As you drive down Rainier Avenue past Vietnamese nail salons, Somali-owned halal restaurants, and storefront churches, you might not be expecting the three-foot tall banner that reads “Making the Green Economy Work for Our Communities.”
Yet, this is the location of the new green movement – a movement that sees environmental protection and economic opportunity working hand-in-hand. In an abandoned home behind the Emerald City Bible Fellowship Church, 15 unemployed residents are hard at work learning weatherization skills in a real-life construction setting.
Got Green, the group coordinating the training, forged a partnership with the church and its community development arm – Urban Impact – to transform this old gray house into a learning laboratory. Following the three-week, federal stimulus funded training; Urban Impact will develop the site to become an “Urban Art Center for Youth.”
In partnership with the Laborers International Union of North America, Got Green is providing a three week “Weatherization Installer Technician” training under a U.S. Department of Labor Pathway Out of Poverty green jobs training grant. Got Green is a part of the Seattle King County’s Workforce Development Council’s GreenLight Project funded under President Obama’s American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.
Graduates from Got Green’s weatherization program will be in the pool of qualified local hires for contractors participating in the City of Seattle’s Community Power Works (CPW) program – a $20 million stimulus funded project to weatherize 2,000 homes in Southeast Seattle. The CPW project launches April 19.
Steve Bury, Urban Impact Executive Director states, “We are excited about the partnership with Got Green. We are training leaders in our neighborhood and raising them up in the green job sector.”
Ruby Jones, 30, the first woman trained through Got Green’s weatherization program, is pleasantly surprised to see stimulus money being spent in the Rainier Valley.
“This is the first time I’ve seen money being used right in the heart of our community, especially for energy efficiency.”
For Jones, the weatherization training class represents many things: an opportunity for living wage employment; skills she can use to weatherize her own home; and knowledge that she looks forward to giving back to her community about energy efficiency and cost savings.
Got Green, a local grassroots organization, works to ensure that low-income and communities of color able to participate and benefit from the new green economy, invites the community to see stimulus at work in our neighborhood.