The Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) Northwest is a group of community organizing alliances in Washington and Oregon, including the Sound Alliance, the Spokane Alliance, and the Metropolitan Alliance for Common Good. It is an affiliate of the IAF network, the oldest and largest network of community based organizing in the nation, with affiliated organizations in more than 50 cities. In the Northwest, it has brought together an uncommon mix of constituencies-more than 100 synagogues, churches, education associations, building trades unions, immigrant and neighborhood organizations, and recovery and disability organizations-and has discovered that green jobs ties them together in a deep and meaningful way. "This is about our community values," says the Rev. Terry Moe, a leader in the Portland-area Metropolitan Alliance for Common Good. "It is offering opportunities for people to match their values with their work-being responsible for the earth and making a living at the same time."
IAF Northwest has been engaged with the green job sector since 2004, when it worked with its affiliated Alliances to secure its first sustainable jobs victory. Because of the groups' action, Spokane Public Schools adopted policies tying green building requirements with apprentice utilization standards-creating a pathway for at-risk students into green construction careers. As a result of their advocacy and education efforts, Washington State passed legislation establishing the same combination of standards for all of its public buildings and schools. Buoyed by their success, the organizations used a Surdna seed grant to launch SustainableWorks as a pilot project in 2006 to create jobs by retrofitting nonprofit buildings.
With the help of the Sound and Spokane Alliances, SustainableWorks has achieved many notable policy wins, including what Green For All called "the most comprehensive and groundbreaking green jobs legislation of our time." In 2009, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire signed green-jobs legislation supported by the Sound and Spokane Alliances that designated $14.5 million for community-based energy efficiency retrofit projects to create green job opportunities for lower-income and disadvantaged communities in Washington State.
The Alliances and SustainableWorks have had a deep impact on the green economy in Washington State. They have worked with more than 1,200 homeowners in low -income neighborhoods, resulting in 540 audits and 232 comprehensive retrofits, averaging 40 percent heating-related energy savings per home. Most recently, the Alliances are working to launch a package of Green and Equitable Economy Organizing initiatives to build a more diverse and durable base of organizations committed to making the transition to a broadly sustainable and low-carbon economy as quickly and equitably as possible. "We are not acting for the short term. We realize that shifting to a sustainable and equitable economy may well take a generation," says Rev. Moe. "We are committed to this for the long haul."
Fostering sustainable communities in the United States — communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures.