Millions of new jobs. An inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty. Dignity. The ability to support one’s family. All done in an environmentally friendly way.
A worker owned cooperative that salvages building materials.
Efficiency audits for homeowners and small businesses.
Horticultural and permaculture companies creating local food from dilapidated landscapes in inner cities.
Many of us know the story of Green For All. It’s a beautiful congruence of old school environmentalism, sustainable economic development, and social justice. It’s one of the great feel-good stories of the new economy. But then Van Jones was badgered out of Washington by right wing nut-jobs because of some supposedly over-exuberant activism in his past.
So where is Green For All now? Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins spoke to the Green Business Conference about their vision for the future. Ellis-Lamkins spoke to the $1 trillion dollars the federal government is spending that they have had the opportunity to influence. When they first discussed the stimulus package and the environmental issues that President Obama wanted to address, they looked around the room and saw that the congressional black caucus and the congressional hispanic caucus and the NAACP were not present. When they asked why, they were told that the environment wasn’t those groups’ interest. It was an eye opening moment.
Green For All then approached those groups to bring them into the discussion, and as they expected, those groups did care, but looked at it from a different angle. It was about sustainable jobs, lifting people out of poverty, and providing opportunities in the new green economy.
They were able to keep the congressional black caucus from walking out on the bill by including two provisions in the bill that were very important to that group.
Another major learning Ellis-Lamkins noted during the process of getting collaboration on the stimulus bill was to see how well organized the agriculture community was. She felt, if only the green business community could be half as organized as the big business agriculture community was, we would be unstoppable.
So what’s in the future for Green For All? They are looking at creating revolving loan funds. For example, people weatherizing their homes would be able to take a loan out to do the upfront investment. Through their lower utility bills, they would then pay back the loan over time.
They are also looking at leveraging stimulus money to help people create businesses through their Capital Access Program. They will be providing coaching resources to green entrepreneurs in inner cities that have at least 1 year of operating experience.
Scott Cooney is the author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and is reporting live from day 2 of the Green America Green Business Conference.