Testifiers speak in support of the Young Leaders Green Pathways resolution, which was passed by the Seattle City Council on October 3, 2016. • Courtesy Photos
Testifiers speak in support of the Young Leaders Green Pathways resolution, which was passed by the Seattle City Council on October 3, 2016. • Courtesy Photos

On Monday, October 3, Seattle City Council unanimously passed the “Green Pathways” resolution proposed by Got Green to help recruit young people of color in green careers and build better access to resources like internships, apprenticeships, and job training programs. Green careers include jobs working in the areas of green energy, urban farming, and waste reduction.

Younger generations are faced with the responsibility to help save communities from the dangerous impacts of climate change and contribute to a big part of the solution. Organizations like Got Green are led by young leaders who are driven by their passion to bring awareness to environmental changes. Got Green has been working to provide more opportunities for young people to learn skills that can lead to greater jobs in the growing environmental sector. Environmental advocacy can open up more jobs and internships for people of color who are striving to find job experience.

“Even while struggling to make it, young people have environmental values and want to make a difference. Our city has an obligation to make sure this potential does not go to waste,” said Mo Avery, program organizer for the Young Leaders in the Green Movement.

There are many internships and opportunities for students to gain enough experience to increase their chances of acquiring entry-level jobs. However, many of these internships are unpaid and only an option for those with access to other means of financial support. Because of the need to support themselves, people from underrepresented groups and working-class families are the ones left struggling to find paid jobs that will enhance their chances of getting advanced careers.

The resolution outlined $150,000 in support of recruiting, retaining, and fostering low income young adults of color in green careers. Ultimately, the goal is to close the racial gap in the Seattle’s green jobs.

The legislation is primarily for people from underrepresented groups, particularly youth and millennials of color who have difficulty seeking a paid internship because they cannot afford an unpaid internship or a post-secondary education due to financial barriers. The resolution was co-sponsored by councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Mike O’Brien.

Councilmember O’Brien described a green job as one that “preserves or enhances environmental health as well as the economic and social well-being of people and communities, centers on communities most negatively impacted by climate change, and pays a living wage while providing career pathways.”

Green Pathways preserves environmental health, aims to improve the city socioeconomically, and centers on communities affected by environmental dangers. The resolution supports sustainable entrepreneurship not just throughout the city but throughout the region.

Green Pathways stemmed from Got Green’s concern for people of color who are disproportionately affected by environmental dangers and how they have limited access to paid internships and careers that may help uplift them and their community from such dangers. People of color find it difficult to progress in careers related to the environment.

“13 out of 14 of the heaviest industrial polluters in Seattle are within half a mile of the places where communities of color live,” said Councilmember Herbold. “The jobs intended to fix that environmental degradation are most important to our world, but often pay the least.”

O’Brien said ethnic minorities are concentrated in the lower ranks with less than 12% holding leadership positions in green careers. Many people from low-income and immigrant families do not have the financial support to be able to take unpaid internships that will provide them with professional experience.

Council President Bruce Harrell said: “In order for a pathway to be constructed, you need to fight. It takes energy.”

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