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Inventing Eco-Cycle

A Social Enterprise Approach to Sustainability Education

Sandy Smith-Nonini

This article discusses lessons learned from a social enterprise project supporting sustainability education in central North Carolina (U.S.A.). Since 2011, Eco-Cycle,1 a retail shop featuring creative-reuse has provided support for a community meeting space that offers weekly environmental education workshops. Many approaches to social justice-oriented green initiatives in the United States emulate urban agriculture models and tend to be grant-dependent in early years, only achieving economic sustainability with difficulty. In contrast, our non-profit co-op of upcycler crafters and vintage vendors grew out of production and marketing of upcycled rain barrels, based on a social enterprise approach rather than a traditional model. I discuss the stepping-stones to this venture, which originated through a neighbourhood energy conservation initiative, followed by alliance-building with non-profits to promote green job creation. I relate the complications and surprising forms of synergism emerging from the social enterprise approach to social theory on cooperatives and community-based development models.

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Daniel Breslau

Hess, David J. 2012. Good Green Jobs in a Global Economy: Making and Keeping New Industries in the United States. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Verbong, Geert, and Derk Loorbach, eds. 2012. Governing the Energy Transition: Reality, Illusion or Necessity? New York: Routledge.

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Robert Rohrschneider and Michael R. Wolf

During the summer of campaign year 2002, the election already

seemed lost for the SPD/Green government. Public opinion polls

saw the governing coalition trailing by several percentage points,

whereas the CDU/CSU, together with the FDP, looked like the sure

winner. A central reason for the malaise of the red-green government

was the ailing economy. Unemployment rates hovered at the 4

million mark and would have been even higher if governmentfunded

jobs had been added to the official unemployment rates.

Consequently, a substantial majority of citizens considered the creation

of jobs Germany’s most important problem.1 This constituted

an especially severe burden for Chancellor Schröder. In 1998 he had

promised to push unemployment rates below 3.5 million or, he

stated, he did not deserve re-election. Thus, many observers and

voters expected the September 2002 election to be a referendum on

the governments’ handling of the economy. Since the chancellor had

not delivered, voters were about to vote the incumbent government

out of office.