I’m sick and tired of being bombarded with how rotten things are in big cities. Yeah, I know there’s a lot of crime. And youth unemployment, especially in low-income neighborhoods. Pollution. Traffic congestion. It’s a long list but it’s not all bad.
There’s still hope. Some urban areas are tackling youth unemployment AND building sustainable cities at the same time. There are good people and organizations out there bridging the gap between discouragement and optimism.
Rebuilding what’s broken.
Encouraging young people who are often marginalized.
What gives me hope is knowing that there are cities where innovation, collaboration, and a vision of a better future for all of us powers transformation.
Green City Force is an Americorps program that trains unemployed youth from public housing projects in the sustainable energy industry. Kids who would otherwise languish in low paying, low skill jobs spend a service year with Green City Force. What do they work on? Projects like painting rooftops in New York City with reflective paint. About 1.5 million square feet of rooftops! (NYC CoolRoofs campaign).
They built an urban farm on public housing property that grew almost 2 tons of food in its first year of operation. Four more large urban farms followed. And a new park in public housing. The young employees have done thousands of health and safety audits in low-income homes. These audits led to retrofits that saved each resident over $100 a year on their utility bills. And this is just the tip of the “youth unemployment-sustainable cities” iceberg.
What’s the big deal about training out of work young people in green building practices anyway? Simple economics, my friend.
According YouthBuild USA, “green building jobs account for over 55% of the design and construction workforce, with a demand that greatly exceeds the workforce supply.”
Unemployed young people are an often ignored pool of talent and energy. YouthBuild USA programs teach green building construction skills and enable their students to earn industry-recognized credentials. It’s a win-win all around. Graduates get good-paying jobs in the construction industry, breaking the cycle of poverty. And they help build sustainable cities.
OK, now it’s your turn to spread a little good news.
What’s happening in your city?
Do you have programs that address youth unemployment?
What about sustainable cities projects?
Share your community’s story here because we all need to hear about places that combine hope with elbow grease to create change.
We are all stronger and better when we work together. And that’s why we need YOUR butterfly message of hope. Here’s how to become a Contributing Artist.
Bonnie Pond is the founder of the 10,000 Butterflies Project and the international Make Your Life Count Movement. She’s an inspiring speaker and the author of The Power of Three: How to be Happy and Get What You Want in Life (Without Doing Anything Illegal, Immoral, or Unethical) and Unlock Your Creativity: 30 Days to a More Creative YOU! Bonnie is a self-described “Bahooda Kicker” who helps women stop settling for less than they really want in life. Her mission is to motivate women around the world to live their purpose, love their lives, and make them count.