The reports are in from last week's "Good Jobs, Green Jobs" conference in Pittsburgh, Pa., and attendees are saying it was a great success. More than 1,100 people attended the Blue Green Alliance conference. People networked, listened to speakers and attended workshops on issues ranging from how switching to clean energy can create jobs, to increasing energy efficiency, to greening the auto industry, to changing brownfields into green cities, and much more.
Attendees said their highlights included meeting people from a wide range of backgrounds - from union workers to CEOs to community organizers and college students, and more - all interested in the future of clean energy jobs.
Said one attendee, "You could just feel the buzz of enthusiasm. People really want to work together for change."
From another conference-goer who was excited to see so many union representatives: "I think as we shift into the clean energy economy, our interests are aligned more than ever, not just in theory but in practice, that's what I was hearing from union representatives."
The Blue Green Alliance organization is a partnership of the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club - an alliance that was surprising in some ways for many who attended the conference to learn of. It is surprising...if you apply the old energy economy of the twentieth century to it, a model of big, centralized, power generation dependent on carbon intensive coal, oil, and gas. But it is not surprising at all if you look at it the way the Steelworkers and the Sierra Club do--as pioneers in the work to forge a new, clean energy economy based on green energy and the green jobs that will produce and distribute it. The Blue Green Alliance is firmly planted in the future instead of the past, and I suspect that forward looking vision was important to the level of excitement at the conference.
Our own energy team members who went enjoyed hearing success stories from cities that have switched to green energy - including those from the Mayor of Minneapolis and from the Mayor of Sudbury, Ontario.
Pennsylvania representatives talked up the clean energy successes in their own state, citing filling some vacant manufacturing facilities in Pittsburgh with new green jobs and retraining workers for the increasing clean energy positions.
The conference goers also cited the interesting contrast of having the event in Pittsburgh: "There was something very cool about sitting in the town of Pittsburgh, with its giant Steelworkers building and all its industrial roots, and talking about protecting the environment. I think the conference could mark the moment when environmentalism and industry met and began to form their own new path together."
If you're interested in the next conference about green jobs, you should check out "The Dream is Reborn" from April 4-6 in Memphis, Tenn. Also, to hear more about the Green Jobs conference, check out these two good posts from Grist - One and Two.
Image credit::Quipu Economic Forum, "Pittsburgh Jobs Conference to Focus on Greening of US Industry, Spurring Transition to 'Green-collar' Workforce"