There was a time when Batman acquired the super human powers of Green Lantern, no joke. Imagine the combined powers of Batman’s wit and charm paired with the power of Green Lantern’s ring which can alter the physical world and is as powerful as the wearer’s willpower and imagination.
Those interested in tackling the difficulties of Detroit can take a lesson from this partnership of sorts, a sharing of resources, and a use of imagination to solve social problems. I’ve written about some issues happening in Detroit, some background, and so the next few blog posts will be focused on highlighting some critical solutions that Detroit needs to implement as well as some creative programs already in place.
Number one on the list is job retraining for skilled labor in green building and technologies. For places like Detroit (and Flint) there is huge potential for centers of education to refocus their resources to offer training that contributes to the green economy. Countless case studies have shown that programs that target low-income communities with green job trainings take a serious jab at fighting poverty, reducing crime, and building communities (Sustainable South Bronx SSBx; Green for All). Detroit is a great setting for these trainings because of the density of community colleges and universities. The city is also a critical location where there is a need to increase home energy efficiency: heating, cooling, etc.
For Detroit, building an “inclusive green economy” Detroit can work to reverse its history of class divide, reduce crime, and innovate industry all at the same time. At a time when jobs are needed, poverty is rampant, and new ideas for growth are a must, investing in education and training makes the most sense.
I wrote previously that this is one area that Detroit can learn from Grand Rapids, and it has. Grand Rapids Community College offers a wind energy program. The city itself is number one in LEED-certified green buildings. How far off could this be for Detroit?
In the Roosevelt Institute’s Midwest 2.0 Journal, author Cory Connolly (Pg. 17) highlights the statistics for a bright future in green careers for Michigan. He writes that 72% of energy professionals believe that there will be a shortage of workers in the green economy in the next 5 years (Apollo Alliance). Many Michigan education institutions have started some programs, but the state is well behind. Cory focuses on integrating career based trainings at the high school level through existing infrastructures. By creating partnerships with green industries and fresh young workers the unemployment numbers for Michigan could drop significantly. California is invest 20 million in a program just like what Cory describes.
In the same journal, Valerie Bieberich (pg. 15) lays out the attractiveness and ease of bringing green jobs to the Midwest. The most critical point that Valerie makes is that the Midwest has a strong worker base and resource base for green industries. For states like Michigan the infrastructure already exists and unemployment is high – workers are ready for green jobs! Michigan has already seen two green energy firms start their work in Battle Creek and more recently Holland.
In Detroit, green job training is become more readily available. Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice is an organization pushing the green economy forward with a number of green jobs training and programs focused on making Detroit green.
Wayne County Community College (WCCC) is offering three tiered green jobs training courses in: energy efficiency, weatherizing certification, recycling, and green building certifications. It is an extremely comprehensive program targeting unemployed residents who have at least a high school diploma. This is an excellent example of the type of program needed to reverse the negative growth that Detroiters have seen.