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Republic Windows and green jobs

Rev. Jesse Jackson is going beyond demands for legally-mandated severance pay and pressing Bank of America to reinstate Republic Window’s credit and save 300 jobs at its Goose Island factory, AP reports.

President-elect Obama is promising a green jobs program that would include retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency.  That could provide a giant boost to the market for Republic’s energy-efficient windows and doors.

Green-collar jobs for Logan Square

A proposed workforce initiative bringing green-collar jobs to laid-off workers and community residents caps several years of community efforts to save a Logan Square manufacturing plant as a job-providing site.

LISC Chicago is sponsoring a $250,000 grant proposal for the Green Exchange Community Workforce Initiative to provide community jobs in a green business community planned for the building that housed the the Frederick Cooper Lamp Company (2545 W. Diversy) until it closed in 2005.

The initiative grew out of efforts by the LEED Council and Logan Square Neighborhood Association to save jobs at the former manufacturing site. The LEED Council will work with businesses in the Green Exchange — a “Green Merchandise Mart” with showrooms for environmentally-friendly businesses — and LSNA will help identify former workers at Cooper Lamp and low-income community residents for jobs there.

“We see it as a wonderful initiative for the community — and for other communities to use as a template,” said Rev. Sandra Castillo of Episcopal Church of the Advent, an LSNA leader.

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Urban Earth Day

An Urban Earth Day event April 22 will establish Kennedy-King College as a “green hub” for the South Side, part of the greening of Englewood and the “green village building” strategy of Blacks In Green.

Naomi Davis of BIG envisions the college offering training in green trades and, beyond that, establishing a “green business school” to help build sustainable communities that will heal violence and alienation.

An “eco-fest” starting at 11 a.m. will feature family activities promoting ecological awareness — recycling activities, healthy cooking demonstrations, and workshops on energy conservation, urban gardening and bicycling.

Douglas Farr and Orrin Williams will speak at a closing program at 5:30 p.m. Farr is a noted local green architect whose new book, “Sustainable Urbanism,” argues that environmentalist need to move beyond an enthusiasm for green buildings to build sustainable communities.

Williams is a long-time environmentalist who directs the Center for Urban Transformation, aimed at creating ecologically sustainable communities and economic development projects in communities of color. He also directs employment training for Growing Home’s Wood Street Urban Farm at 58th and Wood. He’ll discuss models for the greening of Englewood.

“It’s important that the people of Englewood and other people of color tune into environmental issues, particularly as related to the emerging green economy and green jobs,” Williams said.

Fresh food in corner stores

He’s been working with Teamwork Englewood, whose quality of life plan identified access to healthy food as a community priority. He talks about a range of strategies, from a new farmers market to establishing produce markets and installing produce kiosks in corner stores, and even re-establishing the hand-pushed produce carts once common in the city.

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The Dream Reborn

A raft of Chicago activists, including several from Blacks in Green, are heading to Memphis to mark the 40th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King at “The Dream Reborn.”

The conference brings together grassroots proponents of a national commitment to job training, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in the emerging green economy, especially for people from disadvantaged communities, to fight poverty and pollution together.

Among Chicagoans attending are Naomi Davis of BIG (the group is also bringing two young environmental organizers and two young community activists from Englewood) and Kindy Kruller of LEED Council, who chairs the Chicagoland Green Collar Jobs Initiative (see last December’s Newstip).

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Green Collar Jobs

Chicago has a wealth of green building professionals — architects, engineers, designers — but there’s a gap when it comes to trades people trained to install and maintain green technologies, said Kindy Kruller of the Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) Council.

Jobs in green technologies are good-paying jobs — and they can’t be outsourced, Kruller points out.

The gap is likely to grow with a number of government initiatives, she said.  Next year the city will require large developments to capture half of their stormwater; the state is requiring major investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency by Com Ed; and Congress is now considering a green jobs bill.

The Chicagoland Green Collar Jobs Summit this Friday will bring together green professional, community organizations, workforce development groups, and others to coordinate efforts to develop a skilled workforce that can meet new “green market” demands and provide employment for low-skilled Chicago area residents

Speakers will include Nwamaka Agb of the Ella Baker Center in Oakland, California, which recently launched a national “Green For All” drive to secure $1 billion in funding for green-collar jobs and lift 250,000 Americans out of poverty; Annette Williams, who directs the Bronx Environmental Stewards Training program for Sustainable South Bronx; and Jeremy Hays fromt he Apollo Alliance, a national coalition of labor, environmental, and business groups which addresses clean energy as a stimulus to economic rejuvenation.

Kruller and Dr. Victoria Cooper, who heads the new Building Energy Technology Certificate program at Wilbur Wright College, are working with a number of local groups including representatives of the city and the Chicago Federation of Labor on the Chicagoland Green Collar Jobs Initiative, to promote and coordinate training for jobs in environmental technology.

Center for Neighborhood Technology Marks 25 Years

The Center for Neighborhood Technology is kicking off a new “Innovation Fund” and unveiling its new green office building at a celebration of the group’s 25th anniversary on October 16.

A pioneer in urban environmentalism, CNT has combined basic research and practical application to foster an array of innovative approaches to creating livable communities in the city, ranging from the Community Energy Cooperative and the I-GO car sharing project to Location Efficient Mortgages, which allow homebuyers near public transit to apply transportation savings to cut housing costs.

The Innovation Fund is intended to support the groundwork for new projects too conceptual for traditional funders. As examples of what the fund would support, CNT executive vice president Steve Perkins cites community-based wireless broadband networks, which CNT plans to pilot in several low-income Illinois communities this year, or a new project to identify and utilitize existing wetlands and greenways to promote the region’s water quality and stormwater management goals.

CNT is also unveiling the second phase of the green renovation of the former weaving factory in Wicker Park where the group has its offices. The renovation is intended to demonstrate the value of energy-saving technologies for older buildings. It showcases technologies that reduce electric demand during peak loads, including an ice storage tank and on-site power production by solar cells and gas-fired turbines. The building is state-of-the-art in energy efficiency, uses nontoxic materials and finishes, and features an indoor air-renewing garden and an outdoor rain garden (keeping runoff out of the sewage system). A display room will detail the building’s innovations for visitors.

The building is about 50 percent more energy efficient than the new city standard for new construction, according to Sharon Feigon, CNT’s research director, and project manager for the renovation. She said they expect the building to garner a platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council — only the fourth building in the country to do so.

CNT’s open house starts at 6 p.m. (a reception to support the Innovation Fund is at 5) at 2125 W. North Avenue.



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