Time for cities to take the lead

11th October 2012 by

What a summer! The last time we checked in we were at the UN Rio+20 Earth Summit, tracking the negotiations around green jobs and green economy alongside the Adopt a Negotiator project. Since then, we have been schlepping around speaking to think tanks, councils, businesses, and even the Greater London Authority Economy Committee to share what we learnt from that experience.

What did we learn at Rio+20? That nation states are not up to the job of ensuring we make the transition to a green economy. The message we took away was that it’s time for cities to take the lead.

Nation states are not going to sort this out

Rio+20 was, in short, a total bungle. World leaders came, and world leaders went, but they were rarely in a room at the same time and, when they were, there was very little negotiating going on. Instead, what we saw was a race to the bottom, where countries took a fairly ambitious starting text and then deleted so much from it that what we were left with were the lowest common denominators.

This is what Nick Clegg said to the House of Commons after the summit, on June 26:

First, while the Rio Declaration was not all that we would have wanted, this was the first time a multilateral document expressing such strong support for the green economy has been agreed. That in itself is a major achievement, recognising that in the long term greening our economies should not conflict with growing them.

And this is the key paragraph from the Rio+20 “Future We Want” outcome document, relating to green economy:

56. In this regard, we consider green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication as one of the important tools available for achieving sustainable development and that it could provide options for policymaking but should not be a rigid set of rules. We emphasize that it should contribute to eradicating poverty as well as sustained economic growth, enhancing social inclusion, improving human welfare and creating opportunities for employment and decent work for all, while maintaining the healthy functioning of the Earth’s ecosystems. 

To be honest, it is not necessary to read through these paragraphs in full. You need only take note of the words I have made bold. Support, consider, emphasize. What is clearly missing, is action.

The role of cities

So, if nation states won’t step forward and take action, who will? This is whatICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability have to say on the subject:

Do cities have to step in where governments are failing to take effective action? Cities are cooperating internationally without borders, without customs, without military forces. They can address the issues of the future without the global power play that we see going on at intergovernmental level.

There are already examples where cities can claim much success as leaders of sustainable development. After the first Rio summit twenty years ago, Heads of States and Governments adopted Agenda 21, a ‘blueprint’ for sustainable development. All these years later, however, few countries can demonstrate a national success story of having implemented this agenda. It is Local Agenda 21, spearheaded by local governments that may be regarded as a global success story of moving towards sustainability.

It’s happening

As 10:10 have highlighted this week, the shift to a green economy is already happening. Solar panels are being installed, insulation laid out, bikes being taken out of the shed. And cities are taking the lead and stepping up to the plate.

Here, in London, there are so many projects out there showing that this city can do better. The UCU Greener Jobs Alliancethe GLA RE:NEW programme,Rubies in the Rubble – just a few examples of progress being made.

But, we need more action, and faster. That is why we are keeping on keeping on. Bringing people from all over our city together at the next Alliance meeting next week to explore how we can push the green economy agenda further. Let us know if you want an invite.

Failing forward

13th July 2012 by

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

Nobody likes to fail, do they? (…do they…? Answers on a postcard please). At least, I don’t like to fail. When a project hasn’t gone to plan, or ground to a halt, it is very tempting to go erase your mind somewhere in a tub of ice cream or TOWIE. Maybe that’s just me. Either way, sweeping failures under the carpet doesn’t do anyone any good. Because if we can’t share where we went wrong, or what barriers we found, how will others learn who are planning similar projects?

This is where the concept of ‘failshares’ comes in. Over the past few years, organisations such as Givewell have got brave and laid out their shortcomings. People across different sectors have got together and hosted ‘FailFaires’. Engineers Without Borders now release Failure Reports every year and have set up the site Admitting Failure to ensure that the international development community ‘fails forward.’ They define failing forward as:

  1. Operating in a safe environment for testing risky innovative ideas
  2. Recognizing failures early
  3. Admitting failures open and honestly
  4. Learning from these failures
  5. Adapting actions based on the learning in order to improve upon risky innovative ideas

So, in the spirit of failing forward, let me share the story of a project we have been trying to make happen over the past few months – the East London Greener Jobs Pipeline. We aimed for the Greener Jobs Pipeline project to work in partnership with employers, training providers and support agencies to create pathways into employment for approximately 15 young, unemployed people who wanted to work in the green trades. We planned to do this by taking participants through a training programme that encompassed pre-employment skills, vocational skills, financial literacy, wraparound support services, environmental literacy, and an apprenticeship or work placement in trades such as solar roofing, insulation, horticulture and recycling.

