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Empowering Change: Insights from the Train the Trainers (T3) Program Cohort

As we near the end of the Train the Trainers (T3) program, it’s time to examine the transformative journeys of its cohort members. At Green New Deal Housing, we believe in empowering individuals to drive positive change in their communities. This month we’re excited to spotlight the inspiring journeys of T3 cohort members.

Each member of the cohort brought a unique background and perspective to the table. From seasoned builders and skilled carpenters, to aspiring energy experts, their diverse experiences shaped their reasons for joining T3. Among the 16 members of the T3 cohort, five are women. This is a notably high proportion, especially considering that the Minnesota Department of Economic Development reports women make up less than 15 percent of employees in the construction field. I had the privilege of interviewing three members of the T3 cohort to delve into their backgrounds, motivations for joining T3, and the transformative impact the program has had on their approach to training, community development, and building.

One common theme that emerged from our conversations was the program’s “birds eye view” perspective. This perspective is a core strength of the program and something the cohort plans to take with them as they train others. Gaining a "bird's eye view" perspective allows the cohort to examine systems holistically. The program highlighted the interconnectedness of environmental and human health as components of green building, fostering a comprehensive understanding of sustainability. Additionally, cohort members will focus on utilizing a variety of teaching modalities to best support differences in people’s learning styles.

T3 also instilled the importance of considering the entire lifecycle of a project, from initial design stages to final construction. This holistic approach enables them to identify potential challenges and opportunities at every stage, ensuring that sustainability and efficiency are prioritized throughout the process. By adopting this comprehensive perspective, the cohort members are equipped to guide others in creating environmentally-conscious and resilient housing solutions that address the interconnected needs of communities.

Cohort members expressed a deep interest in teaching and sharing their knowledge with others. For some cohort members, this will involve teaching in traditional classroom settings, engaging with high school students to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards. For others, their teaching will take place directly on the job at construction sites, where they will impart crucial skills and knowledge to fellow workers.

One cohort member highlighted the construction industry as its own unique community with its own culture, practices, and norms. He emphasized the importance of on-the-job training, particularly for those often referred to as the "worker bees" or lower-level construction workers. He emphasized that real change in the industry's culture and practices will only occur when these frontline workers are actively involved in the process. This is especially true for the younger generation of workers, who are often more open to learning new techniques and embracing innovative approaches. By engaging these workers directly with training and education initiatives, cohort members will  not only empower them with new skills but also foster a culture of continuous improvement and sustainability within the construction industry. Through their efforts, they are driving meaningful change and laying the groundwork for a more sustainable future.

Similarly, cohort members shared their desire to work more inclusively with various stakeholders in the construction industry, including architects, engineers, builders, plumbers, and other professionals. They emphasized the importance of breaking down silos and fostering better collaboration and understanding among these traditionally often isolated teams.

On a similar note of thinking and building holistically, taking the concept of a home and expanding it to encompass more of a community-oriented perspective has been a transformative shift for many cohort members. Prior to this training, the notion of a home was often limited to being a possession of a family or individual. However, through their experiences in the program, they've come to understand that a home is not just a physical structure, but an integral part of a larger community, meant to endure for generations.

One aspect that resonated strongly with cohort members is the idea of moving away from the traditional notion of homeownership towards a more inclusive concept of "home stewardship." This shift in mindset emphasizes the importance of viewing oneself not as the owner of a property, but rather as a steward who is responsible for caring for and preserving the home for future generations.

By reframing the conversation around homeownership as home stewardship and emphasizing the interconnectedness of homes within a community, cohort members are working to foster a more holistic and sustainable approach to housing. They are passionate about creating homes that not only meet the needs of individual families but also contribute positively to the larger community and environment. Through their efforts, they hope to inspire others to see themselves not just as homeowners, but as stewards of a shared legacy, responsible for creating homes that endure and thrive for generations to come.

If there's a common theme amongst these conversations, it's hope. T3 has empowered participants to become catalysts for change, equipped with the knowledge, skills, and passion to make a meaningful difference in the world of housing and beyond. As we reflect on the insights shared by our T3 cohort members, we're inspired by their dedication, passion, and commitment to building a better future for all. Their stories serve as a reminder that real change begins with empowered individuals working together to create a more sustainable and equitable world.

Stay tuned for more updates and stories of impact from Green New Deal Housing’s workforce training program.

The Train the Trainers program is sponsored by:

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