Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Good Jobs, Green Jobs – An opportunity for Sacred Activism

Going to your average conference is hardly a spiritual experience. Sure, it’s a great opportunity to meet and network with people in your field, travel to a different city, and even learn a thing or two. But there’s often a gap between the stuff that gets talked about at workshops and speeches and the work that happens on the ground. I also find an absence of soul, time for inner reflection, and spiritual grounding that is necessary for building a successful movement. The upcoming Good Jobs Green Jobs conference in Washington D.C. will be very different. The Green Collar movement, with its values of inclusion and equity, has its roots in the struggle for civil rights and economic justice. The spirit of this struggle, launched in the churches of the South, must infuse our current movement to create an ethos of what Andrew Harvey has dubbed Sacred Activism - “when the deepest and most grounded spiritual vision is married to a practical and pragmatic drive to transform all existing political, economic, and social institutions, a holy force - the power of wisdom and love in action - is born.”

We can’t green America without greening our souls first. The scale of the challenge and opportunity before us for a complete transformation of our economy and society requires so much effort that activists are constantly on the brink of exhaustion. We need to continuously replenish our physical and spiritual energy stockpiles so that this movement doesn’t fizzle out. But since there’s little chance for time off to attend spiritual retreats, we need to integrate a Sacred Activism into our work that will nourish our souls and advance the movement at the same time. To achieve this we need to reawaken the houses of worship and people of faith that once marched on the front lines of social movements to retake their rightful place as leaders in the Green Collar movement along with environmentalists, labor groups, and government. I and other FUSE staff will be attending the conference with this goal in mind. In addition to learning and sharing with the nation’s leading experts on the green collar economy, we will visit with our congressional representatives to deliver the message of economic justice and inclusion as a moral imperative backed by the support of millions of constituents from faith communities throughout the nation. We need our leaders to act boldly with a moral compass pointing toward an equitable future. The time is here. Green Jobs Now!

A Green New Year’s ReSolution for Miami

I walked through the courtyard at my office building yesterday and noticed a line of people pouring out the door of the employment agency located there. Older folks, college students, all anxiously abuzz, speaking in the familiar languages of Miami – Spanish, French Creole, and even a little English. I overheard a conversation as I walked into the building - “you think they’ll have something for us this week?” a man asked. “Who knows,” his friend replied, “I don’t even know why we wait in this line. Even when we do get work from here, it pays crap and only lasts a few weeks.” As I got in the elevator I couldn’t get that scene out of my head. Never had the need for green jobs hit so close than at that moment. Even though Miami is one of the most vulnerable cities in the world when it comes to climate induced sea level rise, what gets people up and mobilized is the need to put food on the table. There, in the heart of Little Havana, where most of the jobs are at the countless small restaurants, cigar shops, and grocery stores, I got a glimpse of what’s going on everywhere – people are stressed, the economy is in a tailspin, and the planet is on fire.

I walked into my office and looked up at the green hard hats decorating our bookshelf. “I’m Ready” reads the sticker on the front of each hat. “We sure are,” I thought to myself. And we’ve got a lot of work to do if we’re serious about creating millions of green collar jobs. We need a new New Deal, a bailout for the people, and its got to be green and inclusive. Most importantly, it must work! Now, every single one of us has a part to play in this. We need a society-wide mobilization of people all over this country demanding green jobs – from unions and teachers, to priests and businesses, we all have a chance to make good on the ticket for change that was voted in to the White House just over two months ago.

We here at Faiths United for Sustainable Energy (FUSE) will be doing our part by visiting with communities of faith all throughout the State of Florida to help people learn about the connections between their faith, the environment, and social justice. We’ll be building grassroots support for green collar jobs, renewable energy, and a new, green, sustainable way of life through picture petitions, constituent visits with legislators, media, and public rallies and events. We will also be building alliances with other organizations and individuals who are committed to making a Green Collar Jobs a reality throughout the State of Florida. So if you’re in Florida and want to help build the green collar movement, get in touch with us and we’ll plug you in.