poverty – Chicago Newstips by Community Media Workshop http://www.newstips.org Chicago Community Stories Mon, 08 Jan 2018 18:45:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.13 Poverty rising in Chicago http://www.newstips.org/2013/09/poverty-rising-in-chicago/ Thu, 19 Sep 2013 20:15:45 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=7699 Nearly 1 in 4 Chicagoans, totalling over 636,000 people, lived below the federal poverty level in last year, according to the Census Bureau’s newly released community survey — indicating an anemic recovery and city economic development policies which have failed to target living-wage jobs for neighborhood residents.

The number represents an increase of over 6,500 Chicagoans in poverty over last year’s survey.

The Illinois Hunger Coalition cited the figures to argue that Congress should reject cuts to nutrition assistance now under consideration in the House of Representatives.

“Hunger and poverty rates spiked at the beginning of the recession and have stayed high ever since,” said Diane Doherty of IHC.  “Given the economic struggles that continue to persist in this state, it is outrageous that Congress is even debating cuts to SNAP,” said Diane Doherty of IHC.

SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps.  The House of Representatives is set to vote on a Republican proposal to cut funding for the program by $40 billion over the next ten years.

An estimated 1.85 million people in Illinois live in poverty, including 20.7 percent of children, according to the survey.  Previous surveys have found that more than half of African American children in Chicago live in poverty.

IHC has also cited a new study from the Food Research and Action Center that found that more than 22 percent of Illinois households with children said there were times when they could not afford the food they needed.

“What these data tell us is that there’s a new reality for too many Americans,” Doherty said.

Don’t fear 15 http://www.newstips.org/2013/08/dont-fear-15/ Thu, 29 Aug 2013 23:07:21 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=7652 With fast-food and retailer workers striking in 58 cities Thursday — a dramatic increase over the seven cities where similar actions took place last month — calling for a $15-an-hour wage, here’s an interesting historical note:

Fifty years ago, when Martin Luther King spoke at the March on Washington, one of the demands was a minimum wage increase from $1.15 to $2 an hour.  That would be just over $15 in today’s dollars.

In case we’re tempted to get carried away with this “dream,” the Chicago Tribune offers us University of Chicago economist Allen Sanderson’s advice: “Don’t fight for 15.”

All in all, it’s a pretty thorough demonstration of how far the dismal science can stray from any connection with reality.

First of all, he warns that if workers become too expensive, they risk being replaced by automation.  In fact, though, it’s really hard to imagine how much more automated McDonald’s could be.   Or to picture computerized checkouts at Macy’s.

He suggests higher wages would mean even higher unemployment rates for minority teens.  That might be a factor if there were a better job market for older people, but there isn’t — especially with an economy that is quickly replacing middle-class jobs with low-wage ones.

More than half of new jobs are in low-wage retail and hospitality sectors, according to the Chicago Political Economy Group.  And the number of college graduates earning minimum wage is steadily growing.

In fact the surge in youth unemployment came before the 2008 crash, while the economy was growing (not very fast), as federal funding for youth jobs was eliminated.  As we noted at the time, it was the first economic recovery in which youth unempoyment increased.  That was without a minimum wage hike, too.

Really poor?

Sanderson then looks into the “claim” that “one can’t live on $8.25 an hour and that someone working full-time would be in poverty.”  Not true at all, he says — a full-time minimum wage worker earns $16,500 a year, a generous $1,000 above the federal poverty level for a two-person household.

Of course, if the full-time worker had two kids rather than one, the family would be at about 20 percent below the poverty level.  Which is not exactly quibbling.

But the reality is that only about one-third of minimum wage workers have full-time jobs.  That’s one of the reasons fast-food workers want a union — so they can negotiate over things like scheduling.

And the poverty level is widely discredited.  It was developed in the 1960s and is based on a moderate food budget, multiplied by three.  But since then other costs — particularly housing and health care — have grown at a much higher clip.

In 2009 the Social Impact Research Center of the Heartland Alliance estimated (pdf) that in order to meet basic needs in Illinois — housing, child care, food, transportation, and health care — using tax credits but not public benefits (with no allowance for leisure, travel, or emergencies), a single parent of two children would have to earn $23 an hour.

