This week in community development: 4/4/14

Every week, Praxia Partners shares important community-building news. Check out what we’ve been reading this week.

Economic opportunity and development

  • Although the Senate passed a bill allowing extension of unemployment benefits, the House will probably not. Millions of families are hurt by this decision, and states won’t get the infusion of economic activity that unemployment benefits result in. 1 million people lost benefits in December, and every week, over 70,000 more people lose theirs.
  • Women continue to be paid less for equal or superior work in many fields. This week, the largest jewelry company in the country was accused of widespread pay and promotion and discrimination. The New York Times writes of one of the women who have filed suit: “She found the new salesperson, a man who had no retail jewelry experience, was making $15 an hour — over $1.50 more an hour than the woman who was the store’s top seller.” In the vast majority of American families, women are either breadwinners or contribute a full-time paycheck, so this isn’t just a matter that affects a few people– it has huge consequences for tens of millions of American households.
  • Can America succeed if black women can’t? Black women continue to excel at school, college, entrepreneurship, and the general labor force, but their hard work doesn’t always translate into financial security. Think Progress writes:

    But even as they’ve been working harder on their educations and starting more businesses, black women aren’t seeing higher returns. While women working full-time, on average, make 77 percent of what men make, black women make 64 percent of what white men make. In 2010, single black women’s median wealth, or income and assets minus obligations, was just $100, compared to single white women’s $41,500. Almost half had zero or negative wealth. […] And while they are starting more businesses, they get less funding and make less money. “Race and gender bias intersect to limit access to traditional capital for Black women,” the report says. Black small business owners are being left out of small business loans in the aftermath of the recession and they are getting fewer federal contracts. Meanwhile, women-owned companies get a very small share of venture capital funding and investors are more likely to give money to men.

  • Latinos are among the fastest-growing segments of the US population, yet they lag behind in preparing for retirement. (NPR’s Code Switch)
  • Research from the Social Progress Imperative indicates that economic power doesn’t necessarily lead to social progress. For instance, the US had the 2nd largest per capita GDP but ranks 5th in opportunity, 23rd in basic human needs, and 36th on foundations of wellness.

Equity & inclusion

  • LGBTQ rights continue to expand. This week, a federal judge indicated that Ohio will soon have to recognize the marriages of lesbians and gay couples who were wed out of state. Currently, 17 states and Washington, DC welcome same-sex marriages, and judges in Michigan, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia have struck down state bans. Ohio joins Tennessee and Kentucky, where judges have ruled that all legal marriages should be recognized.
  • Meanwhile, Colorado looks at the economic consequences of marriage equality. A study out of UCLA shows that it could infuse an astonishing $500 million into that state’s economy.

Environmental stewardship and solar power

  • Has Panasonic created a solar power plant in a box? The container is portable and houses batteries to allow electricity to be stored for use after the sun goes down, which could prove especially valuable for rural communities that aren’t grid-connected.(Clean Technica)
  • Ghana continues to make solar progress. This week, the nation announced plans for a 400MW thin-film PV power plant. (PV Tech)
  • America loves shared solar! Vermont will soon be home to four new community-owned solar projects. Learn more about community solar. (Brattleboro Reformer)
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a study that shows the scope of climate change– and introduces the concept of “climate justice.” The New York Times writes: “The report, published this week by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, concludes that the world’s poorest people will suffer the most as temperatures rise, with many of them already contending with food and water shortages, higher rates of disease and premature death, and the violent conflicts that result from those problems.” You can check out the study’s fact sheets here.

What do you think was the most important community development story this week? Share your insights and thoughts below or by email.

For news about solar power and sustainability, visit Community Renewable Energy’s blog.

About Holly

Holly Jensen is a writer and poet who has worked with nonprofits and businesses for over a decade. She also serves as editor of The Ghazal Page, an international literary journal.
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