Sunday, March 01, 2009

Remember the Freedom Fighters: A Word of Caution for the Green Jobs Movement

by Colette Cosner

Money is on everyone's mind. The recession hangs over every Power Shift '09 session, either as the elephant in the room or the discussion's focal point. Elandria Williams' message inspired deep reflection on this omnipresent theme. During a panel discussion on climate change and the economy, Williams, of the Highlander Research and Education Center, implored a packed room of mostly white young activists to remember the freedom fighters of the Civil Rights Movement.

"These were poor, unemployed folks who were in the streets, and getting their faces beaten in, not because they were getting paid, but because it was the right thing to do," Williams stated.

Her advice shed light on the opportunity many see in the current financial crisis, but she also cautioned against compromising our values for the sake of expediency. Williams warned of the non-profit industrial complex, in which progressive radicals are forced to see their agendas through a capitalist framework.

Williams stressed local living economies and community-based economics as a framework for insuring our solidarity, not false charity, with marginalized communities. We have to remember that greenwashing is not just about disingenuous products but also about disingenuous people.

That said, I just came from Power Shift's 12,000 person hugathon, so I'm not too worried about us forgetting where our hearts are.

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At 8:22 PM, Anonymous loren said...


Thank you for these insightful observations and commentary. I have learned a lot about this movement and the leadership of youth. Hope to hear from you on other issues at YES.



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