WBEZ recently profiled a part-time Macy’s worker who earns minimum wage plus commissions.  She also works second part-time for minimum wage as a telemarketer.  She’s got four children and a partner who also works a minimum wage job.  She’s also on food stamps and Medicaid.

“At the end of the week, I still don’t have enough money to put food on the table and clothes on my children’s back,” she says.

Who pays?

A crucial question, Sanderson says, is who will end up paying for these wage increases.  Will it be stockholders with lower returns, or customers with higher prices?

We looked at this a couple weeks ago, when the Tribune asked whether customers would be willing to pay higher prices to cover higher wages — but failed to give any idea of what those prices might be.  You’d think an economist would be interested in this detail.

Economists Jeanette Wicks-Lim and Robert Pollin of the University of Massachusetts have indeed looked into this — they say a $15-an-hour wage for McDonald’s workers would raise the average  price of a Big Mac by 22 cents.  Ouch!

How about McDonald’s shareholders?  According to Paul Buchheit, the corporation’s profits average out to $18,200 per worker.  There’s certainly room to pay a little more without too much pain at the top.

But there’s another question that’s just as crucial, which never seems to get asked: who pays for the low-wage economy?  Besides Macy’s workers who can’t quite cover food and clothes, that is.

Who pays for the food stamps and Medicaid to supplement Macy’s minimum wage?  Who pays the $5,815 a year that an average Wal-Mart worker gets in public benefits?

First in line, of course, are taxpayers — which in Illinois disproportionately means individuals over corportions (the state leads in several outmoded tax loopholes for corporations, and two-thirds of corporations in the state pay no income tax), and with our regressive tax structure, it means moderate-income taxpayers bear a heavier burden.

Right after that come all the residents who don’t get the services they need — like the hundreds of thousands who’ve had their health care cut, including hundreds of medically-fragile children and many others shunted into nursing homes.  Or the thousands of Chicago schoolchildren who don’t have libraries or art teachers.

Because Macy’s and Wal-Mart need our tax assistance in order to keep their wages low.  (And please don’t ask them to pay more taxes!)  Why aren’t the deficit hawks at the Tribune screaming about that?

Beyond that, everyone who’s waiting for the economic tide to rise — all the unemployed, underemployed, and discouraged workers, all the small businesses that are barely hanging on — would be helped by the immediate boost to our economy of higher wages for a major sector of the workforce.  Workers with a little extra money will spend it, and that’s good for everyone.  The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability has estimated that a $2 boost to our minimum wage would inject $2.5 billion into the state economy and generate 20,000 jobs.

That could even help get more people shopping at places like McDonald’s, or at Macy’s and Wal-Mart — all reporting declining sales, all citing slack consumer demand.

Instead, our political and opinion leaders are forcing us into a downward spiral of growing low-wage work, anemic job creation, and increasing austerity in public services.

The members of the Workers Organizing Committee are displaying remarkable courage, standing up for themselves and their families in a threatening economic environment, with little besides their own solidarity and nerve to sustain them. In fact they are standing for a better economy for all of us.

Meanwhile the defenders of the status quo deploy every scare tactic they can to get them to back down.

My guess is that’s not going to work.


The invaluable Dirt Diggers Digest gives an overview of McDonald’s history in light of Thursday’s strike –including union resistance when the company initially tried to move into San Francisco and Detroit in the 1970s, McDonald’s role pushing for a lower minimum wage for teenagers, and its resistance to efforts to ensure that farmworkers picking its tomatoes are paid decently.

“More than any other restaurant operator, [McDonald’s] has worked to suppress pay rates, enforce harsh work procedures and prevent unionization. In other words, it epitomizes everything that the current strikes are trying to change.”

But “McDonald’s response to the farmworker campaign shows that, when put under enough pressure, it will make concessions.”

Disability and poverty http://www.newstips.org/2009/09/disability-and-poverty/ Wed, 09 Sep 2009 20:56:30 +0000 http://communitymediaworkshop.org/newstips/?p=718 Disability accounts for poverty in far more cases than we commonly realize — and people have a greater chance of experiencing disability, too, according to a new report (pdf) from the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

About half of working-age adults who experience poverty have a disability; of those who are poor for at least three years, two-thirds are disabled. 

