Civilian Conservation Corps
The United States Civilian Conservation Corps is a very relevant example in history which is beneficial to learn from. From 1933-42 three million voluntary enrolees signed up to living in rural camps and carrying out emergency conservation work. The economic depression had created high unemployment levels especially in the young. At this time America was suffering from great swathes of environmental degradation in the form of soil erosion and flooding, caused by intensive farming methods and deforestation.
During the 9 years President Franklin Roosevelt over saw millions of acres of cropland saved and over a billion trees planted. It was not only a practical response to the degraded lands; it also re-skilled the young people, and changed their life opportunities and their outlook by taking them out of the cities. It created a good example to the rest of the community by creating national resources for the benefit of future generations. The Civilian Conservation Corps became the most popular New Deal policy of the time. Of course the state was headed by an enlightened politician who applied its resources to a massive crisis.
What should we learn from the CCC?
The lesson to be learnt for now is that it was a practical response to a massive social, economic and environmental problem. It took millions of young people out of the cities and trained them for sustainable skills, skills that changed their lives. It became the social movement of the day, for any young person, it was the place to be. Some called it the birth of a new environmentalism in America. Of course there were aspects of the CCC we would not see as appropriate, it was organised by the U.S army and other state agencies. A DIY version in our current context is more realistic, creating a smaller working example which can grow. It is the right model for addressing the massive re-skilling project which is required to solve climate change.