The words ‘Pathways to a Green Career Training Program’ sound empty, and even rendered meaningless by overuse. But the Beloved Community Center (BCC) has infused a new spirit into these words. The following is an email letter BCC staff member Demetria Ledbetter wrote to writer and activist Grace Boggs during BCC’s first week of its Pathways to a Green Career Training Program. This letter begins to get at the depth of the philosophy behind this program.
Grace and Friends,
On Monday, April 5, BCC began its six-week Pathways to a Greener Career Training program for young adults between the ages of eighteen and twenty four. These young adults are either unemployed, underemployed, parents, or have felony/misdemeanor charges. We began preparing for this opportunity when President Obama released the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act in January 2009. We responded to a Request For Proposal last May to develop a green jobs training program that would provide a pathway out of poverty. We were successful in our endeavors, and received a total of two grant cycles to develop the Pathways to a Greener Career curriculum.
Our training program has a job readiness component which also includes: community gardening, weatherization, and Green Entrepreneurship components. Our job readiness component is based on the University of Tennessee at Knoxville’s Equipped For the Future Training (EFF).
The EFF training has several learning models that will be taught in three of the six weeks of this course. One of the EFF standards we worked on this week is ‘Take Responsibility for Learning’. We demonstrated this standard with one of your (Grace’s) weekly stories in In These Times Magazine. Using the “Describe Your Politics” section of 20 Questions with Grace Boggs, we explained how you must seek additional information to complete your tasks. We explained this type of initiative shows employers you take responsibility for learning. So we used your story to demonstrate taking responsibilities. We took the story apart by utilizing root words to assist with understanding the context of your story. The words we used were: injustices, despairing, materialism, militarism, rededicate, and restorative, misspend. The words themselves became a discussion. After the words were deciphered we asked for seven volunteers to read your story.
It was my pleasure to introduce you, Grace, and share information about your husband James. I also mentioned that we celebrate the same birthday – June 27th. You would have been most proud of these young people asking questions and making references to the following in your article: paradigm shift; new world; Zapatistas in Chiapas; Obama; Malcolm X; Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth (“Each generation, coming out of obscurity, must define its mission and fulfill it or betray it.”); Millennial generation; and many more things.
Our conversation was so rich! What did I learn? I learned that our young people with barriers are very bright and they care on multiple levels about multiple things when given an equal opportunity for learning, never to assume that people remember what suffixes and prefixes mean (smile), how powerful this article becomes when eighteen to twenty four-year-olds read it and begin to have ‘ah-ha’ moments.
I hope you know how much we appreciate you in Greensboro. We have several more on cue to discuss with our participants.
Best Regards Grace, Keep sending those articles out and we are most grateful in Greensboro.