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SEEING GREEN: NEW JOBS LEAD TO NEW VISIONS

Seeing green: new jobs lead to new visionsGreen jobs appear to be offering people from different walks of life hope

of a fruitful career at a time when there is not much positive employment

news around, this can only be a good thing.By Hashim Rahman - via CityLimitsParticipants in workforce training programs for green jobs attain a

different understanding of their community -- and their place in it.Shawn H. Mungin did not really know what green-collar meant when he decided

to turn his life around. After serving a six-year prison sentence, he felt

distant from the ever-evolving culture, and had no reason to think he would

be a part of anything called the green economy. That all changed one night

last winter at the Henry Street Settlement House on Manhattan’s Lower East

Side, where a guest speaker inspired him to embark on a new journey.Mungin, 33, had been seeking a way to recover his pride and the respect of

his family. He also sensed a need to connect with something larger than

himself – something that would allow him to make a positive contribution to

society. The transformative speaker came from an organization that provides

workforce training to people with significant employment barriers – and

that training, of late, has become focused on green-collar employment. The

speaker, Emmanuel Pacheco, a program coordinator from Strive in East

Harlem, left Mungin feeling that a career in green construction offered a

chance to change himself while, in some way, changing the world.At about the same time, East Harlem resident Shaunteé Linnen was looking

for a way to push her life out of second gear. She was also seeking

direction and new challenges. But unlike Mungin, she has been green-minded

for most of her life. Linnen, 29, became fascinated with science as a high

school student at the Academy of Environmental Science in East Harlem,

learning about plant stewardship and attending environmental programs at

the United Nations.Yet Linnen’s interest in the environment remained disconnected from

professional aspirations. She was skeptical about whether her passion for

the environment could create a practical pathway to a better life. Her

participation in Strive’s green construction program, where she met and

became friends with Mungin, changed that outlook completely.Thus far, they have spent seven weeks gaining job readiness skills while

learning about weatherization, asbestos abatement, LEED certification,

energy efficiency, photovoltaics, and many other concepts that are intended

to furnish a well-rounded understanding of the green construction industry.Mungin, Linnen, and several other students attended a press conference last

month where the EPA announced that it would be contributing $200,000 to

Strive in a competitive grant that is aimed to assist brownfield

remediation workforce development programs in low-income areas. George

Pavlou, the acting administrator for EPA Region 2, said that “when you talk

about the environment, it’s not just about the world, but neighborhoods as

well.” He said the EPA’s grant is not an isolated gesture, as stimulus

funding should soon provide millions of dollars to strengthen

community-based workforce training programs oriented to green-collar jobs.EPA acting regional director George Pavlou and EPA spokeswoman Elizabeth

Totman, pictured with aspiring students, came to Strive’s East Harlem

office to present the organization with a $200K grant.Building Green ConsciousnessStudents in similar workforce training programs – at Sustainable South

Bronx in Hunts Point and St. Nicks in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for instance

– typically come from many low-income neighborhoods scattered throughout

the five boroughs. Quite often, these areas – whether located in the Bronx,

Queens, or Manhattan – are disproportionately saturated with industry and

its accompanying pollutants, which include waste treatment facilities, MTA

bus depots, and unused contaminated land. The high