By Johnny Magdaleno.
Charleshon Goodman was born and raised in a housing project out in Hunters Point, the historically African-American enclave along San Francisco’s southeastern edge. The neighborhood is well known for its legacy of heavy industrial pollution, but Goodman’s one of a new generation of local youth who’s getting green education and a paycheck from environmental jobs.
The 21-year-old went through a training program called Roots of Success, offered by Hunters Point Family, a community organization, when he was 16. The program includes 10 weeks of learning about wind farming, solar farming, sustainable agriculture and other green practices, and promotes more than 125 different green careers in the process. At the end, students get a certificate honored by employers throughout the Bay Area. They’re also paid to attend.
Now, Goodman helps Hunters Point Family run a community garden in his neighborhood. He says the work is changing lives.
“It’s definitely helping the youth open up and make those day-to-day changes,” he says, citing healthier eating habits and an awareness of how they can reduce pollution. “Working with them you get to understand some of the challenges they face in their housing, and how the outside environment can extend into the home.”