Citizen Obie Goes To Work, Episode II: Origins And Thanks

I’d been meaning to do this post for a while, but now that I’ve started the series Citizen Obie Goes To Work (Episode I here), in which I talk about my non-Citizen Obie mission, now seems like a good time to take it on.

A while back, my good friends from New York; Miranda, Zoe, Katie, Phoebe, Silvia (and sister Ruth) started a blog I link to here, Women’s Glib.  If you’ve never checked it out, I highly recommend it.  Not only do they regularly get shout-outs from the likes of Feministing and Mother Jones, but they changed my life.  No seriously, they did.

For one thing, seeing Women’s Glib get up and running was a huge inspiration to me starting this blog in the first place.  Citizen Obie, and my constant struggle to articulate myself as a civic-minded person is now, as my drinking buddies will wearily attest, a huge part of my identity.  I would be missing a lot without this thing, and I’ve got Women’s Glib (and yeah, undoubtedly Obama) to thank for it.  But moving on to how Women’s Glib also jump-started my professional life.

Back in February when I was quite a different person, Zoe first drew my attention to the issue of gender equity in economic development and green jobs.  I was just starting to turn from a hardcore enviro and climate activist to an environmental justice/green jobs advocate, and it struck a chord.  Granted I’d been more concerned with how climate/energy legislation and stimulus funding was going to economically develop racial and low-income communities, but when I thought about it it made sense.  Much of the green economy was going to be focused on production industries.  Most of production industry workers are men.  How do we make sure women are equal participants and beneficiaries?  This idea stuck with me as I thought more about how I saw my involvement in the climate movement (with which I still identify) would take shape.

That semester I kept looking for jobs and internships, and was thinking a lot about urban agriculture, when I saw an ad for a talk at the Bonner Center for Service and Learning.  I wasn’t really that interested in it, but I’d heard of social enterprise from some Nick Kristof column (also, now that I think about it, a women’s advocate) and was interested to see that the speaker was from an organization that worked on getting women into construction jobs.  I was really mostly into urban ag still (and to be fair I’ve still got high hopes that I’ll get back to it), but the issue had remained on my mind, and I thought I’d check it out from someone on the front lines of trying to make sure women were in the fields that would one day be green.

Terri (my now boss) was offering an internship, one in social enterprise and one on a project to do market research and write a business plan for a deconstruction contracting company.  Not quite urban ag, but green jobs none the less- and what better way to learn about green jobs than to work at creating them?  So I applied for the deconstruction gig, didn’t get any of my other internships, and figured I’d stay in Oberlin for the summer and learn what I could.  I stayed (as I’ll explain in future), and I couldn’t be more thankful.

I really don’t know if I’d have gone to that meeting if I hadn’t been prepped for thinking about it by Zoe and Women’s Glib.  There are other threads that brought me here (Power Shift, Obama’s election, reading Bill McKibben and James Hanson, my environmental justice seminar, learning about anthropology and african american studies), but I definitely owe Women’s Glib and all the ladies there a debt of serious gratitude.  The internet and other sources of information and inspiration are great, but at the end of the day Women’s Glib was most compelling as a vehicle for an existing real life community that I was connected to, and it did something I aspire to in this blog by combining the personal, political, and new media to have an impact.  It definitely influenced my course, as I hope Citizen Obie can do if I play it right.  As I’ll detail in future posts, my work with Hard Hatted Women has been among the most fulfilling of my life, and I can’t thank the people who helped me get there enough, and I hope my experience can give back as much as their experience gave to me.

Future posts in this series will continue how I got the job I got (mostly luck), and what it is that we do.  But in terms of getting me in the door and showing me what online writing and advocacy can do- thanks Women’s Glib.  I owe you a solid.


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1 Comment

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One response to “Citizen Obie Goes To Work, Episode II: Origins And Thanks

  1. mirandanyc

    Joel, this is so sweet! Women’s Glib loves you! I’m so impressed we’ve had such a tangible impact — quite a lofty accomplishment.

    Come back to New York to seeeeee us!

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