North Side Rising wants Milwaukeeans in green jobs

North Side Rising wants Milwaukeeans in green jobs

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This is part two of a story about Milwaukee’s history with deindustrialization and how it impacts marginalized communities.

When people think of solutions to climate change, they might think of solar panels, rooftop gardens and energy efficient light bulbs. Some technology, like wind turbines, requires skilled labor for installation.

North Side Rising’s Civic Engagement Organizer Dana Kelley says the mission of the organization is to help people of color, LGBTQ people and those of lower income get in on the green wave as part of their New Green Deal.

“Governors have pledged by 2050 that we would be 100% or zero emission,” says Kelley. “Are we there yet? No. We don’t have a plan in place to do any of those things.”

North Side Rising participants display a “Keep The Lights On” banner | Photo courtesy Dana Kelley

Certification for jobs in green technology can take as little as six months, which can be beneficial for people who are looking to get in sooner rather than later.

“When they talk about being a solar panel installer or wind turbine manufacturer, that sounds like you’ve got to go to school,” Kelley says. “Well, we’re in survival mode. We want some stuff that we can touch and taste and feel right now.”

Kelley also wants marginalized people to get in on green technology like heating and ventilation because climate change is impacting everyone.

“In communities of color, a lot of us suffer from asthma, COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], emphysema, things like that,” says Kelley. “All of these things are considered green sector jobs but right now, the community of color is not in the loop or actually getting these jobs getting the bigger contracts, where they can actually work and feed their families and still have a livable wage.”

Many times, Kelley says, people of color are the ones installing new solar panels but their own homes don’t have them. They might not have green technology within their homes as lower wages and salaries don’t provide enough room for emerging technology or people can a focus of day to day survival, where green technology isn’t on their mind.

North Side Rising wants marginalized communities to have access to the technology that can help mitigate air pollution and high heating bills. They provide educational sessions on green technology as well as policies and action people can take to protect themselves.

“The green industry jobs are going to do two things at once,” Kelley says. “They’re going to combat climate issues, as well as economic issues within the community of color.”

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