Food shortages, evictions, utility shutoffs, skipping medical care — all are more common for people with disabilities.

The report also finds that male household heads in their mid-50s have a 53 percent chance of having been disabled and a 19 percent chance of chronic and severe disability.

“These new findings show that any serious attempt at an agenda to reduce income poverty must take disability into account as both a cause and consequence of poverty,” said author Shawn Fremstad.  Health insurance, paid sick days and sick leave, and modernization of Social Security disability are of particular importance, Fremstad said.

Not far above people with disabilities are people who care for people with disabilities, who are among the lowest-paid workers.

Poor folks and climate change http://www.newstips.org/2009/08/poor-folks-and-climate-change/ Thu, 20 Aug 2009 20:56:17 +0000 http://communitymediaworkshop.org/newstips/?p=687

“The effects of climate change will hit low-income communities first and hardest,” writes Dan Lesser at the Shriver Brief.  And while climate change policy could stimulate the economy and create green jobs, its costs could also fall on low-income folks, he says.

The Shriver National Center on Poverty Law is planning a symposium on climate change policy and low-income communities in Chicago on September 30.

Ideas for Obama http://www.newstips.org/2008/11/ideas-for-obama/ Fri, 07 Nov 2008 15:57:39 +0000 http://communitymediaworkshop.org/newstips/?p=328 President-elect Barack Obama faces tremendous challenges, and local advocates and organizers — many of whom have worked with Obama over the years — offer a range of ideas on how to make the bailout work, address the foreclosure crisis, target economic stimulus to jobs and better transportation, and move forward on immigration, education, media reform and campaign financing.

In addition, some express concern over the prospect of administration positions for local establishment figures Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett and Arne Duncan.

Bailout and foreclosure crisis

Obama’s first challenge is making sure the recent financial bailout works. The National Training and Information Center is preparing a platform to present to the new administration, including a detailed focus on the bailout and the foreclosure crisis, said Gail Parson. A national network of community organizations with several affiliates in Chicago, the group gathers thousands of members in Washington D.C. every spring to press for action from federal agencies and lawmakers.

According to Parson, the group will call on Congress to establish an oversight board to review how the Treasury Department administers the $700 billion financial bailout. Banks receiving bailouts should be barred from lobbying or donating to congressional candidates, she said. And the Treasury Department must use the authority given it under the bailout bill to mandate broad-based, permanent loan modifications — including reductions of principal and interest.

“In our experience case-by-case loan modifications don’t work, and voluntary loan modifications aren’t working,” Parson said. She points to the large-scale outreach to trouble Indymac borrowers by the FDIC, which took over the bank earlier this year, as a model.

Parson applauds Obama’s endorsement of a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures, but goes further, calling for a suspension of all foreclosures until the loans involved can be investigated for fraud, deceptive and unfair practices, and disclosure violations. NTIC also supports amending the bankruptcy code to allow court-ordered loan modifications for primary residences. And given that a third of all foreclosures involve multi-unit buildings, provisions must be made to allow renters to stay in their apartments and continue paying market rent after foreclosure, Parson said.

NTIC calls for requiring banks getting bail-out funds to make credit available to the public, and also calls for restoring interest rate caps, pointing out that the elimination of those caps in 1980 made the subprime industry possible. They call for credit card reform and stronger anti-predatory lending legislation. And they call for modernizing the Community Reinvestment Act to cover investment banks, mortgage companies, and insurance companies — as well as affiliates of bank holding companies now exempted from CRA review. “CRA has been the most effective regulation in ensuring that low and moderate income communities get affordable and quality loans,” Parson said.

With four million families facing the possibility of foreclosure, this is not the time to be tearing down affordable housing, said DeAngelo Bester of NTIC’s Housing Justice Campaign. They call for an immediate moratorium on the demolition of public housing until full funding for federal housing programs is restored, and until a one-for-one replacement requirement is restored, he said

He adds that Obama should appoint a HUD secretary who “puts the interests of tenants and communities before the interests of developers.” How about Valerie Jarrett? “Absolutely not,” Bester says. He came up against Jarrett’s Habitat Company as a community organizer working with residents of subsidized housing on the West Side. “She is not the right person,” he said. “She has backed slumlords in Chicago.”


