Green Economy

Better Buildings Neighborhood Program

Greensboro’s Better Building Neighborhood Program aims to promote home energy upgrades, job creation, economic development, neighborhood empowerment, and consumer education.  To do so, the program offers all city residents an “energy saver power pack” with compact fluorescent light bulbs, a low-flow showerhead, and an energy saving power strip, as well as a range of financial incentives, including grants, rebates and loans, to encourage participants to make additional updates that will result in at least a 15 percent improvement in their home’s energy usage.  From the project’s launch in 2010 through December 2012, the project is credited with conducting 1,432 residential evaluations, completing 217 residential energy upgrades, and training 26 workers in performing energy efficiency upgrades.

Welfare Reform Liaison Project

The Welfare Reform Liaison Project (WRLP) is a community action agency that aims to help low-income families in Guilford County achieve self-sufficiency.  To do so, it provides workforce training and job placement in a variety of green-focused industries.  One training site is Mattress Go Round, a company that recycles old mattresses, and thus, diverts nearly 3,000 mattresses a year from local landfills.  Most recently, WRLP initiated training programs in digital imagery/paper reduction and “green” hospitality.  Between 2010 and 2011 alone, about 150 people found jobs after participating in one of WRLP’s training programs.

Community Organizing for a New Economy

Democracy Collaborative panel highlights transformative work of community-based organizations

Earlier this month at Left Forum, The Democracy Collaborative helped organize five panels on a variety of different topics related to cooperatives, sustainability and growing a new economy. The last session of the weekend, “Community Organizing for a New Economy,” offered a spirited conversation around some innovative new work that is helping build a new economy.

A Third of All States Now Have Benefit Corp Laws

A primer on the difference between B Corps and Benefit Corps
Copyright B Lab (bcorporation.net)
Last month, the state of Nevada became the 17th state to pass legislation enabling businesses to incorporate as benefit corporations. There are nearly a dozen other states considering legislation, illustrating just how rapidly this idea has spread since Maryland became the first to pass legislation in April 2010. Legislatures in all corners of the U.S. have supported this concept overwhelmingly. This widespread acceptance of a need for a corporation that is motivated by more than just profit is an intriguing trend especially as other environmental and economic trends continue to move in the opposite direction.

Worker Co-op New Era Windows Opens For Business

From sit-down strikes to state subsidies
Photo courtesy of Brendan Martin/The Working World

Last week, the New Era Windows cooperative celebrated its opening in a former Campbell’s Soup building in Chicago, the culmination of a hard-fought struggle by workers to save their livelihoods. Their well-documented struggle began in 2008 when the workers of Republic Windows and Doors occupied the factory to keep it from closing, attracting national attention. Read more about Worker Co-op New Era Windows Opens For Business...

Green for All, Albuquerque

Green for All, Albuquerque is the local chapter of a nationwide program aiming to implement scaled green job programs that provide a pathway out of poverty for low-income individuals and minority communities. To date, Green for All has brought together community partners to lead the Albuquerque Clean-Energy Careers Campaign to create city-wide comprehensive high-road clean-energy programs and policies. A key component of this program would be the use of a property-assessed clean-energy (PACE) financing mechanism that provides up-front capital for energy efficiency projects that is paid back through subsequent savings on participants’ property taxes.

Done Right, Eliminating Food Deserts Result in Community Oases

Building community wealth every step of the way
Pogue’s Run Grocer Mural, an initiative of the Indy Food Co-op. © Indy Food Co-op
Building healthy, vibrant and sustainable communities requires more than “bottom up” solutions. The importance of community ownership to ensure that projects that start at the bottom result in lasting community wealth for the people involved is often missing from the discussion. The local foods movement provides examples that illustrate the importance of this ownership principle in practice.

Rob Witherell

This month we interviewed Rob Witherell, representative for the United Steelworkers union in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In addition to working on contract negotiations, benefits analysis, research and organizing, Witherell has also led the United Steelworkers’ efforts on developing union co-ops and is the union’s lead liaison with the Mondragón Cooperative Corporation. In this interview, Witherell discusses what elevated co-op organizing to the top of the Steelworker agenda, commonalities between labor unions and cooperatives, how the union co-op model will work, what its challenges will be, and key accomplishments of the movement to date.

Creating Equitable, Healthy, and Sustainable Communities: Strategies for Advancing Smart Growth, Environmental Justice, and Equitable Development

Megan McConville

A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Sustainable Communities examines how communities across the country are integrating smart growth, environmental justice, and equitable development approaches to design and build healthy, sustainable, and inclusive neighborhoods. Author Megan McConville offers a range of examples from low-income, minority, tribal, and overburdened communities that illustrate ways community groups can shape development to better respond to their needs and their values.