The first lady spoke yesterday and then picked up the hammer at the Youthbuild Americorps Green Homebuilding Service Day on the National Mall. My friend was one of the trainers and told me about Michelle's inspiring talk.
Michelle left a corporate law career track to get involved in city governance and started an Americorps service program in Chicago's south side. It's clear from her talk that both Obamas share a deeply engrained ethos of service. Barack Obama kicked off his presidency with a National Day of Service, and the recent appointment of Van Jones cements the strong link between the emergent green economy and the social justice movement, which seeks to alleviate poverty by providing jobs and community development at the same time.
The mission of Youthbuild is to "...unleash the intelligence and positive energy of low-income youth to rebuild their communities and their lives." And they have now incorporated training in green building, which includes everything from special wood framing techniques and insulation systems to water-efficient plumbing and solar panel installation.
Michelle applauded the organization:
...the evolution of your work to include green building, something that we're talking more and more about as a nation, energy-saving practices, and environmental awareness, it demonstrates how YouthBuild has endured as a leading non-profit organization.