Do Better - Change in the Coalfields Episode 8

On our most recent podcast, we had the opportunity and honor to speak with Jason Walsh, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance. The BlueGreen Alliance is a national organization that unites labor unions with environmental groups to focus on three core objectives: building a cleaner economy, constructing cleaner infrastructure, and promoting fair trade. Walsh’s career did not begin with the BlueGreen Alliance and boasts over two decades of experience in a range of issues from clean energy and climate to workforce and governmental policy development.

Through our conversations with Jason Walsh, it’s clear that he has devoted his entire life, self, and career to the betterment of individuals across the country, fighting for a cleaner future for the world and the workers of our nation. Walsh truly lives by the motto, spoken by the late Senator Paul Wellstone, “[W]e all do better when we all do better,” that has driven him so far in his career. Often, policies and programs that support the less fortunate members of our country are perceived as taking resources from one part of society — which is often perceived as the “better” part of society, whatever that may mean –and “handing it out,” giving it to another part – often perceived as the “weak” or “problemed” portion of society. However, what Senator Wellstone’s quote gets at is the fact that when we leave behind a part of our community or when we exclude certain peoples from opportunity, we all get pulled down, we all lose. We are only as good as the summation of our parts.

This is what Jason Walsh, BlueGreen Alliance, Coalfield Development, and non-profits, social enterprises across our nation are fighting for. Creating a better whole, a better “us.” For we all will eventually be judged by how we treat the least among us.

Through the coming years a reckoning is to occur on what the nation owes to the individuals, groups, and communities that built this country – to the McDowell and Wayne Counties, to the Flint and Detroit Michigan’s, to the coal miners, steelmakers, and industry workers that have created the backbone of the very country we are blessed to be in. If we truly commit to doing so, we can build a better, stronger, cleaner America for ALL; do not let any narrative tell you otherwise.

It is thought by some that the shared mission between blue-collar industries and environmentalism is one that is impossible to maintain. These cynics argue that eventually, society has to choose either a clean environment or good jobs. Nonsense. We have lost sight of our potential as a country and as a people if we give in to such a dumbed down dichotomy. BlueGreen Alliance, Coalfield Development and alike organizations prove that this is not true. We can create both a cleaner future and better careers for hardworking Americans who enjoy the feeling of a hard day’s work and callused hands. In order to see this reality, all one has to do is examine the track record and achievements of the organization above and the thousands of aligned enterprises that have risen to the occasion to fight for these just causes.

Walsh’s track record in helping communities, workers, and groups left behind and forgotten by a rapidly globalizing, changing, and evolving economy is extensive; however, if this wasn’t enough to make him an amazing candidate to speak on our show, his experience in serving the people of our region makes him truly standout. While serving in the Obama Administration, Walsh spearheaded the POWER Initiative (Partnerships and Opportunity in Workforce Revitalization), a federal plan to help coal communities’ transition towards a better economy with cleaner and more efficient

means of energy production. His experiences in helping the coal communities that citizens of the coalfields find themselves fixed towards is notable. He too believes that the people of our region deserve more, and he has committed himself towards fighting for this goal.

“Doing better” for Walsh, is a way of life. His contributions to forgotten, less fortunate regions across the nation are commendable to the highest degree. With the help of individuals like Jason Walsh, a change in the coalfields is coming. The time to do better is now!

Co-authored by Brandon Dennison and Cameron Adkins

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