For far too long, sustainability has been painted with the broad brushstrokes of environmentalism associated with the plight of wildlife thousands of miles away.
While we love and respect nature in all of its forms, when we discuss sustainability through our EcoDistrict Pivot Plan, our core focus is the smart, strategic, sustainable growth of the entire community. The Millvale Library strives to create programs, projects, and ideas that have co-benefits. It is our belief that what is truly environmentally sustainable is good for people, and what is good for people has to be good for the environment.
A core value of sustainability is equity. The Webster Dictionary describes equity as ‘fairness or justice in the way people are treated’. An example of equity, or inequity is when a community experiences economic growth. If that economic growth leaves community members behind, or makes their community too unaffordable, that economic growth isn’t fair, or as we would say it, it isn’t economically equitable. Another example might be an industrial plant that pollutes the air or water and makes people who live or work around it sick. While there may be jobs for some, it’s not fair or environmentally equitable if it’s making neighbors sick.
At the Millvale Library, we believe that creating more opportunities for education will lead to increased opportunities for our community members in the job market — pushing back economic inequities, and helping to keep Millvale more affordable.
Our partnership with organizations such as the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council (GPLC) is a key example of the Millvale Library’s efforts to help create opportunities for our community members.
“Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council is a national leader in adult education and family literacy. They provide educational programs to 4,600 adults and families each year in the Pittsburgh area.” In addition to GED courses, the GPLC also provides classes for those who speak English as a second language (not at the Millvale Library).
Creating access to and opportunities for education is one of the primary strategies for addressing both economic and environmental equity within communities. Census data shows that in Millvale, about 20.9% of adults 18 and up live in poverty conditions. The data also shows that 11.1% of adults over the age of 25 do not have a high school diploma or GED.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016 the national average earnings for people with a high school diploma or GED is $692 per week, while earnings for people without a diploma or GED were on average $504 per week. That’s a difference of over $9,500 per year. In addition, the Bureau also finds that unemployment rates are nearly twice the national average for people without a high school diploma/GED.
When rubber meets the road, it means connecting people to the resources they need to be able to get the jobs that they want in modern industries that do not harm the environment and will not leave our community behind. This means partnering with organizations around our region who are working towards helping people build their careers, and also developing programs like the Millvale Teen Solar Fellowship to connect our community members to the job opportunities and industries of the future.
The GPLC GED program at the Millvale Library is on summer break, and will resume in the fall! If you are interested in learning more about the GPLC or our other programs, either as a student or to volunteer, please visit us! Don’t have the time to volunteer but want to make a difference? The Millvale Library and the GPLC are both non-profit organizations that rely on donations from people like you. Click here to donate to the Millvale Library, and here to make a donation to the GPLC.
No matter what your walk of life, no matter where you’re from, if you want to be an agent of positive change, you’re welcome to come learn and be a part of the Millvale Community Library.