10000-butterflies-youth-unemployment-change-hopeI’m sick and tired of being bombarded with how rotten things are in big cities. Yeah, I know there’s a lot of crime. And youth unemployment, especially in low-income neighborhoods. Pollution. Traffic congestion. It’s a long list but it’s not all bad.

There’s still hope. Some urban areas are tackling youth unemployment AND building sustainable cities at the same time. There are good people and organizations out there bridging the gap between discouragement and optimism.

Rebuilding what’s broken.

Encouraging young people who are often marginalized.

Working together.

Changing lives.

What gives me hope is knowing that there are cities where innovation, collaboration, and a vision of a better future for all of us powers transformation.

Green City Force is an Americorps program that trains unemployed youth from public housing projects in the sustainable energy industry. Kids who would otherwise languish in low paying, low skill jobs spend a service year with Green City Force. What do they work on? Projects like painting rooftops in New York City with reflective paint. About 1.5 million square feet of rooftops! (NYC CoolRoofs campaign).

They built an urban farm on public housing property that grew almost 2 tons of food in its first year of operation. Four more large urban farms followed. And a new park in public housing. The young employees have done thousands of health and safety audits in low-income homes. These audits led to retrofits that saved each resident over $100 a year on their utility bills. And this is just the tip of the “youth unemployment-sustainable cities” iceberg.

What’s the big deal about training out of work young people in green building practices anyway? Simple economics, my friend.


According YouthBuild USA, “green building jobs account for over 55% of the design and construction workforce, with a demand that greatly exceeds the workforce supply.” 


sustainable-cities-youth-unemploymentUnemployed young people are an  often ignored pool of talent and energy. YouthBuild USA programs teach green building construction skills and enable their students to earn industry-recognized credentials. It’s a win-win all around. Graduates get good-paying jobs in the construction industry, breaking the cycle of poverty. And they help build sustainable cities.


OK, now it’s your turn to spread a little good news.

What’s happening in your city?

Do you have programs that address youth unemployment?

What about sustainable cities projects?

Green buildings?

Share your community’s story here because we all need to hear about places that combine hope with elbow grease to create change.



10,000-butterflies-project-hope-beauty-transformationWe are all stronger and better when we work together.

Together we can create a world where beauty, transformation, and hope thrives.

10,000 Butterflies is dedicated to planting hope and growing change. Every one of us has the power to create positive change — in our own lives and in the lives of others. Together we can solve problems and build stronger communities. 10,000 Butterflies is a place to connect with others making good things happen, to find resources, to be inspired and to celebrate what connects us instead of what divides us.

Please join us.

Bonnie Pond is the founder of the 10,000 Butterflies Project and author of The Power of Three: How to be Happy and Get What You Want in Life (Without Doing Anything Illegal, Immoral, or Unethical) and Unlock Your Creativity: 30 Days to a More Creative YOU! 


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