The next major challenge facing Obama is the threat of a major recession. In some communities, things have been tough for a long time. On the West Side, the South Austin Coalition, working with NTIC and Chicago Jobs With Justice, has been arguing for a national jobs program for some time. “The violence plaguing our communities has a direct link to poverty and unemployment,” said organizer Elce Redmond. SAC has called for a massive, publicly funded program to rebuild infrastructure and build a green economy, with jobs targeted to the unemployed and underemployed.

The Chicagoland Green Collar Jobs Initiative, which includes nonprofit workforce development groups, is putting organizing muscle behind Obama’s program to create millions of green jobs for low-income people — wind, solar and biofuels, retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency, expanding mass transit and rail, constructing a “smart” electric grid. CGJI spokesperson Paige Knutsen, director of sustainable development for the LEED Council, points to national Green For All leader Van Jones, who has heralded the rise of what he terms “Green Keynsianism” in the face of economic contraction, calling for a Green New Deal with a Clean Energy Job Corps.

Any federal jobs program — either a stimulus initiative focused on infrastructure projects or a green jobs program — should have a component for low-income people with employment barriers, said John Bouman of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. He describes a transitional jobs program with subsidized jobs combined with case management which transition into private employment.

Bouman also emphasizes more support for programs that help low-income workers make ends meet — child care subsidies, food stamps, transportation and utility assistance. “None of these is currently meeting the need,” he said. And he expects Obama and Congress to move quickly to enact an expansion of the State Child Health Insurance Program; earlier this year, President Bush twice vetoed SCHIP expansions passed by Congress. “That would establish momentum for a larger health care program,” he said, “and it would cover people during the couple of years it will take to get that.”

For the labor movement, the priority is passing the Employee Free Choice Act, a measure that could raise the living standards of millions of American workers by removing obstacles to union organization, said James Thindwa of Chicago Jobs With Justice. Under the measure workers could form a union by simply signing up a majority of bargaining unit members.

“It’s needed because over the past 30 or 40 years, corporate America has waged a successful campaign to weaken labor law enforcement,” Thindwa said. “Today an employer can violate labor law, fire workers trying to organize, and the penalties are so minimal, there’s no deterrent. It’s a slap on the wrist.”

Thindwa said many labor activists are “very, very disturbed” by the appointment of Rahm Emanuel as Obama’s chief of staff, especially after a massive union effort to support Obama’s campaign. Emanuel “was a champion of NAFTA, and those of us who fought NAFTA remember the role he played,” he said. “Perhaps Barack can have a salutory effect on him.”


Others are focused on getting priorities right with transportation projects included in two stimulus bills expected in coming months — and especially in the reauthorization of the surface transportation bill, which comes up next year.

“We should be spending in ways that don’t make our problems worse,” said Brian Imus of Illinois PIRG, listing the economic drag of oil dependency and higher gas prices; growing, and costly, traffic congestion; and global warming. “If Congress is going to spend billions of dollars on transportation infrastructure, it should go toward projects that address those problems.”

That means giving priority to fixing existing roads and bridges over building new highways — which add huge long-term upkeep costs — and investing in transit, rail, and other alternatives. Transportation For America, a national coalition backed by Illinois PIRG and other local groups, has identified about $30 billion in ready-to-go infrastructure repair projects, grants to support struggling transit systems and help them acquire green vehicles, and projets to expand transit, address rail bottlenecks, and connect pedestrians and bicyclists with transportation networks, said David Goldberg. Infrastructure repair gets more employment bang for the buck than new construction, he said, because it doesn’t require costly engineering and property acquisition.

Such priorities should carry over to next year’s transportation bill, which could begin to look at revamping the funding structure, based on gasoline taxes and heavily weighted toward highway construction, Goldman and Imus said. “We need a new approach that looks at our goals,” said Mandy Burrell of the Metropolitan Planning Council. “We need to be expanding transportation options, not just moving people around faster.”

