The Green-Collar Jobs Campaign Teaching Toolbox

Lesson Plans from the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
Logo of the Ella Baker Center Green Collar Jobs Campaign

The Green-Collar Jobs Campaign Teaching Tools offers a five-part series of lesson plans designed for use in high school classrooms.

Ranging from one to three class periods in length, these interactive activities explore key themes surrounding Green-Collar Jobs Campaign's work, including: the green economy, eco-equity and eco-privilege, model cities, and restorative justice.

We've identified compelling YES! articles to support teaching with these activities and help your students go deeper with the issues raised.

INTRODUCE THE LESSONS: with this 2 minute video of Van Jones on Eco-Equity

:: Teacher Guide complete with all five activities, hand-outs and additional remarks
:: Green-Collar Jobs Campaign Glossary of Terms
:: Tools are aligned with California's Content Standards

:: The Green Wave and My Community
:: Exploring Eco-Privilege
:: Green Jobs, Not Jails
:: Model Cities and You
:: Finding the Solutions

YES number1

The Green Wave and My Community

Photo of Van Jones

The blossoming green economy (which includes things like hybrid cars, wind turbines, green buildings, and solar panels) is impacting communities across the U.S.

In this activity, students explore the meaning of "green," learn about the green economy, and then team up to investigate how the Green Wave is (or isn't) impacting their city.

DOWNLOAD ACTIVITY: The Green Wave and My Community

Green Jobs for All
People left out of the fossil fuel economy stand tall in the green economy.
By Ian Kim. YES! Magazine #45 :: Climate Solutions

Green-Collar Jobs for Urban America
A green-collar job involves environment-friendly products or services. Construction work on a green building, organic farming, solar panel manufacturing, bicycle repair: all are green jobs. The green-collar economy is big money, and it's booming. Including renewable energy and clean technology, green is the fifth largest market sector in the United States.
By Van Jones and Ben Wyskida. YES! Magazine #40 :: Go Local!

Local Energy, Local Power
Native peoples have an eye to the horizon, where wind turbines, solar panels, and a movement for local control of energy are rising.
By Winona LaDuke. YES! Magazine #40 :: Go Local!

YES number2

Exploring Eco-Privilege

Photo of Eco-Equity sign, image courtesy of the Ella Baker Center

Thanks to the growing green economy, many people now have access to products and services for sustainable lifestyles. But many more do not. And often, those who enjoy such access do not realize that it is a privilege—a privilege denied to many others across the country.

In this activity, students use a self-assessment tool to examine if, and in what areas, they benefit from eco-privilege.

DOWNLOAD ACTIVITY: Exploring Eco-Privilege

Danny Glover—An Interview
It's important for people of color to link up with issues around globalization, food security, health, the environment. It's also important for those who promote those issues within the white community—the somewhat privileged community—to talk about issues affecting people of color.
By Sarah van Gelder. YES! Magazine #17 :: Working for Life

Just, Green & Beautiful Cities
The movement toward just, livable cities—the regional equity movement—is working to recapture some of this lost vibrancy, envisioning a new pattern of development that incorporates all the ecological ideas to grow a more equitable society.
By Carl Anthony. YES! Magazine #34 :: What Makes a Great Place?

White on Black, Black on White
Hear two participants in a gathering about social change describe their feelings about talking about race, privilege, and how we can move forward together.
By Carol Estes and Robert Jeffrey. YES! Magazine #15 :: Is it Time to Close the Prisons?

YES number3

Green Jobs, Not Jails!

Image of a prison cell by Giovanni Banfi / I-S

"Green Jobs, Not Jails" is the strategic concept underlying Green-Collar Jobs Campaign. It stands for the principle that zero pollution, living wage jobs—not more police and prisons—provide the most logical, humane and cost-effective pathway to safe, healthy and peaceful cities. Two powerful concepts are at the heart of this approach: restorative justice and restorative economics.

In this activity, students examine their personal experiences with the dominant justice and economic systems in their communities. After exploring the concepts of restorative economics and restorative justice in depth, they investigate the strategic concept of Green Jobs, Not Jails.

DOWNLOAD ACTIVITY: Green Jobs, Not Jails!

American Gulag
Why does the "home of the free" lock up 2 million men, women, boys, and girls—most of them people of color?
By Jerome G. Mille. YES! Magazine #15 :: Is it Time to Close the Prisons?

Navajo Justice
The Navajo Nation quit jailing people for dozens of offenses that used to land people behind bars. Now tribal courts are turning to peacemakers.
By The Honorable Robert Yazzie Chief Justice of the Navajo Nation. YES! Magazine #15 :: Is it Time to Close the Prisons?