About 6 months ago, I wrote of some of the barriers that we were experiencing in trying to make this project happen. The main one was that we were eager to find an employer who could guarantee a work placement or apprenticeship before we recruited for the young people – we figured that there were enough training courses out there that led on to nothing. However, the truth was, we just couldn’t find an employer. We talked to dozens of businesses, but there were no jobs, especially after the FIT cuts. This delayed the project by months, but when we did eventually find an employer – a small, social enterprise that specialised in energy efficiency – we found yet more barriers to do with recruitment. We needed 10 young people to run the training, but when it came down to it, only 3 young people managed to make the registration day. This was despite having met with nearer 20 young people and their key workers who were keen to join the course and who planned to enroll.

So, what went wrong?

  • We were limited to a 16-18 age range because of government funding constraints. This was a really difficult age to outreach for because many at this age were already in education or training (which also made them ineligible for funding). Sadly, we had a lot of interest from 19 year olds that we had to turn away. If our age range had been broader, ‘we would have smashed it’, as one local youth worker from the Prince’s Trust said.
  • The time of year wasn’t that great – some young people who were interested in the course were about to sit their GCSEs, so our training started too early for them.
  • Working with ‘NEET’ young people can mean things don’t always go to plan - on the registration day, four confirmed attendees were absent due to: broken ribs, being arrested, housing problems and family problems.
  • The reliability of key workers – we often found that communicating directly with the young people was more efficient than trying to pin down their key workers – not the way round you want it to be. A couple of key workers were supposed to escort their young people to the registration day, but didn’t pick them up.
  • ‘Not another short course…’ - there is a real sense that young people can be jostled from one low-level course to another and not gain a meaningful qualification. Although the pipeline participants would have completed some pre-apprenticeship course content they were not gaining the full qualification, due to time constraints.
  • Unsure work placement offer- the above point was overcome with the provision of a guaranteed work placement. However, at the last minute our employer changed their offer of paid work from 3 weeks to 1-2 days – not enough to pull in young people when other courses with higher level qualifications being offered.

With lessons absorbed about partnerships, age of participants and timing, we hope that roll-out will now take place in autumn 2012. In the meantime we have been providing a training and employment signposting service to the young people who showed interest. We have helped, signposted and offered advice to 12 young people and 4 youth workers on other training and employment options. 4 of the young people have now applied for recommended courses and we remain in contact with the others and continue to send opportunities when they arise.

Although the project didn’t go ahead as planned, we have learnt important lessons which can be used when tried again later this year. The most important lesson is that there is a real need for this type of project. There are many young people who have slipped through the net, and even this project – which aims to engage with young people facing barriers to employment – has built in requirements that have been barriers to their participation.

Next time, we hope to use this learning so that we can:

  • Increase the age range
  • Start at a more appropriate time of year
  • Ensure that we only partner with an employer who can be truly involved in the design of the process, and that has capacity to provide paid work placements or apprenticeships
  • Ensure our training offer includes meaningful accreditation and qualifications

So, there you have it. Not everything works out. But we feel it’s important to share, as there are other people out there working towards the same goal of creating green jobs and skills for young people. It’s inevitable that approaches will be duplicated, but that’s only a good thing if we know that those approaches work!

Taking the time to examine the successes and failures of different aspects of our work also acknowledges the complexity of what we are trying to do. If it was so easy, the world would be saved by now, and we’d all have green and decent jobs. Amirite? Complex problems need complex solutions, and I feel like we’re on our way to figuring some of those solutions out.


