Barbara Boxer Falls in Line
Penned by Nick
This morning Solar Richmond hosted Senator Barbara Boxer. Amongst a well-orchestrated public relations production, about 100 attendees from all walks of society milled about and got to know each other.
At a time when folks are wondering “where are the green jobs?”, this place seemed to have all the answers. People were together, training, and envisioning–indeed, realizing!–a cleaner, greener tomorrow.
But after the applause had died down and the press disappeared, I got a chance to sit down with Solar Richmond and hear about how hard it is to really change the world.
The reality of the situation, despite all the applause, was that there’s still a lot of hard work to be done.
Graduates from these programs still find too few career opportunities, and the support structure that surrounds them needs to be reinforced with more than just hard skills training.
As Senator Boxer noted many times, these graduates are our future, and their futures are tied to a cleaner, greener economy.
If we are to truly make an inclusive transition to the green economy, we need to do more to help at-risk citizens from falling into the trap of unemployment.
The self-confidence and sense of satisfaction these kids gain from programs like Solar Richmond is immeasurable. They literally beam out the good vibes. But they also need help polishing off their corporate personas and skills so that they don’t pass the class only to fail the real-world test.
A lack of reliable transporation, credible role models, and access to job opportunities daily reminds us all that it’s not easy to climb up above the fray of broken families, drugs, discrimination, and a broken social support system.
The Obama Administration is investing heavily in next generation job training programs. The programs promise to be premised on partnership, and in the process, bring together a stronger family of organizations in which to raise the next generation of environmental leaders.
Along with Senator Boxer, Solar Richmond, and the Administration, I hope that we all can continue to come closer together to support this vision, and in the process, ensure everyone benefits from a cleaner, greener tomorrow.