Jan 24, 2011

Repurposing Resources, Repurposing People: Why Osborne Went Green

At last Wednesday's Reentry Roundtable at The Community Service Society, John Valverde, told an audience of community advocates, law enforcement, and formerly incarcerated individuals why the Osborne Association decided to "go green" by beginning its Green Career Center one year ago. The Center's Director, Mr. Valverde,  said that it was no coincidence that the neighborhoods most impacted by pollution-borne illness and incarceration are one of the same.These are the neighborhoods, like the South Bronx where the Green Career Center is located, that have  historically been targeted for environmentally destructive land uses and burdened by unjust criminal justice policies. Civil Rights, he expressed, and environmental justice go hand and hand.

The Green Career Center represents how formerly incarcerated individuals can become "part of the solution."  Mr. Valverde passionately noted that, "If we don't include the most oppressed communities, those most impacted by environmental injustice, the Green Movement will fair. We will have left the poor and most impacted behind."  With this philosophy, Osborne's Green Center seeks to create leaders in a green economy that happen to be formerly incarcerated as well.  "If resources can be repurposed," he  said, "so can people's lives."

The Green Career Center offers a 6 week long training program that offers two weeks of soft training skills and four weeks of hard skills (including weatherization, green construction, and math and science, among others). Participants are also trained on environmental literacy and environmental justice.Assistance with job placement follows the formal curriculum.   For more information on Osborne's Green Career Center, click here.