UN summits, flying, decisions, decisions, decisions: or, how we think we change the world.

27th April 2012 by

I’m on a bit of a 90s kick at the moment – dungarees, lots of plaid, long straggly hair, and Grandmaster Flash on the stereo.

And it’s not just me feeling nostalgic, even the United Nations (UN) is rewinding to the 90s! You might not remember (I was only nine), but in 1992 the UN held its first ever conference on environment and development, otherwise known as the Rio Earth Summit. Lots of things came out of this conference, including an agreement on the Climate Change Convention (which in turn led to the Kyoto Protocol), and an agreement to “not carry out any activities on the lands of indigenous peoples that would cause environmental degradation or that would be culturally inappropriate”.

In other words, it was at this conference that the world set standards for itself on how to develop in a sustainable way. Twenty years on we are, of course, struggling to meet these standards. Every day brings another headline about some environmental challenge or injustice that is happening somewhere in the world. The 2009 Copenhagen climate conference, where we had hoped to find solutions for many of these challenges, was widely accepted as a failure. It seems that we need another boost of inspiration, determination, optimism, and motivation to get things moving again in the right direction.

Cue the Rio Earth Summit that’s happening this June, 20 years after the original (also known as Rio+20)! At this conference, the UN aims to get Heads of State and other bigwigs together, to assess how progress is going towards internationally agreed commitments, and to secure further political commitments to sustainable development. They will also be negotiating on two main themes, which are… drumroll….

- Green Economy in the context of Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development

- Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development

It’s not only bigwigs that will be there at this conference. Lots of representatives from ‘Civil Society’ will be there too, including NGOs, indigenous peoples, farmers, and an estimated 2000 young people! You can bet your bottom dollar that there will be a ton of lobbyists from business and industry too.

So, why am I telling you all this? Firstly, knowledge is power! And secondly, I will be one of the 2000 young people going to the conference! I’ll be running workshops for the youth there on building green jobs alliances, I’ll be following the negotiations, talking to our government’s negotiators, trying to get media coverage and blogging. I’ll be learning lots too and bringing lessons and stories back to the UK.

But, it takes a lot of carbon to get to Rio. Two tonnes, if you’re flying (which I am). Here at Otesha, we have a really clear travel policy which states that ‘All long-haul trips are made overland if possible. Flights are only taken as a last resort when no other transportation options are available and when the benefit of the trip is clear.’ Since travelling to Rio overland is super, super difficult (although you can read about our friend Lucy Gilliam, who is on an Edwardian sailboat to Rio as we speak – wow!), we had to make a consensus decision as a team about whether we thought this trip to Rio would be of clear benefit – to the people that I’d meet, to those who would read my blogs and learn about the summit’s progress, and to us as an organisation by bringing back learnings and contacts.

It was a really, really difficult conversation. We have a diverse set of beliefs here at Otesha, even if they are all rooted in the same principles. Like most people in this movement, we all differ slightly in what we think will create change, and how we should get there. Eventually, however, we decided that this was a pretty incredible and unique opportunity. It has been 20 years since the last summit, and who knows when the next one will be? Plus, when we co-coordinated the first ever UK youth delegation to the climate negotiations in Poland back in 2008, we created some pretty kick-ass youth campaigners and organisers as a result. I’m not sure if you can ever judge that one flight or another is more ‘worthwhile’, but we hope that being involved in this process will make a difference.

The exciting bit is, even though we don’t really believe in the concept of ‘carbon offsetting’ (see parody site Cheat Neutral for a good explanation of why) we are going to ‘spend a significant amount of time and money doing carbon-reducing activities’ (another bit of our travel policy). After lots of discussion and ideas, we’ve come up with a three-part plan.

Part 1: We are going to spend £50 on buying pollution permits from Sandbag, who take excess carbon credits out of the EU Emissions Trading System. We are also going to donate £50 to a community project through Global Giving.

Part 2: We are going to go out as a team and spend a day planting trees in our local community. We might buy a tree pack, or volunteer with Trees for Cities or BTCV.

