p.m. with a range of cultural activities — and farmers from Pembroke Farmers Cooperative in Hopkins Park showing horses and livestock and talking about the need for agricultural jobs in the regional food system.

At the Chicago Center for Green Technology, 445 N. Sacramento, the Chicagoland Green Collar Jobs Initiative is sponsoring tours of green buildings and workshops on green trades geared to students in job training programs as well as construction and manufacturing workers. (Tours of the green industrial park Rancho Verde, 2900 W. Ferdinand, take place at 11 and 11:30 a.m., and tours of the Green Center take place at 1:30 and 2:30 p.m., with workshops in between.)

Greencorps students will work on installing a rain garden at the North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N. Pulaski (all day), and the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance and Bright Leadership Institute will have an informational booth with Green Jobs Now petitions at the Conservatory’s annual perennials exchanage, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 300 N. Central Park.

One goal of the day is to put major federal investment in the emerging green economy on the agenda for the first 100 days of the new administration, said Naomi Davis of BIG — regardless of new budget constraints on the government.

“Just look at the subsidies big oil is getting,” Davis said. “That’s enough money to fund the reinvention of this country with a green economy. Why should [oil companies] continue to be subsidized when they’re the centerpiece of the problem?” (They’re also enjoying windfall profits.)

It’s about jobs, energy security, and a lower-cost energy system, said Kindy Kruller of Chicagoland Green Collar Jobs Initiative.

“We can’t drill and burn our way to prosperity. We can and must invent and invest our way there,” said Van Jones, founder and president of Green For All, sponsor of the national effort.

“Right now, there are millions of people ready to work and countless jobs to be done that will strengthen our economy at home,” Jones said. “There are thousands of buildings that need to be weatherized, solar panels to be installed, and wind turbines to be erected. There are communities that need local and sustainable food and people ready to farm the crops. There are public transit systems and smart electricity grids in need of engineers and electricians.

“Americans are ready to build the new economy. It’s time to invest in saving the planet and the people. It’s time for green jobs now.”

Another goal is “letting communities know there are jobs, careers and enterprises in the new green economy,” Davis said.

“All these markets are emerging, and the question is how do we start driving them?” said Kruller. “We especially need more diverse energy and transportation systems.” There are roles for business, consumers, and government, she said.

The Chicagoland Green Collar Jobs Initiative focuses on green workforce development. BIG has ambitious visions around “green village building.” They’ve promoted Kennedy King College as a “green hub” for green trades and business education, and are working with the Chicago/Calumet Underground Railroad Effort to envision a green village (encompassing Altgeld Gardens and parts of Roseland) based around a living heritage farm museum at the site of the Jan Ton farm on the Little Calumet River. The farm was a station in the Underground Railroad before the Civil War.

Located central to a five-state network network of hiking and biking trails, a green village and heritage center could be a cultural and eco-tourist destination, Davis said.

She emphasizes the symbolism of the Underground Railroad for today’s activists. “It was an outrageous vision — the abolition of slavery — it was impossible, it was illegal.” And the Underground Railroad brought people together across racial and cultural boundaries — “the same as the new green economy has to do.”

“We need to draw on the spirit of our ancestors and this great American story,” Davis said. “This is a time when such great things are possible.”


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Category: environment, global warming, jobs, poverty


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