That could mean reconsidering the Prairie Parkway, the proposed new 37-mile billion-dollar highway connecting I-80 and I-88, cutting through agricultural and natural areas, said Stacy Meyers-Glen of Openlands. The newly reelected congressman there, Bill Foster, has said he opposes further federal funding for the project and is looking for ways to shift a $207 million earmark won by former House Speaker Denny Hastert for an initial five-mile stretch into improving Illinois Route 47, which already connects the two interstates.

That’s a less costly approach that wouldn’t crowd out funding for badly-needed improvements to the existing road network in the area — especially east-west connections between existing residents and employment — and it wouldn’t push development to areas where it isn’t desirable, said Meyers-Glen. “We need transportation to track good planning,” she said.

Smarter priorities would also mean backing off from construction of a new airport in Peotone, said George Ochsenfeld of Shut This Airport Nightmare Down. The airport itself could cost a half billion to a billion dollars, with another billion needed for new infrastructure to support it, he said.

“The existing roads can’t even handle the construction equipment, they need a new exit on I-57, and on and on,” he said. “We should put money into high-speed rail and fixing infrastructure that already exists, not unneeded airports,” he said.

(As a state senator Obama backed Peotone — along with the competing O’Hare expansion, which is moving forward while Peotone idles, lacking airline support and caught up in political wrangling.)

Rick Harnish of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association points to growing demand for Amtrak — and to Obama’s support for Amtrak in the Senate. “It’s particularly important to start expanding the railway network as fast as possible, and the first step is a large order for rolling stock, so they can quickly add seats and beds to existing trains and get service added to places where it’s needed,” he said. In Illinois one focus is making the Chicago-St. Louis train faster, with new signals downstate and fixes for chokepoints in and outside Chicago, he said.

The Chicago Metropolitan Planning Agency is bringing local civic groups together over the next few months to develop recommendations to reform federal policy toward metropolitan regions, said MPC’s Burrell. She said federal agencies tend to focus on congressional districts to the detriment of regional planning, and multiple agencies often fail to coordinate transportation, housing, employment, and environmental policies. Along with a New York State group, MPC is also co-hosting a “mega-regional” conference on planning for the Great Lakes on November 17 in Chicago, she said.


Obama has supported easing obstacles to citizenship, including sharp fee hikes and onerous citizenship tests. He could reduce such obstacles through administrative measures with little cost, and he could push for funding for a national citizenship promotion effort along the lines of Illinois’ New Americans Initiation, said Fred Tsao of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Obama has also criticized massive dragnet-type workplace raids and detentions as disrupting families and communities, Tsao said, and as president he could shift to more targeted enforcement actions. “A lot will depend on who [Obama] picks to head Homeland Security,” he said.

On immigration reform and legalization, “it’s the job of our organization and our allies to push the new administration to act sooner rather than later,” Tsao said. The increasing significance of Latino voters, who provided the margin of victory in several states and congressional districts, “could have an influence on the landscape for immigrant legislation.”


Obama will be the first real education president, according to Julie Woestehoff of Parents United for Responsible Education. “He gets it,” she writes on PURE’s blog.

“He organized to help establish local school councils in Chicago, and supported them in Springfield. He held the top board position at a foundation whose mission was to improve educational opportunities for low-income, urban children. He stands up for parents and teachers. He understands that the No Child Left Behind Act is a disaster that needs immediate fixing.”

NCLB has “fundamental flaws” including overreliance on standardized testing, labeling struggling schools as “failing” and punishing them by withdrawing funding, Woestehoff said. Obama “has been out front on needing to change the way we assess students,” she said.

In September PURE and the New York-based group Class Size Matters released a letter to presidential candidates (pdf) calling for attention to school overcrowding and safety, smaller class sizes, a rich curriculum including arts, and parent involvement, “with progress evaluated by high-quality, appropriate assessment tools that are primarily classroom-based.”

