Eco-Intellects Call for Greening in Oakland
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The time has shown itself for us to choose between two alternative destinies: continue the dismay of this third rock from the sun we call home or begin the process of providing a healthy environment for our future generations.

At least, that was the dialogue amid a panel of four eco-intellectuals who articulated the latter view Thursday night in front of roughly 350 people at the Laney College Theater in Oakland.

“This green wave is coming and should lift all our boats…eco-apartheid should not be an option,” said Van Jones, the evening’s facilitator of discussion and founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.

The Oakland Apollo Alliance presented what was called a “solutions salon on ‘green collar’ jobs” where the environmentally savvy panelists included SF State urban studies Professor Raquel Rivera Pinderhughes, Oakland Councilwoman Nancy Nadel, and business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 595, Victor Uno.

The EBC’s Web site defines green as a quick way “to say that something is good for the environment – that it is ‘environmentally sustainable.’” Green collar jobs then belong to the resulting workforce of a publicly supported demand for “a whole bunch of new products, services and technologies that, together, are creating a booming ‘green’ economy.”

Councilwoman Nadel said the government must support green design in general to assure the creation of a green economy and sustain the planet for future generations.

“The mentality that we would lose jobs by making a good environment must be changed because it’s simply not true,” said Nadel. “There will just be new jobs protecting our environment and we must make sure these jobs are for everyone in our community, not just the scientists and those with Ph.D.’s.”

“The primary goal is to move the government to change the way of working,” added Pinderhughes. “The pressure has to be on.”

When asked what she had learned about greening cities from her extensive visits and studies of Cuba’s society, Pinderhughes said national investments are fundamental to any change, including education and transportation funding – something Cuba understands.

“We need national investments across the board and to remember what our priorities are,” said Pinderhughes. “Environmental justice through education.”

The Laney College Theater was packed with people of all ages and occupations. High school and college students, architects, teachers and professors, and environmental group members of all types filled the auditorium.

“I am an architect,” said one audience member, “but I would like to be a green architect. It’s just hard to get my clients to change their mentality to want green design as part of their building plans. Most think it’s too expensive.”

One way to shift this mentality of becoming green as being too expensive is for the government to begin subsidizing such projects, according to the Nadel.

“We subsidize our farmers in this country, why not subsidize green design?” said Nadel.

The Oakland Apollo Alliance has posed a five-step challenge to their city:

• To kick the oil habit
• Harness clean, homegrown renewable energy
• Save energy with high performance buildings
• Green the port of Oakland
• Create green-collar jobs in Oakland

“I have created an initiative that I will bring up to the council next meeting that would end oil dependency in Oakland by 2020,” said Nadel.

An initiative paralleling the Apollo Alliance’s first challenge step of kicking the oil habit by “implementing policies and programs that prioritize local, renewable fuel production and good jobs and make city government operations 100 percent free from oil.”

Education was another theme of the evening as the panelists all agreed education would harness green ideas and diffuse such innovations into the local economy.

The feeling of optimism throughout the Laney College Theater peaked as Van Jones exclaimed that this was such a great gathering of consciousness and rhetorically asked,

“Who can be against us?” he said.

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PHOTO
Dana Ullman | staff photographer
The community of Oakland filled the auditorium at Laney College to discuss sustainable energy, oil independence and the future of Oakland's green economy. The discussion panelist's included SF State Urban Studies professor Raquel Rivera Pinderhughes. Each of the panelists signed the "Apollo Challenge" which lists the goals Oakland hopes to achieve by the year 2020.

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