I love working for the East London Green Jobs Alliance, but whenever I have to introduce myself, I wonder if we should have picked another name! We are just one of a handful of similarly-named initiatives. There is the Greener Jobs Alliance based in South London, the U.S. Green Jobs Alliance, the London Greener Jobs Hub, and the Green Economy Coalition to name a few. Sometimes, even I get confused.
There is a reason for this commonality though, and the thread that binds us is this idea of different actors working together, of being ‘allied’, of sharing information and standing together for our vision of a new green economy. There is a recognition that the job of trying to define what green jobs are, or figuring out where they are, is something that we can only figure out together, through debate and practical action.
As part of the East London Green Jobs Alliance’s pilot project, we hope to tour the UK next summer, sharing our learnings and best practices from the Greener Jobs Pipeline with those communities keen to start up their own green jobs programmes. In the meantime, here are the first few steps to getting your own Alliance going.
- Make a list of potential partners that you’d like to work with in your area. Start with the usual suspects – the environmental groups and NGOs – but then challenge yourself to cast the net wider. Think about schools and colleges, unions, businesses, the local council. How about your local church, faith organisation, or youth club? You never know where you’ll find your greatest allies.
- Once you’ve got your list, invite them to an initial roundtable where the aim is to discuss if there is any scope or interest in working together on the green jobs agenda. Lure them in with promises of tea and chocolate biscuits (this is very important).
- Make the meeting friendly and inspiring. Remember that everyone will have differing levels of knowledge around climate change and unemployment issues. Go round and ask people why they are there and what they want to get out of it. You’ll probably find that they do all the inspiring for you!
- After this initial meeting, you might want to have a few more (we did) to focus on how you want to move forward. Try and set some realistic and manageable goals. Out of all your ideas, which can your group achieve?
- Set up a taskforce of the most passionate and reliable people to make sure that the grunt work gets done. Someone’s gotta do it, amirite?
Those are the basic building blocks of your alliance! Then the real work begins – the funding applications, the delivery of your project, and the sharing (don’t forget to share your successes and your learnings!).
Hopefully, when your first project is done, you’ll be able to sit down and help yourself to some more congratulatory tea and biscuits. Mine are on standby.
Working with so many partners has its challenges, no question, but it is also so rewarding. That’s why I love 10:10’s Solar Schools project, which is bringing together so many different people from different communities, all with the aim of supporting their local school to upgrade to clean energy. One quick look at the website shows that E.P. Collier Primary School in Reading is over halfway to meeting their fundraising target after receiving donations from the local church, parents, a couple of cats (?!), and the local curry house! Amazing!
It’s things like this that really excite me about what the new green economy could mean. A resurgence of community, of looking out for each other, of sharing what works and what doesn’t, of being together. I’m in.
Hanna Thomas, Lead Organiser