Part 3: I’m going to do a 30-day vegan challenge before I go to Rio, and other staff members might join me! A vegan diet is a lot less carbon intensive, but I’ve never tried it before so I’m a little nervous. If I can go longer I will, I just wanted to set myself an achievable goal first!

I will be updating on how our three-part plan goes, and of course, this blog will be inundated with updates and learnings from Rio come June. So keep your eyes peeled, and vegan cookbooks at the ready!

Unfair Advantage

19th April 2012 by

A little cartoon abut doping (which allows me to crow bar in my interest in solar panels – sorry). Click to see the full size image. More cartoons here.

A just transition or just a transition?

7th December 2011 by

Otesha team member Hanna Thomas, who is lead organiser of the East London Green Jobs Alliance, has been writing in the Occupied Times – the newspaper produced by the Occupy London Stock Exchange camp – and warns that the Occupy and green movements must not assume complacently that equity and the move to a green economy will go hand in hand.

A major criticism that has been levelled at Occupy LSX is that the movement has become an umbrella for too many issues. “What do they want?” our mainstream media asks, as a stroll through the camp makes it clear that democracy and corporate greed are not the only issues being debated. Linger around St. Pauls, or peek your head into the Tent City University, and you will soon find yourself debating and discussing issues of mental wellbeing, gender equality, class, the environment, parenting, and the role of religion, amongst many, many others. However, rather than betray a lack of focus, to me the diversity of topics being discussed means something quite different – that our movements for social and environmental justice are growing up, that we are seeing connections and joining the dots between issues, and that we recognise that we are most powerful when allied.

There is much that we can learn from each other, and the global Occupy / Indignados movement has provided us with the perfect opportunity to compare notes. What’s working, what isn’t? Are our demands aligned, and does that even matter? However, there is one area of discussion that certainly needs to be addressed by the environmental and Occupy movements together, and that is ‘what does transition look like’? We say that another way is possible, but what journey do we have to take to get there? How can we work together towards building a new low carbon economy, one that incorporates values of social justice, equity, and democracy? Of course, this conversation is already well under way in many countries across the world, but different elements of our movement are in danger of pulling in very different directions. You might not think it, but transitioning away from a pollution-based economy and transitioning away from our current capitalist model do not necessarily have to have much in common.

Let’s not kid ourselves – the new, low-carbon economy could be one that retains all of the inequities and corporate greed of our current economic system. One where companies profit from the transition, while workers are stuck in green McJobs, doing the essential work of decarbonising our energy systems and retrofitting our homes but in a vicious circle of low pay and few opportunities for progression or training. Nor does the anarcho-marxist model of transition away from a capitalist state make any promises to those who are currently most underserved by our current society. The end goal may be distribution of wealth and workers’ rights, but the requisite insurrection and ensuing chaos that it takes to get there may only end up harming those that need the most help. Indeed, members of our unions are concerned that significant periods of economic restructuring in the past have often happened in a chaotic fashion that has left ordinary workers, their families and communities to bear the brunt. Indeed in the UK, many individuals and communities are still paying the price for the rapid shift away from industrial production over the last 30 years.

Perhaps there is a middle way, one that respects workers’ rights, the rights of the poor, and our planetary boundaries. This is where the idea of Just Transition may come in handy. Just Transition is a framework for a fair and sustainable shift to a low carbon economy, proposed by trades unions and supported by environmental NGOs, that seeks to prevent injustice becoming a feature of environmental transition. Just Transition recognises that support for environmental policies are conditional on a fair distribution of the costs and benefits of those policies across the economy, and on the creation of opportunities for active engagement by those affected in determining the future wellbeing of themselves and their families.

The framework is not foolproof – it does not deal with the capitalism question, nor does it a build a comprehensive vision of a new world. Questions about growth, nuclear, and means of production go unanswered. However, it is the beginning of an essential conversation about how we can create a new system that is both economically and ecologically viable.

