Green Jobs – Green for All

First I just want to say thank you for going through this learning experience with me. It’s been really great to have the opportunity to sit down and to really distill what I have learnt from each meeting. That doesn’t mean that it’s over though, at least one or two posts still to go!

For now, Green For All!

Who are they?

Green For All is a national organisation building the national movement for an equitable green economy. In January 2008, Green For All spun out of the Ella Baker Center and is now a totally separate organization. Green For All focuses on Washington D.C., and also provides support in “the 49 states” other than California. Van Jones was co-founder of both the Ella Baker Center (1996) and Green For All (2008).

A note on Van Jones

If you haven’t heard of Van Jones, read his wikipedia entry here. He is pretty much credited with spear-heading the green-collar jobs movement in the U.S., and is author of the excellent book, The Green Collar Economy. He was so successful at pushing the message, that Obama created a special post for him as Special Advisor on Green Jobs in 2009 (however, he stepped down shortly afterwards when Glenn Beck pulled his usual trick and orchestrated a rather public witch hunt). Jones is currently a senior fellow at the Center For American Progress and a senior policy advisor at Green For All. He also holds a joint appointment at Princeton University and is ridiculously good-looking (…wait, did I say that out loud?).

Green For All’s three primary tasks

  • Innovate Policy – GFA develops and advocates for innovative policies that 1) promote a clean energy economy to solve the urgent problems of both the economy and the environment, and 2) enable governments at the federal, state and local levels to expand access and opportunity in the clean-energy economy.
  • Develop capacity – GFA helps develop and strengthen the capacity of – and partnerships among – business, government, labor, non-profits and grassroots communities. These groups, sectors and partnerships leverage public and private investment to sustain a clean-energy economy and create millions of quality green jobs.
  • Build a movement – GFA engages and equips diverse and unlikely national and regional networks of leaders, organizations, coalitions and communities to build awareness and increase demand for policies and infrastructure that create clean-energy jobs and investment in green industries. The organization works to strengthen this popular movement’s ability to organize and effect change at the local, state and national levels.

Practical examples & Reading list

  • Check out the website for descriptions of all their brilliant programmes. More specifically though…
  • …we heard a lot about their pilot green jobs programme, Clean Energy Works Portland, which GFA are now using as an example of a leading national model. It sounds brilliant. Read the report and watch the video here!
  • Hot off the press! GFA’s Toolkit for Residential Energy Efficiency Upgrade Programs. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but it looks VERY useful.
  • And another one hot off the press! Green Jobs in a Sustainable Food System, which looks at the potential to create good, green jobs as the food system is becoming a source of sustainable economic development in local communities. As part of the IPPR group, we were particularly excited about this, as Green For All seemed to acknowledge that they needed to move away from a narrow definition of green jobs = clean tech / energy efficiency, and look towards other sectors. Water is a big one they’re thinking about too.

Observations

  • Green For All work on a $6 million a year budget (phewee!).
  • Again the numbers are smaller than you’d hope – 22 hires in the Portland model came from community-based training programmes.
  • They are brilliant at policy – they have helped pass 7 statewide policies to aid the creation of green jobs in the past 2 years.
  • They are BRILLIANT at media. This has a definite upside (having the ear of government, getting the Black Eyed Peas to tour the U.S. promoting green jobs for their Green the Block programme!), but also a downside – they seem to be playing catch up with their promises, and having to remind people that they are only 3 years old and still working towards their goals.
  • They see themselves as a “convenor”. They push for policy and demonstrate practical models. They support the replication of these models by hooking up other green jobs programmes with each other, giving advice on funding sources and other practical support. It strikes me that an organisation like this would be very useful for someone like me in the UK right now, trying to create their own pilot green jobs training programme!
  • This is just my impression, but they seem to be more flexible and adaptable than other programmes we visited (for example, broadening out their definition of green jobs sectors). Perhaps this is because they are purely focused on the green economy, and have no other agenda, which the labor movement or pre-existing non-profits with a prior remit might have.
  • This is their strap line – “Green For All is a national organization working to build an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty.” Using the term “green economy” and not “green jobs” might also be another way that they can remain quite open and flexible in their work going forward. They have a clear focus, but not so narrow as to back themselves into a corner.

Thanks for reading again! Till next time.

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