Thursday, October 14, 2010

Making Green Work for Our Communities

NeighborWorks Community Building and Organizing Gulf Coast Partners and Residents Unite to Talk 'Green'

More than 70 Gulf Coast resident leaders, activists, volunteers and community leaders from Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana convened in Biloxi, Mississippi recently to talk green.

The purpose of the two-day workshop, led by NeighborWorks' Community Building and Organizing Programs (CB&O), was to connect community members with one another and share information on how to tap economic development opportunities from an emerging green economy.

“After the BP oil spill, communities along the Gulf Coast have been hungry for knowledge sharing and coalition-building to explore alternative livelihoods in the green industry," said CB&O Director Susan Naimark. "We learned that the various groups most impacted by the oil spill – particularly the Vietnamese, Native American and African-American communities – were not connecting with each other. We were thrilled and honored that NeighborWorks America could play a convening role to fill this void,” Naimark added.

CB&O Senior Program Associate Bernadette Orr, who organized the workshop, emphasized that community building and organizing is a critical component not only in building communities, but for maximizing on opportunities in a green economy.

“Community building relies on empowering residents to define what green is for their communities, and helps galvanize their energy, talents and abilities to create workable solutions,” said Orr. “Community-building and organizing helps change the hearts and minds of people by empowering them to become involved in not only defining the problem, but creating the solutions.”

Continue reading to learn how residents were inspired, energized and determined to take action.