What is not questioned is the speed at which we must act. The need to transition away from our current economic and social model in this country and the rest of the developed world is an urgent one. We are experiencing rapidly rising levels of inequality and, according to the IEA, we have only an estimated 5 years before the fight to mitigate dangerous climate change becomes a fruitless one.

Yes, the challenge ahead is immense, but so is our movement. Who would have thought, just one year ago, that the world would be engaged in a global conversation about corporate greed and the terms of democracy? A fair society that respects our earth may seem out of reach, but that is all the more reason to keep striving for it. As David Harvey has said, “Of course this is utopian!  But so what!  We cannot afford not to be.”

What the (bleep) is a green job?

26th July 2011 by

I am going to be writing a monthly guest blog on green jobs over at 10:10. Here’s the first one copied here for your pleasure, but click this link to see the original post with the pretty pictures…

A new phrase has been popping up more and more frequently over the past few years – it’s the ‘green job’. You may have also heard green economy get thrown around liberally too, by governments and activists alike. You might even have used these phrases yourself. But one question remains – what does it all mean?

Good question. The thing is, no one knows. Or, at least, no one agrees (no surprises there). Broadly speaking when people talk about green jobs, they are talking about jobs that will be created, or ‘upgraded’ by the transition to a low carbon economy. Beyond that, it’s all up for grabs.

For some, the term ‘green jobs’ conjure up images of young men and women in green hard hats; for others, it’s about hi-tech jobs that require an engineering degree. President Obama includes employment created by the nuclear and carbon capture and storage sectors in his definition of green jobs, whereas Caroline Lucas MP would run a mile from that, for all her talk on the subject.

The downside of this disagreement, is that when we hear politicians, or think tanks, or campaigners talk about how many green jobs will be created by the transition to a low carbon economy, they are all talking about completely different things and using different methodologies to get to those figures.

We can see this illustrated most clearly by the Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union’s Group’s petition, which eschews the term green jobs entirely and calls for One Million Climate Jobs instead.

The upside of this vagueness? As I said, it’s all still up for grabs. There is still time for us to decide what we want the terms ‘green job’, or ‘green economy’ to signify.

I’m working with the East London Green Jobs Alliance, on a jobs programme that will take young, unemployed people from the local area through a training scheme and into apprenticeships in solar installation or home retrofitting.

I’m doing this because, for me, a green economy is one that gives opportunities to those who need it most, as well as cutting carbon. A green job is one that provides meaningful, dignified work to those who need it, a living wage and opportunities for career progression, as well as having stewardship of our environment at the core of it.

I have hope that this programme will not only give some young people the chance to get into employment, but will have a ripple effect, educating their friends and family about green issues and inviting the local community to be part of a environmental movement that has, up until now, been more focused on organic food and hybrid cars than the very unsexy topics of fuel poverty, health impacts of waste incinerators and other examples of environmental injustice.

So that’s what I’m up to. Every month I will be updating you on my progress with the project and tackling other issues related to green jobs and the green economy. It would be great to hear what you think – what do you think should be included in the definition of a green job? What potential do you see in the government’s Green Deal? No one else has the answers, so perhaps together we can come up with a few!

Join the debate on Facebook and Twitter.

Green Jobs – Richmond BUILD

30th March 2011 by

Another glorious day in California! We have done so much but for now, let me tell you about Richmond Build.

The background

  • Richmond Build is a job-training programme of the City of Richmond’s Employment and Training Department, founded in 2007.
  • Richmond was one of America’s most violent cities 4-5 years ago, and Richmond Build was established in response to that, to help get people off the streets and into meaningful work.
  • They target people from low-income communities, aged 18 and upwards, who deserve a second shot.
  • It was first established as a construction-training programme but partnered with Solar Richmond in 2008, added training components in solar installation and energy efficiency and becoming a “green jobs academy”.

