We Want Green, Too! is a grassroots frontline community-led organization founded in 2007 and officially established as a non-profit in 2014. The idea for WWG2 began when our Founder, Gloria J. Lowe was working for a local advocacy law firm at the Detroit Veterans Center. Ms. Lowe listened to heart-wrenching stories and wishes from Veterans about returning to their community as productive individuals. When asked what they needed to feel “whole” again (what would it take to inspire their transformation and the life they wanted?) the Veterans shared a vision of doing “good work” with their hands. Thus, WWG2 was born with the mission to create and develop programs to support the transition of Veterans with PTSD to become self-sufficient community leaders.
Early on, our organization focused on building projects with new skills learned by Veterans. We started with an experimental energy-efficient renovation for a home in Jackson, Michigan with four Veterans, and after a successful renovation, the Veterans responded positively and voiced their desire to learn green building skills. After this experiment, we returned to Detroit’s East Side to learn techniques for weatherizing a blighted 2200 square foot home with an energy-efficient retrofit that reduces the cost of utilities and increases health by creating healthy, clean indoor air spaces. Using green and recycled materials, and with the expertise of retired contractors and the courage of men who would not give up, we designed an affordable East Side home that has since been viewed by people around the country and world. Our goal was to present our community with a model for quality living built by employing its own members; what we achieved was not only this goal, but the ability to dream even bigger.
The COVID-19 pandemic presented unprecedented challenges, but it also brought people together. Every day people became first responders, creating mutual aid organizations that sought to help others in the spirit of humanity. Inspired by our community, we saw clearly the work ahead of us and the needs of the people. We are training workers with General contractors both in the classroom and hands-on to restore the blighted houses we own to create a community space for Veterans and East Side community members. This restoration is part of an effort to create community resilience and a space for programming that meets community needs.
We have new members with exciting ideas and new collaborations to help us turn our community dreams into reality. We will continue to build community resilience.