Green jobs aren’t just for environmental specialists; they include jobs in manufacturing, services, skilled trades, design, scientific research & development.

Since 1994, DWEJ has advocated for educating and empowering the people of Detroit to “Take a Stand for the Land in the Hood” through our community and civic engagement programs. Like other groups, we advocated for better jobs with fair pay, so we decided to put our vision into action and created a job training program called BUD.

BUD, or Build Up Detroit, started in 2008 and was dedicated to transforming Detroit into a national leader in sustainability through a comprehensive strategy of: 

  • Green job creation and training
  • Civic engagement through youth programs and public education about health hazards
  • Community and economic development

BUD integrated economic development, social equity and environmental protection to promote a truly sustainable revitalization in Detroit and to empower communities to take leadership in transforming their environments into healthy places in which to live, work, and play. It encompassed some of our earlier programs and led the way in creating new ones as well.

BUD was truly ahead of its time and devised practical, creative solutions to previously unaddressed environmental justice problems in Detroit. For example, through our Workforce Development program, we were able to provide economic empowerment to low-income populations in the green construction industry. 

BUD: An Umbrella Program for Community and Civic Engagement Initiatives  

BUD training

Green Jobs Training 

The Green Jobs/Workforce Development Training program was created to prepare Detroit-area residents for jobs in the emerging green economy through state-certified training in lead, mold and asbestos abatement, hazardous waste worker training at EPA-approved technician level, energy-related technology and environmental assessments. We also developed a framework for a pre-apprenticeship training program, one of the few to invite citizens returning from incarceration.

Youth on Patrol Against Pollution

Following best practices in peer training, problem solving, intergenerational leadership, mentoring and community organizing, this program built youth capacity for advocacy and civic engagement. Students researched polluting facilities to conduct “toxic tours,” worked with the Belle Isle Nature Center, and prepared to start environmental justice clubs at their schools. Learn more.

Community Hazards Awareness Training Seminar (CHATS)

One of our earliest and longest running programs was created in collaboration with the University of Cincinnati and as part of the Midwest Consortium for Hazardous Waste Worker Training.  More than 5,000 people were trained through this program. DWEJ conducted seminars to help participants identify known asthma triggers and other health hazards in their homes and communities, such as lead and other toxins. CHATS was also an organizing tool – first to educate community members about the environmental health hazards in their homes and neighborhoods, and then to build their capacity to make their community a safer, healthier place to live for the most vulnerable population, such as children ages 5 to 14, minority populations, and low-income urban residents. 

Home Intervention Team (HIT)

Skilled professionals tested the home of children who had traces of lead in their systems and provided in-home intervention and remediation services, such as modified lead abatement, asthma trigger control and mold removal. 

A Vision for Sustainability

In addition to the programs above, BUD laid out full plans for a Detroit Sustainability Center, which was designed to bring our vision to life. The Detroit Sustainability Center was envisioned as a model for ecologically sustainable building that would serve as a networking resource and community education center.

photo by inFORM studio, Conservation Design Forum, and URS Corporation

Although the BUD program did not survive the substantial changes Detroit underwent from 2008 onward (corruption scandals, interim mayorship, special elections, bankruptcy, emergency management, etc.), it lives on today through our Green Jobs program and the Detroit Environmental Agenda Collaborative. It also inspired numerous organizations in Detroit in their fight for a greener, safer, and healthier city. 

Read Catalyzing a Sustainable Detroit: A Community Directed Strategic Plan.

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