Green Core Training students graduate with skills and credentials for good jobs in the green economy.

Green Core graduates are ready to make change, but they need city leaders to listen

Kiania knows all about sustainable transportation: she walks and takes the bus or the streetcar everywhere she needs to go, and she is a student in KC Can Compost’s Green Core Training program, where she's learning how environmental systems work together for the good of people and the planet. But the streetcar’s service area is limited, and sometimes the bus arrives early, late, or just never shows at all. So Kiana starts her commute two hours before she needs to be in class, just in case.

Kiania’s story isn’t unique among her Green Core classmates. Gerome feels privileged to live near a bus stop, but if the transfer doesn’t line up just right, he has to wait half an hour for the next bus. And George was once stuck miles away from home on a dangerously cold winter night after bus service ended before he could make it to the bus stop. 

“I wish people would have more compassion for those of us who don’t drive,” George said. “It feels like people don’t see us as worthy of dignity if we don’t have a car.” 

This cohort of KC Can Compost’s Green Core Training program is meeting at the Central Library in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, which is a relatively central location for the students, most of whom don’t drive. The students learn about water, waste, building, energy, food, agriculture, and transportation systems, and earn credentials to secure good jobs in the green economy. 

As future leaders in the industry, they’re always brainstorming solutions: a robust transit network with buses that run more frequently on more routes. More public restrooms for people who walk, bike or take the bus. And connected, protected bike infrastructure that connects people to where they are already going.

“I would like to bike to class,” said Anjana, who lives in Kansas City, KS and drives in with her classmate Muna. “But the highways separate me from downtown, and the trail under the bridge is scary.” The trail Anjana is referring to is a lonely stretch of the Riverfront Heritage Trail under I-670, bookended by the truck traffic in the West Bottoms of KCMO and highway on-ramps of Strawberry Hill in KCK. Her classmates agree that large vehicles and unpredictable driver behavior can make bicycling a frightening experience. 

“I like bike trails that are off the street,” said Jason. “Or at least they should have those posts to protect people biking. If a driver hits those white posts, they’ll mess up their car.” 

The Green Core students we interviewed graduated in April, surrounded by family, friends, and KC Can Compost staff and volunteers. Several of them already had secured jobs or internships. The solution-oriented mindset they developed in class has them eager to make change in their community. “We know how hard it is to get around Kansas City because we experience it,” said George. “And we know how to make it better for a lot of people.”

Green Core Training cohorts meet in different locations around the metro to better serve students with limited transportation options. The March 2023 group met at the Central Library in downtown KCMO.
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