Green Jobs for the People wants low income people to receive benefits from stimulus listen03/12/09 Seán Kinane
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Like other municipalities, Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa will receive a share of the federal stimulus funding set aside for energy conservation and green jobs. A new group is working to make sure that a portion of the stimulus money reaches those who need it most.
Green Jobs for the People is a newly formed coalition of community organizers that met Thursday afternoon in Ybor City. They want to insure that Hillsborough and Tampa target at least 20% of stimulus funding for green jobs toward low-income and at-risk populations. Joe Naroditsky is executive director and co-founder of FUSE, or Faiths United for Sustainable Energy. FUSE is an interfaith nonprofit group that advocates for renewable energy policies and energy conservation – like weatherizing homes.
“A big first step in fighting global warming and cutting our energy use is weatherize and retrofit every square foot of this country. … So that’s a ton of work. We’ve got a ton of people who need work, so the idea is let’s connect the people who most need work with the work that most needs to be done.”
On Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden and Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced details of nearly $8 billion in state and local weatherization and energy efficiency efforts as part of the federal economic stimulus package. They claim that the program will “put 87,000 Americans to work and save families hundreds of dollars per year on their energy bills.” Naroditsky says that part of the stimulus funding must go to the people who need it most.
Naroditsky was a Fellow of the Green For All academy that trains people on how to build a green economy that will address both poverty and climate change. This week Green For All’s founder, Van Jones was appointed by President Obama to be the Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation for the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
The best way to influence how effectively stimulus funds can help lift people out of poverty and protect the environment, Naroditsky suggests, is for people to organize on a local level, like Thursday’s Green Jobs for the People gathering.
Nick Algee is with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and is Florida director of 1 Sky. Algee says there’s no precedent for this amount of funding to be directed toward projects like weatherization, which makes it important to learn from experienced groups.
Rev. Warren Clark, associate director of FUSE, says the main goal of Green Jobs for the People is “to have economic justice with green jobs creation” in the Tampa Bay area.
Clark says that Green Jobs for the People will offer suggestions to local government groups, including the Hillsborough County economic stimulus task force that meets on Friday. One person who will help make the case is former Hillsborough Democratic Executive Committee chair Janee Murphy, who owns the Community Strategy Group that works with East Tampa nonprofits.
FUSE’s Warren Clark paraphrased Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to point out a silver lining in the foreboding clouds of climate disruption and the economic downturn.
Green Jobs for the People plan to speak during the public comment segment of the Tampa City Council meeting on April 9th to ask that 20% of stimulus funding for green jobs training go toward marginalized populations.