Blacks need to be 'green' for the future

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Arlene Jones

Over the years, you've heard the terminology: recycle, alternative forms of energy, organic products, natural, pollution, control and on and on. All those various labels have now been grouped under one name, "green." The "green" industry is the largest and fastest growing movement not just for this country, but for the entire world.

Have you been curious about how you can get involved? Or what does it mean to "green" your home? What about a job in the "green" industry? What and where are those jobs and what kind of skills will you need to get one?

What are all the forms of "green" energy? How can you save money by going "green"? And for young people, what will "green" mean for them as they mature into a world 180 degrees different from the one their parents grew up in.

For the past couple of weeks, I've been attending the meetings to help organize the 2012 Green Festival. Last year the festival was held at McCormick Place. This year it has moved to Navy Pier. It's going to be the largest Earth Day celebration in the city, with over 250 exhibitors. There will be exciting speakers like Van Jones, an African American who is one of the pioneers in the field of clean energy economy as well as being an expert on what and where the green jobs will be.

It is too late for us to get in on the ground floor of Silicon Valley. The computer technology revolution came and many of us are still suffering from the digital divide. However the green revolution is on the ground floor and now is the perfect time for black people to come out and get involved in the wave of the future.

I have written in the past how abandoned factories like the old Brach Candy site can be retrofitted for new jobs in the green market. How come we are not doing urban fish farms and hydroponic gardening of vegetables? As long as people are alive, they will eat. Growing food locally cannot be exported to another country like so many of the jobs that have already gone overseas, never to return.

Why should families attend the Green Festival? Because there is something for everyone there. There will be plenty of food tastings, a special zone for the children, workshops and inspiring speakers.

The Green Festival is also looking for volunteers - especially our high school age children who still need to get in their volunteer credit hours. To learn more about the festival or to volunteer for it, visit the website at greenfestivals.org/volunteers. If you're interested in exhibiting, call 828-333-9403 ext. 300. The organizers are expecting 50,000 people to visit over the two-day event. Let's make sure the West Side is represented so we can learn what we can do to better our lives, gain employment and get in on the ground floor of this fast-paced movement.

The festival will be held May 5-6, 2012. The hours are Saturday from noon until 8 p.m. On Sunday the hours are 11 a.m. till 7 p.m. If you bike to the festival, admission is free. If you bring a bunch of young people under 18, their admission is free. Adult admission is a mere $10.

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