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September 10, 2009

After Van Jones Resigns, His ‘Homeboys’ Keep on ‘Greening the Ghetto’

Posted by : admin
Filed under : Enviornment News

Even in the midst of the health care fight, the Sunday talk shows devoted some time to the political fallout from the resignation of Van Jones, and with his resignation over the weekend, the former White House green jobs czar has become a national object lesson in partisan politicking. But, outside of the American political media vacuum, Jones’ green-jobs-for -the-urban-poor programming will be his lasting legacy.

For example, take this morning’s BBC feature on Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, a part of the British news radio network’s recent series of features on the US economic downturn and its ground-level impacts in California. The BBC focused on some of the funding problems that Homeboy faces in these times of both declining philanthropy and state budgets.

Still, the organization – devoted to reintegrating former LA-area gangbangers by providing everything from job training to tattoo removal – is finding a productive niche in the green-collar economy. Operating under the slogan “nothing stops a bullet like a job,” Homeboy recently began training former gang members as solar panel installers.

Class members in the solar program attend a two-month course – with the $131 tuition and an $8 hourly stipend paid by Homeboys – and graduate with skills that are helping them land jobs that pay from $15 to upwards of $30 an hour. If programs like Homeboy’s can catch on the way that Jones has envisioned, the average political observer some years hence may remember Jones more for the green-collar economic policies that the BBC highlighted rather than as the political cautionary tale that defined his 15 minutes of fame over one Labor Day weekend.

Illustration of Van Jones “greening the ghetto” by RADillustrates at Flickr.

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