The Green New Deal: creating the care infrastructure for a just transition

Opinion blog post from Rachel Slocum, co-facilitator of our Green New Deal Team

Life after a Green New Deal would be a world of free healthcare and childcare, cheap and beautiful public housing, first-class public transport infrastructure, well-funded arts programs and ample leisure time.” Clare Hymer, Novara Media

The Green New Deal: creating the care infrastructure for a just transition

What do Medicare for All, universal child care, child care subsidies for low income households (HB 2348) and paid family and medical leave (HB 2005-3) have to do with climate policy? They represent parts of the ‘care infrastructure’ we need to allow people to live with dignity now, survive climate change tomorrow, and fully decarbonize our society over the next ten years.

As the Pacific NW climate movement takes aim at fossil fuel projects, many advocate a just transition for workers who would no longer build LNG plants and pipelines, but instead would install solar panels or build high speed rail lines. But being able to build green infrastructure requires a scaffold of care: someone to take care of the kids while you’re at work, the time off you need to help your father, health care you can afford.

That scaffold is largely missing in the US. Among OECD countries, the US is second to last, just ahead of Turkey, in public spending specifically aimed to benefit families and children. Consequently, in the US, the net child care costs of a couple earning minimum wage amount to 65% of household income. For a lone parent, it’s much worse.  

In the home, US women do the majority of care giving and housekeeping tasks. With paid labor, household labor, and emotional labor, women do a triple shift. Across society, the absence of a care infrastructure weighs disproportionately on women, indigenous, Black, and people of color.  Indeed, the failure to dedicate spending toward family benefits in this country sends younger, lower income households with children toward poverty.

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A 350er Goes Canvassing!

On Sunday I spent some time canvassing for PCEI – The Portland Clean Energy Initiative. Confession–I did it because Anissa, who is staffing this for 350PDX, nagged me and all the other Board members until we said yes.

But I’m telling you about it because I enjoyed it SO much that I want to give you the opportunity to enjoy yourselves too!

I’m not kidding.

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Portland Clean Energy Initiative September Update

“The Portland Clean Energy Initiative is the most important ballot measure in the country right now.” – Van Jones.

Don’t take it from us, take it from national green energy leader, activist, and author Van Jones, who spoke at an event in Portland last week in front of hundreds of people and couldn’t stop raving about our work on the Portland Clean Energy Initiative, Measure 26-201.

Why? Because this measure offers an opportunity to say YES amidst a sea of bad policies that we fight on a daily basis. YES to local climate action. YES to billionaire retail corporations paying their fair share toward a clean energy future. YES to job training in the renewable energy field. YES to green infrastructure such as cooling tree canopies, local sustainable food and innovative projects that reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. YES to solutions coming straight from our communities. YES to Measure 26-201!

Today is 49 days until Election Day, and 29 days until ballots begin to hit mailboxes. Here’s your weekly campaign update on how to get involved with this historic initiative.

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Press Release: Portland Clean Energy Fund Brings in Over 60,000 Signatures

Reverend E.D. Mondainé, President of the NAACP Portland Branch and a Chief Petitioner of the Portland Clean Energy Fund

Contact: Damon Motz-Storey 303.913.5634

(PORTLAND, OR) – The broad network of groups backing the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Initiative, known as the “Portland Clean Energy Fund,” held a press conference today outside Portland City Hall to announce they had collected over 60,000 signatures for the initiative in under two months. With support from hundreds of volunteers, the Portland Clean Energy Fund collected 25,000 more signatures than needed to qualify for the November election. The large number of signatures gathered exceeded the campaign’s goals and reflects the strong level of support for the Portland Clean Energy Fund at a time when measures to promote renewable energy are being rolled back at the federal level. Read more

Getting the Portland Clean Energy Fund on the November 2018 Ballot

In the absence of meaningful action at the federal level, numerous state and local communities are stepping up to the plate to address climate change. The Portland Clean Energy Fund is one example of this important work. The Portland Clean Energy Fund ballot initiative is currently in the signature gathering phase to make the November 2018 ballot.  What would this fund do and how would it be funded? Read more

Portland Ballot Initiative Officially Filed!

The Portland ballot measure you’ve heard so much about has officially been filed!

350PDX and our partners have been working for over two years on a Portland Ballot Initiative to promote green jobs and homes that internally has been known as PJET (Portland Just Energy Transition). We are pleased to be working alongside Portland’s NAACP chapter, Verde, the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), APANO, and Oregon Sierra Club. As of late January, the Initiative has been filed with the city and the official ballot title will be confirmed by early March!

Press here for the complete Initiative Read more

Portland Just Energy Transition Initiative – Climate Justice on the Ballot

When I was growing up in a beautiful but drafty wooden A-frame farmhouse, the way my parents kept our heating bills low was simple, if unpleasant; in the winter months, the living room and dining room became dispensable. Those rooms had arched entry ways instead of doors, so we stapled thick plastic sheets over those open spaces. By abandoning these rooms, we kept the heat from our floor furnace trapped in the kitchen and the two bedrooms adjacent to it. For maybe four months of the year, we lived in half our house. Sometimes I would wriggle around the edge of the semi-opaque plastic to sneak a visit to the once familiar, now alien landscape of the living room, where I could watch my breath form frosty puffs. I am sure my parents would have preferred to insulate the house better, but there was no cash for it. Next to the challenges of keeping us fed and housed during a recession and through their low-pay, early career years, my parents could not afford the strain – financial as well as emotional – of taking other steps to be more energy efficient.

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Confronting the Whiteness of Environmentalism

People’s Climate March 2017

Climate justice means hard work.

It’s tempting to assign labels or catchphrases to movements. The concept of climate justice or environmental justice has gained massive traction in organizing groups, but as easy as it is to put “climate justice” on a banner, it’s even easier to lose sight of what it really means.

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Centering Frontline Communities in Portland’s Climate Movement

In previous years, environmental groups and social justice groups have operated independently. This has been to our detriment. We know from the many successes of coalition-building that we are stronger when we work together to achieve our goals. Together, we can achieve ecological justice, where our knowledge of how we manage community resources is applied to achieving environmental, economic, racial, and social justice.

This year, the frontline communities of the Oregon Just Transition Alliance (OJTA) are taking a central, leading role in the Portland People’s Climate Movement (PCM). We’re joining in solidarity, led by those who are most impacted by ecological injustice, to advance the Portland PCM Platform.

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The Roots and Shoots of Just Transition

JustTransition-610x390From 1974-1991 I worked on assembly lines at General Electric Appliance Park in Louisville, Kentucky. I hired in right at the end of the post WWII economic boom. In 1974 there were over 24,000 people working at Appliance Park. By 1991 that number had shrunk to about 6,000. Like many at the low end of the seniority list, I had a wild ride in and out of GE due to business cycle boom and bust, robots, outsourcing, and production shifts from one GE factory to another.

The last time I was called back from a layoff, I worked on a refrigerator compressor line, testing for leaks before they filled the system with Freon. This was in the late 1980s while the Montreal Protocol to Protect the Ozone Layer was being negotiated. Of course, Freon, an efficient and safe-to-handle refrigerant, was also the most prominent ozone-depleting chemical. It was disorienting to know this and to experience the nearly total silence on the issue at work. Once it was clear that Freon had to be replaced, GE claimed it had to redesign certain components and retool some of the manufacturing process. The company challenged the union to meet or beat what it would cost to make those parts somewhere else. The union kept the work but with a plan that used fewer workers. By that time, I had moved on to the washer/dryer building, been laid off yet again, moved back to Massachusetts where I grew up, and gone back to school. Read more