Having attended both Good Jobs, Green Jobs conferences; one cannot help but to try and compare the two. I say this because the conference has grown in both size and diversity since it was held last year in Pittsburgh. Not only were there more young people and more people of diverse ethnic backgrounds, but I also saw a more diverse array of labor and union organizations.
This was an exciting sight for me (yes, I know I’m being an organizing nerd now) because last year all I saw were mainly over 40, Caucasian people all wearing suits and schmoozing all over each other. This time around people were talking more about real issues and not the status of their organizations. To be honest, I was surprised.
Yet after having worked with mostly younger people of color who are already working on green/green jobs initiatives throughout the United States (via the great group Green for All), I shouldn’t be surprised that more concerned citizens have forced their way into the green jobs conversation. And yes, I said forced because it seems only a select few have been at the table when talking about environmental and labor issues in the past.
One of the things that I love about this green jobs movement is that it is working to bring communities back together. One of the ways it is trying to do this is by bridging the gaps between so many groups (environmental, labor, youth) that have always worked for the betterment of our people, but never have really worked together. It became very apparent to me that many people are ready to start working together again.
When I told my friend about the Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference, he commented on how weird it was for the Sierra Club and the United Steel Workers to be co-hosting a conference together. I responded by saying it may be weird, but it’s also progress. Amidst all the conversations we had together at the conference; we were making progress.
By learning alongside one another in workshops and preparing ourselves to take this information and action back to our communities, we were making progress. We were all experiencing this sensation of being one, and for that I was especially grateful in seeing that progress.