J500 Media and the Environment

Blue Collar Green by vincemeserko

So those were some pretty tough dudes in the Sundance film we watched last week. I wouldn’t want to grapple with them in a back alley steetfight involving bare knuckles and/or weapons (although, if someone gave me a magnet I could probably do some damage to that one guy’s ear). I would, however, like to extend my hand to them and offer them a place in the global sustainability conversation and a place in my own personal eco-brotherhood. The ironworkers, carpet layers, plumbers, and roofers of South Boston represent a type of community ignored for too long among green decision makers. This is the sort of traditional blue collar “I want to get my hands dirty” work that seems at odds with the negatively (incorrectly) stereotyped view that the liberal bourgeoisie are the only community preoccupied with environmental causes.

These workers may have looked at the green movement from the perspective of a passive observer or a skeptical cynic, but show them what it means to their own work and there might be a marked shift in perspective. It becomes apart of what they do and is something they can feel and touch and marvel at when they’re done. It no longer seems unimportant. It also tells us about the nature of the work itself. There’s an age-old societal view that this sort of job is not satisfying, it’s a stopgap to something better or that it’s only reserved for those who couldn’t make it doing anything else. That ignores the fact that plumbers, carpet layers, roofers, ironworkes, steelworkers etc. might actually like what they do, and like anyone else with a job they like, they want to be as good at it as possible. If these workers see that the best way to do their job is to do it in a way that is environmentally-conscious the skepticism they may have had goes away and they might not even recognize it.

These workers have a genuine interest in how things are built, the resourcefulness of materials, and the mechanics of construction. Why not find a green initiative they can support that is in line with these interests and is cognizant of these values?

I don’t think the video is a wild unrepresentative example either. Clean energy, for example, is being seen as a way of actually creating more blue collar jobs as this Living on Earth spot demonstrates. This morning’s KC Star business section also had an interesting story about green-building projects in Kansas City. By far the coolest example of “blue collar going green” is this example from Wired Magazine of a hybrid-only repair shop in San Francisco’s SOMA district. It’s the prime example of green consumer products (hybrids) fueling green niche services (hybrid repair) that are being serviced by blue collar workers (the mechanics). Pretty cool.

San Francisco Hybrid Mechanic

-Vince Meserko


3 Comments so far
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[…] vincemeserko sure knows how to captivate the audience. A recent post was published on Blue Collar GreenHere’s a brief excerpt of what was written: […]

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Everything you say here can be applied to every shade of worker – from white to green. We all want to feel an investment in the work we pour our blood, sweat and tears into and we all want to feel a sense of accomplishment. I think the industries you mentioned, perhaps, have a better sense of that because folks can see the fruits of their labors. Thank you for this thoughtful post – and for reminding us of how to continue to connect with others.

Comment by j500

Its definitely the future…but how long before petrol and diesel cars run out of service?

Comment by Mobile Car Service

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