This past weekend, the largest day of climate action in history, united tens of thousands of people all across the planet in “getting to work”.
People came together in communities across the world to make neighborhoods more efficient, grow food, install renewable energy, plant trees, create bike transit teams, and so much more. In the face of political inaction, a global economy that seems hesitant to go green or to recover, and a climate clock whose ticking is ever more audible in Pakistan’s floods and Russian fires, these people from all across the planet are getting to work and telling the world to do the same.
It’s a start.
Building a green economy is the work of a lifetime. We will not reinvent the electrical grid, rebuild our cities and their transit infrastructure, or renew our food system overnight. Rather than removing urgency, this long time horizon should heighten it while making our movement more thoughtful and strategic. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. Now is the absolute latest that we can get started, but it will be a long haul.
How will our generation survive this marathon race to a society that can sustain itself? The job market is slowly slipping, and our generation is the most unemployed, particularly for young people from low-income and minority backgrounds. The economic foundations on which young people have long relied to pay the bills, or drifted back to after the bright-eyed aspirations of youth fade from us are themselves fading. As a generation, we are increasingly finding ourselves with our backs to a wall in an uncertain world.
Its time to get to work.
We need to start growing the green economy so that it can sustain us and others around us. We need to demonstrate through our work that this whole big dream of sustainable communities and green jobs is more than a bunch of talk. We need to rally our communities around a vision that they can see and feel and touch – that is visibly a win-win-win for the planet and the economy and the person down the street or across the world. It’s time to start competing with the dirty energy companies and the highway networks and the food giants to provide better alternatives to meet the basic needs of people from all backgrounds while rebuilding community, revitalizing local economies, and creating a future for ourselves. It’s time to forge new alliances that dream a better future AND create it, transforming the balance of power politically, economically, culturally, and technologically. With that, I have an invitation to one great way to get to work doing those world-changing in conjunction with other cool people doing the same:
Over the past few years, I’ve had the honor of being a part of building an emerging community of leaders who are getting to work by growing the green economy. Since 2008, Grand Aspirations has grown rapidly, supporting youth leaders and partner organizations in running Summer of Solutions programs across the country and sustaining and replicating the innovative strategies they develop throughout the year. These young people are helping communities employ people to farm in urban food deserts, launched community-energy projects, started green industry centers, helped whole neighborhoods work together to find positive ways to cut carbon emissions, and opened access to green jobs and sustainable transit. Several of us met in August to share lessons learned figure out next steps. We know that there is a lot more great work going on out there – we keep hearing about new solutionary ventures across the country and around the world. We’d love to get to work together, because it will take all of us.
So now, we’re inviting youth leaders (14-30) from all walks of life, backgrounds, and organizational affiliations to create and lead a Summer of Solutions program in 2011. These programs focus on making transformative change in close partnership with local communities while creating the sustainable community development models that create jobs and a future for youth leaders and their communities.
Telling us that you want to be a part of it is simple. Find at least one partner-in-solutions and fill out the application! Priority deadline is October 24th at midnight.
To get a better understanding of what the Summer of Solutions means and what great work we are trying to achieve together, you can check out the guidelines for a program here. While we’ll provide plenty of support, outside these guidelines the shape and format is pretty much up to you! We’re bottom-up, and while we have some cool insights and resources to help you create the green economy solutions most relevant for your context, we need the genius, passion, and dedication from all the solutionaries out there to create the green economy.
However you decide to do it: get to work.