I wrote this article for the Huffington Post. It can be seen in its original context here.
Van Jones and others have so successfully argued for green collar jobs--defined by Green for All as a job that does something for the planet, pays family wages and provides opportunities for upward mobility--that the term has become ubiquitous among politicians, environmentalists and social activists. This should come as no surprise, particularly in the current economic climate: after all, who can argue against creating more jobs for American families, jobs that also enhance our infrastructure, national security and environment? In fact, President-elect Obama recently announced a plan to create 2.5 million jobs over the next two years, and many of those will certainly be green collar.
But lost in all the talk of green collar jobs is the fact that there is a significant portion of the target population--low-income, people of color, the unemployed and underemployed--who want to be green collar entrepreneurs. For example, roughly 25% of the people that graduate from a green job training program in my hometown of Providence, Rhode Island want to start their own business. According to Mark Kravatz, who runs the program, the enthusiasm among these entrepreneurs is inspiring; they see how green can be good for them, their family and their community, and they want to get in on the game. So what’s the problem? Simply put, they have little to no options for accessing the capital they would need to make their idea a reality.
Last Friday, November 14th, I turned 24 years old. It’s hard to believe that another year has passed, another number tacked on to my age. This year my mom came out to visit from LA, and to celebrate we went out with a small group of friends--Mike, Adria, their daughter Siena, Michele, Nora, Marie-Laure and Mark--to an all vegetarian restaurant called the Garden Grille. The food and company were great, and though the festivities were far less ostentatious than last year, the occasion was nonetheless enjoyable. My mom only stayed from Thursday night to Sunday morning, and the time went by fast. Unlike last year (when the temperature was in the 30s) it was surprisingly warm, although rain and fog limited the amount of time we spent outside. More photos after the fold.
Last night, as I watched the election results come in and it became clear that not only was Barack Obama going to win but that he was going to win handily, I couldn’t help but feel as though something profound was transpiring. For the last 8 years whenever I have craved the inspiration of historical moments and rhetorical flourishes, I have had to find succor in the speeches of Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, and the other great orators and leaders that have inspired not only Americans but also the World.
But when Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination in Denver, and said the kind of things in his speech that one dreams of hearing politicians say, I knew that something profound was transpiring. Still, I, like so many in this country, was afraid that Obama would not win. In the final stretches of the campaign he had every nasty tactic in the book thrown at him--accusations of socialism, of “palling around with terrorists”, of being “not like you and me,” etc. So when 11:00 PM rolled around last night and Obama’s electoral votes were well over 300, all I could do was blink away tears and wait for this new breed of leader to come and give his acceptance speech.
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Click here to download a PDF of my complete thesis. Questions and comments are much appreciated!
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