In 2 weeks, the Global Exchange Michigan team will embark on our second Green Economy Leadership Training (GELT) program. GELT is a 9 week training program that brings together residents from the community of Detroit & Highland Park together with youth from communities throughout Michigan and the U.S. for technical trainings in the green economy and community organizing.
Since last summer’s bootstrapped project with 5 participants and no funding, our dream has grown from a start-up concept project to a full-fledged program. Now we are anticipating the arrival of 25 young entrepreneurs from all over the country who will descend upon Detroit in 2 and half weeks to kick off the program on June 6th.
When we started out, our concept was simple: create a training program in Detroit on renewable energy, energy efficiency and urban agriculture and directly apply the training to the community in Detroit.
We worked with our long-time ally, Pastor David Bullock, of Greater St. Matthews Church in Highland Park to find vacant property to use as our training grounds. As a majority of Detroit’s once vibrant infrastructure is abandoned and in decay, the decision for where to start was mainly based on how we could most effectively deploy our energy and resources for a deep impact in the green economy. From there a localized training program, combined with direct application of what is taught, became the most logical move.
While most people may look at Detroit and see problems, when you look at the resources needed to build a clean economy, there really is no better place to start than Detroit.
After developing the initial concept and building foundational partnerships we then partnered with Energy Action Coalition and Grand Aspirations to recruit people to come be part of our training program. Low and behold, 10 people showed up to participate when we launched the training. We were ecstatic, but not everyone was able to stay with the program. A few people took jobs for economic needs, and a few others had to move on to other opportunities. But at the end of the summer 5 GELTers stuck it out for the entire program and over 20 people participated in some aspect of the training program.
GELTers received permaculture design certificates, weatherized over 50 homes in Highland Park, built community gardens, and mentored the neighborhood kids. GELT was recognized as a cutting edge organizing strategy that was featured on the Huffington Post and CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 (watch the segment below!) We felt like we were on to something.
Coming out of last summer we knew we were ready to take the program to the next level. In January we bought an apartment building in Highland Park within walking distance of last year’s project and started recruiting people to come to Highland Park to start working with us. Former organizers with the D.C. Project, the Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition and the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network moved into the house. We turned one apartment into an office and we started working full time on pulling together the best green economy training program the world has ever seen.
This summer we are adding trainings on installing solar panels, building economical greenhouses for 4 season urban agriculture, social justice classes and entrepreneurship. Students in GELT will lead projects in the community that apply the technical skills they learn toward tangible business ideas relevant to Detroit, which will start to create economic opportunities and eventually jobs. Students will also be mentored as they start their own project or business during and after the 9 weeks and will be plugged into a long-term support system to push their ideas into reality.
As with any program that is attempting something new and to break down the barriers of traditional activism, we are relying on supporters of all walks of life to lend us a hand as we get our program off the ground this year; this is where you come in.
We are reaching out to our community and network to help us build this program. Right now we are looking to build a full-scale kitchen to cook and feed 40 people this summer for 9 weeks. We put together this wish list to see if you may have resources you can contribute to help us build GELT from the ground up. This list is not comprehensive, if you have items you think would be useful to our program, or would like to arrange an in-kind donation, please contact Sarah Murphy: firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-562-8211
GREEN ECONOMY LEADERSHIP TRAINING WISH LIST
- Shelves for food storage
- Clothes washing machine
- Toasters, Microwaves, Blender / food processor(s)
- Large cooking pots & pans
- Large plastic storage containers (approx 18 gallon capacity)
- Knives for chopping
- Colanders, large mixing bowls, cutting boards, etc.
- Large stirring spoons, tongs, ladles, veggie peelers, can openers
- Plates, bowls, mugs, cups, flatware
- First Aid Kit
- Ice cube trays
- Very large coffee maker
Food & Consumables:
- Toilet paper
- Fresh produce
- Dry food, specifically:
- flour, white & whole wheat
- sugar, honey
- dried beans, lentils
- spices, baking powder AND soda
- pasta, lots of pasta
- nuts, all kinds
- cooking oil (veggie, canola, olive)
- coffee and teas
- canned vegetables and beans
- Hand-dishwashing soap
- Sponges, scrubbies, Dish towels, rags
- Rubber gloves for kitchen food prep
- Bed frames – bunkbeds are ideal
- General cleaning supplies (mops, brooms, soap, bleach, sponges, etc)
- Dressers / drawers / shelves for clothing storage
- Tables for dining
- Soil for raised bed gardens
- Gardening supplies
CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 GELT Segment: