Vernon Hill, a Got Green grassroots leader, enjoys working with his hands. He has worked in construction, maintenance, and aerospace industries, and has his AA in Construction Management. This past year, Vernon combined his construction work experience with his deep commitment to community and racial justice. He has since been a strong community voice for fairness in community hiring on construction jobs.
Vernon emerged as a leader after being invited to sit as a founding member on the South Seattle Jobs Committee. The committee grappled with how to increase employment for many in their communities.
“I’m helping to create a strategy to increase community awareness…citizens should be aware of how their tax dollars are being used and have a say in it. As a Black male, I am really concerned about the racism affecting the opportunities for jobs in the construction industry and how that impacts the South Seattle community. I want to help others like me get training and employed in construction,”
Over the course of 2012, Vernon and his committee members developed a multi-level strategy. They moved from getting one member a local construction job, to demanding and receiving a public response from the Mayor when a major neighborhood project included no local hiring. Finally, Vernon served as the community voice in a high-stakes negotiation with the City of Seattle and local building trades unions for community local hire on a major construction project downtown.Vernon’s tenacity and commitment to building up the capacity of others sets him apart as an emerging leader.
As the South Seattle Jobs Committee embarks on an ambitious campaign to win a city-wide local hiring policy, Vernon will continue to be a critical leader and trainer for others just joining the movement.
“I strive for consistency as a leader in Got Green and in my community. When I say I’m going to be there, I show up and I’m willing to do the work. I do it because I want to come forth myself and speak up for what’s right. But I really do it so that others feel they can come forth too… I want to show others in my community how they can be leaders and use their voice and act for positive change. Since joining the South Seattle Jobs Committee I have been able to do that on my own, and have been representing my community at the negotiation table with the city. I was really able to elevate my voice and the voices of others like me through this process.”
(From Got Green’s Annual Organizing Report; 2012: The Year of Emerging Leaders, by Tori Loe and Kristyn Joy)