Green Jobs – Roots of Success

5th April 2011 by

Greetings from a beautiful San Francisco!

The research trip officially ended on Friday (I’m hanging around for a holiday – yay!), but I still have at least 4 or 5 more meetings I want to write up and send out on this list over the next week or two. If you don’t want to keep receiving the emails, just let me know.

Thank you also to all the people who have been responding to me about these updates. I’m sorry I haven’t had the time to reply individually, but I have a cunning plan. I will wrap up this mailing list by doing a call-out to those who are interested in working with the East London Green Jobs Alliance specifically, and those who would like to be part of a broader conversation about taking the green economy/green jobs agenda forward. So please respond to that when the time comes!

Now, on to the next update…

A few months ago, I got in touch with Raquel Pinderhughes, who is Professor of Urban Studies at San Francisco State University. She is an expert on green collar jobs, coining the term in 2004 to describe manual labor jobs related to improvements in environmental quality. She also wrote the landmark study, Green Collar Jobs: An Analysis of the Capacity of Green Business to Provide High Quality Jobs for Men and Women with Barriers to Employment, which provided critical guidance to the Oakland Green Jobs Corp, the first green jobs training programme that implemented the model that the Pinderhughes study proposes.

I am quite obsessed with the Pinderhughes model and it is providing the blueprint for my current work with the East London Green Jobs Alliance as we design our pilot project. You can read more about the model in her report for the Ella Baker Center, Making Green Work: Best Practices in Green-Collar Job Training. So you can imagine that I was very pleased that we were scheduled to meet with her this week to learn more about the environmental literacy curriculum that Raquel has developed, called Roots of Success.

The what

  • The Roots of Success curriculum is designed to be taught in a total of 45 hours, by a certified Roots of Success trainer. The curriculum is split into themes – Water, Energy, Waste, Transportation, Building, and Food and Agriculture. There is even a theme on Community Organizing, which was developed in response to a need identified by trainers that participants wanted to take action around what they were learning within their own communities. Each theme is split into 4 parts, covering an Introduction to the issue, Problems, Solutions, and Green Jobs in the field.
  • The curriculum is designed for ages 16+, and for those who have basic numerical and literacy skills. The pedagogy is incredibly interactive and participatory, with the aim that every student feels empowered and capable.
  • The Roots of Success definition of environmental literacy – Environmentally literate people have sufficient knowledge, skills, and understanding of environmental topics and concerns to be able to analyze and make informed decisions about environmental issues. Increasing environmental literacy is essential to ensuring that everyone, at every educational level and in all sectors, is able to participate in developing a cleaner, prosperous economy and more sustainable future. It is vital to enabling disenfranchised people and communities to participate in and benefit from the green economy.

The why

  • Raquel believes that environmental literacy is an essential component of any good green jobs training model, along with more traditional components, such as job readiness training and hard skills, etc. She believes that the environmental literacy component is about giving participants the greater context of their work and the knowledge that their work is meaningful, dignified and community-serving. If participants don’t understand the scale of the environmental challenge, they might not appreciate how important their work is, which is a real motivator to keep going and complete the training and entry-level work. This is especially true for jobs in energy efficiency and construction, such as installing insulation, where the everyday reality of the job can be dusty and repetitive.

Who uses it

  • Basically every green jobs training programme we’ve met in SF uses the Roots of Success curriculum, along with over a hundred others across the country. (Check out Sustainable South Bronx for a cool East Coast example of a green jobs project!). It’s also being used by community colleges and other community groups that want to skill up their people in environmental literacy, but aren’t being trained for a job.

The good news

It’s coming to the UK! I managed to sneak in an extra afternoon with Raquel, to become the first UK certified Roots of Success trainer!

I will be working with Raquel to adapt the curriculum to make it suitable for the UK context, but we will hopefully have a new version available sometime during the summer. It is all very exciting. There is also talk of Raquel coming over to train more people to deliver the curriculum, so if you are interested, do reply to this email with “Roots of Success” in the subject line to be kept in the loop on that.

And talking of environmental literacy, read how Unionlearn are doing their bit through their green workplaces programme.

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