Amy Goldsmith presented both a depressing and hopeful overview of the state of the environment, job market, general health of the public as well as the urban degradation in the two largest cities in N.J., Newark and Camden.
Concentrating primarily on Newark, Goldsmith, who is state director of the N.J. Environmental Federation, contrasted the privileged position occupied by all of the audience with that of the majority of Newark citizens: those present having houses, jobs, clean water, healthy food, clean air, good schools, parks, good transportation, and those in our largest city not having any of the above.
Working for environmental and economic justice, her organization strives to change the urban lack of privilege by showing the youth options in green jobs and training them to be "citizens of the world". In order to create a new generation of environmental activists, elected officials, media, business and non-profit organizations all must be enlisted in the effort.
"Soft Skills" Basic to Jobs
Crucial to training urban youth for jobs in a green environment, the Environmental Federation is working at ground zero to teach the basic "soft skills" necessary to obtaining a job, i.e. how to dress, how to write a resume, how to be prompt for work, etc.
The hopeful aspect of Goldsmith's presentation focused on the fact that the environmental justice movement is nationwide, and some unions, namely the Electrical and Steel Workers Union, and some elected officials, such as Mayor of Newark Corey Booker, are dedicated to the goals of the Foundation.
The possibility that the UUCMC might devise ways to join this movement occupied much of the dialog portion of the program.