While Obama has called for doubling federal funding for charter schools, the two groups argue that the proliferation of selective enrollment schools “risks creating wider disparities between the haves and have-nots…[W]hat is often advertised as increased parental choice actually means the ability of such schools to exclude our neediest students. The last thing our nation needs is a ‘trickle down’ educational system.”

Not surprisingly, PURE has opposed the suggestion that CPS chief Arne Duncan be considered as Obama’s education secretary, saying that position should be filled by someone with in-school experience who supports parent involvement.

Media Reform

The next president will face what could be “the mother of all consumer backlashes” early next year when TV signals go digital on February 19 and millions of households — perhaps 20 percent nationwide — lose their television signal, said Mitchell Szczepanczyk of Chicago Media Action. He cites shortcomings in the government’s voucher program for digital converters. Obama has vowed to smooth the transition.

He’ll also have a chance to reshape the Federal Communications Commission, where minority Democrats — who have fought losing battles for localism and against media concentration — will get a majority. Obama has spoken out for greater diversity in media ownership and has said he would step up anti-trust scrutiny of media mergers.

A larger challenge — effecting our economy and our democracy — is the need for a national broadband policy, Szczepanczyk said. The U.S. is far behind other countries in affordable and high-speed internet access, with one-third of households having no internet and another third limited to dial-up. Obama should follow through on his promise to enshrine “net neutrality” in law, preventing internet providers from favoring some kinds of content over others, Szczepanczyk said. Policies encouraging municipal and community internet — which have been opposed by telecom and cable companies — are needed too.

“The U.S. is turning into a digital backwater,” Szczepanczyk said. “We need to join other countries that treat the internet as a utility, not a commodity.”

Campaign Reform

“When Obama opted out of public campaign financing, he said the system is broken and promised to work to fix it, and that needs to be a very serious priority for him,” said Cindi Canary of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. This has been “a remarkable election, with far more public involvement than we’ve ever seen before” — unpredecedented voter turnout and “lots and lots of small donors” — and it presents an opportunity to “find creative ways to institutionalize small donor participation,” perhaps with public matching funds for small donors, Canary said.

She also proposes requiring free air time for candidates from TV broadcasters as a condition of their free broadcast licenses in order to cut campaign costs, level the playing field and provide better information on issues than TV news now does.

Government transparency and ethics is another area for action, Canary said. The new president should “take some of the work he’s done in the Illinois Senate and the U.S. Senate and take it several steps further,” including more stringent reporting requirements and donation limitations on lobbyists, she said.

Canary brings it back to the bailout: “As we spend hundreds of billions of dollars on these bank bailouts, we need to make sure it’s done in a transparent and accountable way.”

Green Jobs Now http://www.newstips.org/2008/09/green-jobs-now/ Thu, 25 Sep 2008 17:26:48 +0000 http://communitymediaworkshop.org/newstips/?p=287 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.”


Shriver Center launches blog http://www.newstips.org/2008/06/shriver-center-launches-blog/ Tue, 10 Jun 2008 19:34:00 +0000 http://communitymediaworkshop.org/newstips/?p=208 The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law has launched a new blog — John Boumann cites a new study showing that 22,000 people died in 2006 because they didn’t have health coverage, to urge action on health care; other entries discuss Congress’s failure to pass meaningful legislation on the foreclosure crisis, Bush administration efforts to undermine family and medical leave, cultivating new anti-poverty leadership — and using your tax refund to “recession-proof your house.”

CRS, Herbert, Wright http://www.newstips.org/2008/04/crs-herbert-wright/ Tue, 29 Apr 2008 16:56:20 +0000 http://communitymediaworkshop.org/newstips/?p=165 Today New York Times columnist Bob Herbert writes that Rev. Jeremiah Wright is bad news for racial reconciliation in America (and for the presidential candidacy of Wright’s most prominent parishioner). 

 Tomorrow Herbert speaks at the 125th anniversary luncheon of the Community Renewal Society, the local civil rights project founded and supported by Wright’s denomination, the United Church of Christ — Wednesday, April 30, 12 noon at the Fairmont Hotel, 200 N. Columbus.  Herbert will give the keynote, speaking on “Poverty Beyond the Bush Years.”

PS – Monroe Anderson has a different view of Wright’s reemergence.