WBEZ | green jobs http://www.wbez.org/tags/green-jobs Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Hacking back invasive species, and crime http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/hacking-back-invasive-species-and-crime-105895 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/kickapoo610px.jpg" title="Members of the Calumet Invasive Species Conservation Corps toss sections of felled tress onto a fire in Kickapoo Woods. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></p><p>Brenda Elmore grew up in West Pullman, literally a stone&rsquo;s throw from the Whistler Preserve in Riverdale, Ill. Even though she has always lived within walking distance of some of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County&rsquo;s largest holdings, she learned from a young age to stay away from them.</p><p>&ldquo;I used to be scared to come anywhere near it,&rdquo; Elmore said.</p><p>She says her parents told her that Jason, the machete-wielding killer from the <em>Friday the 13<sup>th </sup></em>movies, lived in the Forest Preserves. In reality, they were worried about gangs. The far south side forest preserves&rsquo; seclusion and proximity to areas troubled by gang activity made them ideal <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1991-12-10/news/9104210097_1_decomposed-body-shallow-graves">dumping grounds for bodies</a>. And a dense underbrush of white poplar, buckthorn and purple loosestrife &mdash; all invasive species &mdash; obscured any view of the interior from the road.</p><p>As she cuts back invasive species with a chainsaw&nbsp;in Kickapoo Woods, it&rsquo;s clear Elmore, 50, has come a long way &mdash; and so have the Forest Preserves. She is part of the Calumet Invasive Species Conservation Corps, an EPA-funded program that hired workers from underrepresented areas of Chicago to restore at least 228 acres of wetland and wet prairieland in the Calumet region. Friends of the Forest Preserves co-administers the $518,467 federal grant, which is part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, with the Student Conservation Association.</p><p>&ldquo;Our first time out here it was just an impenetrable mass,&rdquo; says Elmore, an alumna of the city&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/greencorps-graduates-cultivate-citys-green-jobs-105042">Green Corps job training program</a>. &ldquo;We had to fight our way through it.&rdquo;</p><p>Prairie restoration in the Calumet, as in many places, is largely about <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/restoring-prairieland-calumets-industrial-corridor-104751">clearing invasives that have choked out native species</a> by blocking all the light. Dozens of species of bygone prairie grasses still have seeds lying dormant in the soil, and could take off once again if conservationists can help them establish a foothold.</p><p>A five-person crew hacked at ash trees and white poplars Monday, nearly one and a half years into their two-year stint with the program. Aerial photographs from 2007 and 2011 show how much progress they, along with volunteer groups and contractors, have made.</p><p>&ldquo;I always turn the group around on their way out of the site after a day&rsquo;s work,&rdquo; says group supervisor Brian Mann. &ldquo;So they can see the impact they have.&rdquo;</p><p>A <a href="http://thenatureniche.com/2011/10/11/construction-of-sandhill-cranes/">construction</a> of sandhill cranes flies overhead. They are migrating and looking for somewhere to stop off. Kickapoo probably doesn&rsquo;t have enough water to attract them, Mann says, but as biodiversity returns to the site it is likely to sustain species the area&#39;s stewards would have been lucky to spot decades ago.</p><p>For Mann, who came to this line of work from real estate and then plumbing, restoration is also about self-discovery.</p><p>&ldquo;I used to hate getting up in the morning,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Now I love my job.&rdquo;</p><p>It is a similar story for Elmore.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t realize I liked being outside as much as I do,&rdquo; she says. At first Green Corps was &ldquo;just a job&rdquo; for her, she says, but she soon realized she liked the work. After the Calumet Invasive Species Conservation Corps program is complete, Elmore hopes to land a job that will keep her outside, working with nature.</p><p><object height="458" width="610"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2F34610267%40N05%2Fsets%2F72157632920439174%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2F34610267%40N05%2Fsets%2F72157632920439174%2F&amp;set_id=72157632920439174&amp;jump_to=" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2F34610267%40N05%2Fsets%2F72157632920439174%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2F34610267%40N05%2Fsets%2F72157632920439174%2F&amp;set_id=72157632920439174&amp;jump_to=" height="458" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="610"></embed></object></p></p> Tue, 05 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/hacking-back-invasive-species-and-crime-105895 Greencorps graduates cultivate city's green jobs http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/greencorps-graduates-cultivate-citys-green-jobs-105042 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/greencorps-graduation-gabe-klein.jpg" title="Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein congratulates the 2012 class of Greencorps — a green jobs training program run by the city. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></p><p>Another 22 Chicagoans graduated Friday from the city&rsquo;s green job training program, Greencorps Chicago, earning qualifications in a slew of industry skills and hopefully a leg-up in a job market that previously deemed them hard-to-employ.</p><p>This was a transition year for the 19-year-old program, as the city&rsquo;s Department of Environment continued its merger with the Department of Transportation. The 2012 program was scaled back from previous years, notably phasing out its direct support for community gardens.</p><p>In addition to their Greencorps diplomas, each graduate collected a binder of certificates earned throughout the course of the program, from hazardous materials training and CPR to brownfield clean-up.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s more than just planting trees and shrubs,&rdquo; <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2004-01-02/news/0401020175_1_employment-counseling-and-training-homeless-shelter-job">Felicia Solebo</a>, a program alumna, told the 2012 class gathered at Garfield Park Conservatory on Friday. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s about our community and creating a better quality of life.&rdquo;</p><p>Solebo spent years looking for work after her release from prison in 1993. Greencorps and other job training programs helped her land a job with Christy Webber Landscapes, where she has worked for 13 years.</p><p>Greencorps has graduated 415 Chicagoans since 1994. The work &mdash; planting trees, landscaping and helping manage Chicagoland&rsquo;s natural areas &mdash; pays minimum wage and emphasizes hands-on learning.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/treasa-wilson.jpg" title="Treasa Wilson, a 55-year-old custodian from the city's West Side, was the 2012 class speaker. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></p><p>&ldquo;You learn a lot, including about nature itself,&rdquo; said 55-year-old Treasa Wilson, a custodian and 2012 graduate of the program. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t really appreciate nature before.&rdquo;</p><p>Wilson grew up in East Garfield Park and now lives in Austin. Once terrified of worms, Wilson now wants to work in a plant nursery.&nbsp;Her transformation began three years ago, when she started keeping plants to cope with the loss of her grandson, Johnathan. She started caring for them like family members.</p><p>&ldquo;You have to nourish plants,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Just like human beings.&rdquo;</p><p>Greencorps was a more formal introduction to botany and landscaping. Wilson learned to identify plant species in the wild, cut back invasive buckthorn and manage landscapes through controlled burning. She is studying for her GED.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re just trying to make this a better place to live, and make this a cleaner and greener city,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But it&rsquo;s going to take more than just me and Greencorps.<em>&quot;</em></p></p> Mon, 21 Jan 2013 07:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/greencorps-graduates-cultivate-citys-green-jobs-105042 Venture: How 'going green' can bring businesses into the black http://www.wbez.org/story/venture-climate-capitalist-says-going-green-brings-businesses-black-86236 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-09/CityHallGreenRoof.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Retail sales numbers come out on Thursday, and that will provide clues as to how consumers are feeling, especially with high prices at the pump.</p><p>Lots of businesses these days are counting on people's desire to protect the environment.</p><p>At this weekend's Green Festival at McCormick Place, everything from hemp pet toys to fair trade chocolate will be for sale.</p><p>But there's more to protecting the environment than buying certain products... companies have to fundamentally change how they do business.</p><p>Hunter Lovins says they can do that and boost profits at the same time. She's a Colorado-based consultant who will talk about that at the festival.</p><p>WBEZ's Katie O'Brien spoke with her and first, had to get one question out of the way.</p><p>For this week’s <em>Windy Indicator</em>, WBEZ’s Erica Hunter is looking outside the box for hints on the economy.</p><p>The start of May is one of those times Chicagoans are surrounded by boxes; moving boxes, that is. Pete Horvath is the owner of <a href="http://www.move-tastic.com/about/">Move-tastic Moving Company</a> on Chicago’s North Side and he said his trucks and movers have kept busy this moving season.</p><p>“We have been overwhelmed with the amount of business. We turn away the majority of our business towards the end of the month. Nowadays we’re typically booking up two to three weeks in advance.” Horvath said.</p><p>But he says his company’s experience may not be typical.</p><p>“Not every moving company is doing well right now,” Horvath said. “It’s tough to run a business right now, so I think the people that aren’t adapting to what people want are the ones that are having difficulty.”</p><p>And what people want is service Horvath said.&nbsp; And boy are his guys fast.</p><p>Sometimes people are so stressed they don’t even think about tipping, but Horvath remained patient.</p><p>“We never bring it up on a move,” he said. “That’s rule number one. You never say, so where’s my tip?”</p><p>But on busy May 1st, for instance, he got tipped for every move. Horvath said he’s a schmoozer.</p><p>Next week, our <em>Windy Indicator</em> gets formal and takes a peek at proms.</p></p> Mon, 09 May 2011 12:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/venture-climate-capitalist-says-going-green-brings-businesses-black-86236