Resilient Green Infrastructure and Workforce Development

Defining Pathways Toward a Boston-Area Program for Underserved Communities

The Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation (CSNDC) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) partnered on this “green paper” to help guide the development of such a program. We started with a literature scan of green infrastructure that considered the benefits and challenges of green infrastructure workforce development programs for communities.

High unemployment for men of color, health-related issues in urban environments such as heat stress related to heat island effect and poor air quality, and a historic lack of investment in affordable housing, public transit, economic opportunities, and walkable streets in cities speak to the need for social, economic, and environmental justice. The development of a workforce to install and maintain green infrastructure in urban areas represents a potentially significant economic opportunity for under-resourced and marginalized communities and a chance to address issues of inequity. We envision environmental nonprofit organizations, local community development corporations, state and local governments, and people of color who own businesses or are contractors, among others, working together to generate transformative solutions that help to provide social and economic justice for these communities and increase urban climate resilience.

In accordance with this vision, a major objective of the partnership between CSNDC and TNC is to improve the social and environmental resilience of residents—particularly people of color and their communities—starting in Boston’s Codman Square area. This objective is two-fold: creating skills training and job opportunities that offer residents steady work, possible career paths, and ways to make a positive contribution to their neighborhood; and advancing green infrastructure development to reduce stormwater and other climate-related impacts, such as the urban heat island effect.

This green paper is an initial step toward addressing the question: How can green infrastructure workforce development support equitable economic opportunity and environmental sustainability in the Codman Square neighborhood, and in particular lead to the creation of sustainable jobs for people of color, with a focus on young people and men of color? We aim to:

  1. share our findings within a national context and learn from existing green infrastructure workforce development programs,
  2. identify potential pathways that can help create a green infrastructure workforce development program in Codman Square, and
  3. help inform TNC’s and CSNDC’s decisions on next steps in the partnership.

Attached document published October 2020

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