Guantanamo on the Mississippi
Katrina makes New Orleans justice even harsher. Jordan Flaherty talks with those who experience the correction system on both sides of the fence.
By Jordan Flaherty. YES! Online :: Post Katrina

YES number4

Model Cities and You

Photo by Andy Wright.
Photo by Andy Wright.

Creating cities that work for people and with nature is a challenge being taken on by communities all over the world. Cities from Curitiba, Brazil to Oakland, California are trying to become "Model Green Cities"—cities designed for both environmental and social health.

In this activity, students divide into small groups. Each is assigned a "green city" that is taking a lead in environmental and social sustainability. After researching the characteristics and accomplishments of this city, each group makes a class presentation.

DOWNLOAD ACTIVITY: Model Cities and You

Curitiba: Story of a City
To learn from Curitiba, the rest of the world would have to break some long-standing habits. And the hardest habit to break, in fact, may be what Lerner calls the "syndrome of tragedy, of feeling like we're terminal patients."
By Bill McKibben. YES! Magazine #10 :: Cities of Exuberance

Diverse, Green, Beautiful Cities: an interview with Carl Anthony
A multi-cultural coalition can lead the way to greener and more vibrant cities that work for all residents, says Carl Anthony in this interview with YES! executive editor, Sarah van Gelder
By Sarah van Gelder. YES! Magazine #10 :: Cities of Exuberance

Resurrect New Orleans: A Better City Is Possible
They want to set a bold agenda for reconstruction, ensuring that the new New Orleans is resurrected, not as a corporate theme park but as a thriving eco-city—designed in accordance with the best ecological thinking and built largely by local labor.
By Van Jones. YES! Online :: Post Katrina

The New City Beautiful
It can happen in your town: Streetscapes blooming with wildflowers, industrial waterfronts transformed into parks, and creeks once again dancing with salmon. A green urban renaissance is growing.
By Francesca Lyman. YES! Magazine #34 :: What Makes a Great Place?

It Took a Village
In Miami, homeless citizens didn’t wait for the city. They created their own home and found dignity and safety.
By Heather Mueller. YES! Magazine #44 :: Liberate Your Space

Mayors Stand Up
In the vacuum left by federal inaction on climate change, social movements have launched in unexpected places—including city hall.
By Madeline Ostrander. YES! Magazine #45 :: Climate Solutions

YES number5

Finding the Solutions

Image of Youth at Power Shift, Photo by Shadia Wood

Though we are often assaulted by negative images and stories that make it appear otherwise, people in urban environments all over the world are taking a stand for both healthy ecosystems and healthy communities. A new politics is being born—a Politics of Solution that emphasizes multi-issue, solution-oriented change in urban communities.

In this activity, students learn about accomplishments in the areas of sustainability and social justice happening both locally and globally.

DOWNLOAD ACTIVITY: Finding the Solutions

Two Crises, One Solution
Van Jones believes there is a better future for young people than prisons and there is a better future for the Earth than ecological collapse. The solutions for the two may be the same.
By Van Jones. YES! Magazine #34 :: What Makes a Great Place?

Mother Nature's School of Design
I believe that as Native people, we are the land and the land is us. Those of us in the environmental justice movement have started to educate the larger environmental movement that our work protecting the environment is spiritual work.
By Tom Goldtooth. YES! Magazine #19 :: Technology: Who Chooses?

In the Native Way
In Miami, homeless citizens didn’t wait for the city. They created their own home and found dignity and safety.
By Heather Mueller. YES! Magazine #20 :: Can Love Save the World?

Seeds of Justice, Seeds of Hope
In the midst of the toxic atmosphere of Watts, seeds are sprouting, organic gardens are thriving, young people are discovering a vocation, and healthy, whole foods are becoming part of everyday life.
By Anna Marie Carter. YES! Magazine #25 :: Our Planet, Our Selves

The Hour Before the Dawn
Hope, says Professor David W. Orr, is not the same as wishful thinking. Hope recognizes hard realities, like the difficulty of inventing a new energy future, but chooses to act anyway. Here are 10 reasons to be hopeful.
By David W. Orr. YES! Magazine #31 :: Can We Live Without Oil?

Youth Feel the Power
Youth are tired of living in a broken system built on the back of racism. And we are ready for this opportunity to change the systems to actually serve the people—all people.
By Shadia Fayne Wood. YES! Magazine #45 :: Climate Solutions

Ella Baker Center logo

Activity Design by Lea Endres, Green-Collar Job Campaign Education Director. Reprinted with kind permission from the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.

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