Great Expectations

This month I was given the opportunity to attend the Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference in Washington D.C. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I got was insight into the people and organizations that are rallying around the call for good, green jobs in this country. It was an experience that taught me about the need for green jobs, the challenges we face creating those jobs and once again, reminded me about the importance of the work we do here at Mile High Youth Corps.

The conference was hosted by the BlueGreen Alliance, a partnership of labor unions and environmental agencies to create more, high quality jobs for a green economy. Before attending this conference, I was unaware such partnerships existed and was impressed by the number of people who showed up to make their voice heard. With over 14 million members and supporters nationwide, the BlueGreen Alliance works on issues involving climate change, transportation, worker’s rights and even, toxic chemical policies. Clearly, there is an immediate need for jobs in the U.S. and organizations across the country are starting to see the benefits of creating higher quality jobs that are environmentally clean. It was refreshing to witness such a strong movement with passionate individuals working towards positive change.

Fortunately, the economic and environmental benefits of creating high quality, green jobs are becoming an issue on the forefront of our national political debates. However, the challenges we face to create them are still great. Just this past weekend the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, a proposal that would help coal companies and oil refiners escape new environmental regulations, bar the EPA to set new pollution and efficiency standards for vehicles, drastically cut funding for education, transportation and completely eliminate federal funding for PBS, NPR, Teach For America and AmeriCorps just to name a few. Many of these initiatives and programs have been in place for decades to help the economic and environmental health of our communities and are being put on the chopping block to establish a point of political power. With the passage of this budget, nearly one million jobs and the safeguards that ensure our clean air and clean water will be lost. This is not the first time such fiscal negligence will appear before our government and it will not be the last. Therefore, the road to creating high quality green jobs will not be an easy one but with hard work, increased exposure of the issue and the collaboration of dedicated individuals and organizations, good, green jobs can be apart of our future.

Finally, as a corpsmember, I think it may be easy to forget the importance of what we do in terms of the ‘Big Picture’, as it can get lost in the day to day work. At Mile High Youth Corps, we are already doing the work that 14 million+ members of the BlueGreen Alliance are fighting for. Each day our agency employs youth to work in their community, assists those that can’t afford energy by reducing their bills and helps make our environment much cleaner for generations to come. The Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference was a great experience, I learned so much from the talented professionals I got the chance to speak with. I would say one of the best things I realized from this opportunity was that I am one of those fortunate individuals who currently has a good, green job and it’s now my turn to help expand these opportunities to others for the well-being of our communities.

~Annie Matouka, Conservation Alumni Mentor

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