The numbers

  • They take three “cohorts” of approximately 30 people every year, whom they train for 15 weeks. They get 9 weeks in construction skills, 3 weeks in Green Energy Training (energy efficiency), and 3 weeks in solar installation training. Alongside this, they have 30 mins of maths every morning, a work-out every morning, constant access to a counsellor who can help them with any personal issues that they might have, such as childcare, anger management, substance abuse etc, and soft skills training in CV-building, time-keeping and general job-readiness.
  • The participants are 95% ethnic minorities. 60-70% african-american, 20% latino, and 5% asian, which broadly reflects the demographic of the city.
  • They get 200-300 applicants per cohort, so competition for places is fierce.
  • For the first few years, they were placing 90% of graduates into paid employment, although this has now dropped to around 70% (this is attributed to the current economy).
  • Most are going into regular construction jobs, with around 15-20% of graduates going into energy efficiency or solar installation jobs.

Why it’s possible

  • They are largely funded by state and federal grant, using stimulus package dollars. All grants from federal and state come upfront, not in instalments. They also get private funding from Chevron, and are seeking more funding from them.
  • Their (excellent) building is a city-building which they rent for the grand sum of $1 a year, and all utilities are paid by the city!
  • Local employers are bound by the authority to hire at least 25% of employees from the local workforce, so it is in their interest to have strong connections with Richmond BUILD.
  • There is no conflict for training participants between receiving welfare and receiving training. The US welfare to work scheme encourages recipients to volunteer / get training.
  • Richmond is a fairly small city – it’s easy to build strong relationships and partnerships, and easy for word of mouth to spread to attract participants.
  • They have a very dedicated and skilled staff team, which although small, has a wealth of experience in working with underserved communities.

The challenges

  • Lessons have been learned about what is required by employers, and therefore Richmond BUILD have added to the requirements of entering the programme. Before entering, participants must have graduated high school, have a driver’s license, have passed an “agility” test, and must leave the programme with a clean drugs test.
  • The number graduating into “green jobs” is low for a number of reasons – wages tend to be much lower with green employers, as those organisations are not unionised, and pay around $14-16 an hour. Traditional construction jobs, which are unionised, pay around $17-20 an hour.
  • The demand for solar still isn’t there – the hardware is too expensive, and electricity is still too cheap. As a result, the market for green energy jobs seems to be glutted in Richmond for now.
  • Relying almost purely on grant-funding is very unstable. If the grants stop, the programme stops.
  • They have varying levels of success with unions. The carpenters and laborers union has been very supportive, placing 4 women from the Richmond BUILD programme in their union last year – this means getting paid $20-25 an hour plus a ton of benefits. The electrician’s union, however, has not welcomed any graduates from the programme into the union, and this is attributed to ingrained racism and sexism within that union. Electric work is higher paid, less physically exerting, and more demanding in terms of arithmetic, but all interviews for acceptance are carried out by a panel of 15 older, white men, who are perceived to be rather protectionist over admission.

My observations

  • This is first and foremost a social programme, and is incredibly successful at engaging the underserved community and helping them into work and a new life. They have a very low drop-out rate, and from the students we met, I heard the term “family” more than once. Richmond BUILD are incredibly good at building a strong, warm and welcoming community.
  • Green jobs are not front and centre. They are placing graduates in well-paid work, wherever they can get it. Out of 100 students last year, only 3 were placed in “green jobs”, as a result of the challenges mentioned above. Although this is billed as a green jobs training programme, that definition is questionable.
  • Having said that, the accepted definition of green jobs over here seems to be within the energy sector. I wonder if they should widen their definition a little, as the participants at Richmond BUILD were also being taught how to work with less lumber and materials in the construction component. That seems pretty “green” to me.
  • They obviously get a lot from being privately funded by Chevron, but I got the feeling that it put them in a pretty tricky position last year when other environmental and social justice organisations in the area were lobbying against big oil companies in the No on Prop 23 campaign. Should they be putting themselves at potential opposition with allies? And should they be legitimising big oil by letting them fund a “green jobs academy”. All tricky questions.
  • I can not emphasise enough how life-changing and transformative an experience this programme seemed to be for participants. We met a 45 year old who had spent a large chunk of his life incarcerated, and has now gone on to land his first ever job. We met boys who credited Richmond BUILD for giving them their last shot at a decent life. I met two AMAZING women (top photo) who were completely inspirational. Shai (on the left) is 24. The programme has been completely transformative for her, helping her to focus on the task at hand, develop her skills, build her ambitions and gain confidence from being a woman in the trades. She wants to go into carpentry, but since she’s “good at destroying things”, she might go into labor! Her ambition is “to build her own house and not depend on a man”. Lela (on the right), told me everything there was to know about insulation. Her mission is “to save the world”. She wants to start her own business weatherizing houses, and she has done a lot of work on her own house already, helping to make it habitable for her family. None of her friends will litter in her presence since she won’t allow it. It was incredibly inspiring for me to see these strong women be in the minority and yet totally see themselves up for the challenge of a career in the trades.

