Stacy Noland is taking green jobs to the streets
A former Microsoft manager who was "the token black guy" in the local environmental community, is pursuing a dream to save the planet and rebuild the social fabric by helping disadvantaged people get aboard the coming green economy.
For 20 years, Stacy Noland says, "I was the token black guy" in local environmental and conservation circles — saving old-growth forests here, recruiting idealists for enviro careers there.
As a manager at Microsoft, where he joined its green and black affinity groups, he brought technology to "the last mile," remote reaches of Africa, China and India.
Now Noland, 40, has left to fight climate change and "rebuild the social fabric of this country" by creating green jobs "for the last mile first — for the most economically disadvantaged, socially disconnected."
He created Moontown Foundation (www.moontownfoundation.org), its name evoking the shoot-for-the-moon astronauts he grew up admiring in NASA-dominated Huntsville, Ala. Last year its Summer of Sustainability initiative sent 96 young people to the University of Washington to study global warming at the University of Washington and visit biofuel companies and wind farms. This year it's begun training low-income, low-skilled young adults in basic residential weatherization and readying them for more training to fill skilled-trade green jobs anticipated in the next several years.
He's calling in chits with movers and shakers, shaking money trees (and putting in $125,000; he's a Microsoft "thousandaire" not millionaire, but says he'll write a book and license green intellectual property). He's partnered with the city and others, including Got Green, a nonprofit already working low-income streets, because "I'm African American but I'm not from the 'hood. I live in Kirkland."
He hopes to contribute a model the Obama administration can replicate. "It's my personal mission to get the people at the last mile to adopt energy conservation, healthy, sustainable living and alternative transportation, first. Those are the hardest people to reach.
"If we get to the people in Skyway and White Center, getting Queen Anne and Magnolia later is the easy part."
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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