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Dorian Gaskin: Community activist, green jobs advocater

Dorian Gaskin (photo by Korey Green)

Dorian Gaskin operates the Outsource Center at 1649 Fillmore Avenue, which provides job training in construction fields, especially those skill sets needed for so-called “green jobs”—weatherization, solar panel installation, etc.—which will be in great demand in years to come.

AV: How do you plan on creating green jobs?

Gaskin: We’re making our center a green university site via Energy Management Solutions. We’re going to teach solar panels, geothermal, and weatherization to start creating jobs in the green sector. We have all the certifications now, we’re ready to roll.

AV: What need is this going to fulfill?

Gaskin: Weatherization is going to be huge solar panels and solar film installation, which is going to be big, and geothermal, which is going to be good.

AV: Are you receiving any state or federal money?

Gaskin: We haven’t received a dime. We’ve been doing it out of pocket. We haven’t received any funding since March of last year. If we received funding, that would be great. But if we don’t, we’re just going to keep pushing until we run out of money.

AV: How long has this been going on?

Gaskin: We’ve been doing it since January. This class will be our second graduating class [kids 18 and up]. [It’s a] 10-week course. Overall, we’re about at 77 percent placement in a bad economy. One of the things that we’ve done is get our [own contractor’s license] now, and we’ve got a few trucks, and we’re going to become contractors, so we can hire.

AV: Do you feel like there’s a lot of awareness about your program?

Gaskin: No, I don’t feel there’s enough. I just want to see predominantly women and minorities get their fair share of these jobs. A lot of times when work comes, we’re either in school or in training and we miss out, but now we have an opportunity to have people prepared before the work actually gets here.

AV: Which neighborhoods will benefit the most from this?

Gaskin: Probably the Lower West side and the East side of Buffalo. That’s where people are really hurting the most. Take some of these poor people and help them weatherize their homes, then they actually have more income that they can spend every day. We save a little money and make a little money; we can send our kids to better schools. Send them to better schools so they have a chance of being better people. That’s the whole goal. It’s not a one-night fix, you’re talking about for the next 10, 15, maybe 20 years.

AV: Who else have you been working with?

Gaskin: PUSH Buffalo, the Urban League, Hispanics United, the Basics, and Buffalo Impact. This is not just an Outsource thing; it’s because of a collaboration with everybody that we’re going to be able to do this.

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