So overall, a really great and encouraging experience, that left me with a few questions for what all this means for back home in the UK. I’ll have to keep thinking…

Goodbye Gear Up.. Hello East London Green Jobs Alliance!

15th March 2011 by

How time flies. It is March already, and that means our Gear Up programme is wrapping up. As coordinator of the programme, I have had such a fun time meeting all the young people we have worked with, mentoring them, helping them to gain more experience and start their journey towards green and meaningful employment.

We have worked with 18 young people in total, connecting them in internships and training in ethical fashion, waste management, green woodwork, green enterprise, and bike mechanics. They have also received training in local food production, money management, cv-writing, and cycling proficiency – Ozlem (above) loved her cycling training at Bikeworks so much that she is planning on giving up her car and buying a bike! I said goodbye to Ozlem earlier this week, sending her off with a reusable coffee cup and a copy of the Otesha handbook. But this isn’t the last we’ll see of her, or any of our Gear Up participants, as they will all be added to our alumni network, and continue to hear of job and volunteer opportunities, and other exciting things, through our weekly update. You can’t get rid of us that easily! Once you’re in, you’re in.

We’d like to say a big, heartfelt thank you to the Youth of Today for supporting this project.

And now, to pastures new! Our Gear Up programme might be winding down, but we have been squirrelling away in the background making even bigger plans for the coming year. Last November, we held our first roundtable discussion for organisations interested in local green job creation in East London, and we’ve had two more since then. Some very exciting people have been a part of the conversation – TUC, Friends of the Earth, Hackney City Farm, Bikeworks, Friends of the Earth, IPPR, UK Youth Climate Coalition, Aspire, London Development Agency, Tower Hamlets council, Tower Hamlets College, Young Foundation, Capacity Global, Fairbridge – I get excited just writing it out! Together, we have established the East London Green Jobs Alliance.

We have looked to the example of projects in the States, who have successfully created pathways into green jobs for young, unemployed people. We want to take that model and see how to make it work here in the UK. It’s all still early days – our mission statement is getting final touches to it as we speak – but we will be very excited to make it public in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about the alliance, and how we plan to learn from projects in the US, please look at my blog entry below and sign up for updates from my learning trip to San Francisco!

Lessons from California – want to be on a Green Jobs mailing list?

15th March 2011 by

From 28th March – April 2nd, I will be joining IPPR on their West Coast Green Alliances learning exchange. We will be meeting with some incredibly inspirational organisations and alliances over there, including Green for All, the Ella Baker Center, and the Apollo Alliance, among many others, to learn from their challenges and successes in stimulating the creation of good-quality, local jobs in emerging green sectors.

From a personal point of view, I am incredibly keen to establish what worked and what didn’t for these organisations, and to take the lessons learned and start to understand how to apply them to a UK context. This will be crucial to inform my work at The Otesha Project, as anchor organisation of the East London Green Jobs Alliance. It will also be crucial for those other organisations and projects here that seek to be at the forefront of the green jobs movement, and that is why I would like to share what I learn with those who are interested.

If you would like to receive email updates on my meetings in San Francisco (which will be brief and to the point, I promise!), and to be a part of sharing best practices on local green job creation, please email me at hanna@otesha.org.uk and let me know. Please also feel free to suggest anyone else who you think might benefit from this, that I might not be in contact with.

I look forward to building this movement with you!

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