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Emerald Cities Collaborative (ECC)'s Visual Map

  • Co-founded by Joel Rogers, co-founder of the Apollo Alliance, COWS, and Green For All
  • Aims to “retrofit” America, city by city

Founded in 2008, the Emerald Cities Collaborative (ECC) describes itself as “a consortium of diverse organizations – businesses, unions, community organizations, development intermediaries, social justice advocates, research and technical assistance providers – united around the goal of ‘greening’ our metropolitan areas in high-road ways that advance equal opportunity, shared wealth, and democracy within them.”

Specifically, ECC's goal is “to achieve significant reductions in the carbon footprint and energy consumption” of towns and cities nationwide. To this end, the organization urges cities to “substantially increase the energy efficiency of citywide building stock over ten years while prioritizing poor communities.” Says ECC:

“Buildings are the largest national source of energy consumption, costing $400 billion annually in energy bills and comprising 80 percent of local carbon emissions in some cities. Yet, efficiency gains between 30 and 50 percent are possible using existing, cost-effective technology. Reducing energy consumption requires a comprehensive retrofit of building stock. The most significant residential gains in efficiency will be made by retrofitting the poorly maintained, oldest, and least efficient building stock concentrated in poor communities.”

The emphasis on "poor communities" satisfies ECC's objective of working for the redistribution of wealth -- in this case, wealth in the form of housing quality.

In its effort to "comprehensively retrofit all of America's urban building stock," ECC vows to bypass “market-driven models” that “pass over low-income neighborhoods, weaken labor standards, and threaten quality of work.” Instead, it seeks to implement an “alternative model” that involves “launching city-scale building retrofit and inclusive green job training programs.” By 2010, ECC had employed its retrofit strategy in 15 cities throughout the United States: Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, Louisville, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York City, Oakland, Portland, Providence, San Francisco, St. Paul, and Seattle.

Joel Rogers, whom broadcaster Glenn Beck nicknamed the “Wizard of Emerald Cities,” co-founded ECC to augment the Obama administration's efforts to establish a "green" economy in the United States. MIT Professor J. Phillip Thompson and SEIU Executive Vice President Gerry Hudson were Rogers’ founding partners. Along with Rogers’ other groups -- the Apollo Alliance, COWS, and Green For All -- ECC has become a major player in the push for Cap and Trade legislation.

ECC's donors include the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Kendeda Fund, the Kresge Foundation, Living Cities, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Surdna Foundation.

Often described as “the architect between progressives and labor,” Rogers has received high praise from John Sweeney and Andrew Stern for creating new partnerships for the greater progressive community: “Nobody outside the American labor movement has shaped our present thinking as profoundly.” Indeed, ECC’s Board of Directors reflects Rogers’ longtime effort to unite leaders in the new labor movement with those in environmental activism, business, and progressive philanthropy. Joining Rogers on ECC’s board are, among others:

  • SEIU’s Gerry Hudson
  • Doris Koo, President and CEO of Enterprise Community Partners (where Franklin Raines, former CEO of Fannie Mae, and Alicia Glenn of Goldman Sachs are key figures)
  • Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, former Executive Director of Working Partnerships USA and current CEO of Van JonesGreen For All
  • Angela Blackwell, founder and CEO of PolicyLink and former Vice President of the Rockefeller Foundation
  • Art Lujan, special assistant to the President of the AFL-CIO
  • Michael Rubinger, President and CEO of Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), former official with the Ford Foundation, and former Executive Vice President of the Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Steve Allen, a director at the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters
  • Leslie Moon, Executive Director of the Partnership for Working Families, an offshoot of Working Partnerships USA
  • Sally Prouty, President of the Corps Network
  • Dorothy Stoneman, founder and President of YouthBuild USA
  • Ken Wade, CEO of NeighborWorks America
  • Jerry Westerholm, Director of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
  • Sunia Zaterman, Executive Director of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities

ECC operates as a network of labor, environmentalist, and social justice groups, including, among others:

Rogers has long been an opponent of capitalism, which he describes as “monstrous.” “Profit-seeking business,” he argues, “essentially owns our political system; it owns the political parties; it funds their conventions; it provides the lion share of the $1 billion in private cash that decides this year who gets to play in the electoral game.” These values set the tone for ECC as an organization. Through its Efficiency Cities Network, for instance, ECC seeks to educate “government staff, researchers and technical assistance providers, and NGOs” to pursue the "generation, local capture, and equitable distribution of resulting power, wealth, health, income, employment, and other opportunities."



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