Van Jones hypes Greenwise Sacramento

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Sacramento Residents have an opportunity to make their region a national leader for green technology development, according to author and activist Van Jones, who received a standing ovation for his speech at Mayor Kevin Johnson’s second public meeting for Greenwise Sacramento.

"The kind of environmental solutions that make sense for Sacramento make sense for America," Jones said.

Over 400 area residents attended the Tuesday afternoon meeting to listen to the former special adviser to the Obama administration. He said that he has travelled all over the country for green events, and he was impressed with Sacramento’s.

"Usually (a city) will have the mayor, they’ll have a press conference and one green intern, and that’s their whole agenda," Jones said. "I think the most important thing to say is that you have a mayor in Kevin Johnson that is totally breaking the mold…This is a mayor that is showing regional leadership."

With unemployment still high in the area, Jones sympathized with local leaders and residents.

"It’s tough at the local level, you get all the pain," he said. "You see all the impact of bad economic policy and bad trade policy."

Jones also said it is important to integrate the lower-income communities into the action plan.

"Think about Oak Park, they should be at the center of this agenda," he said. "If you’re an aluminum can you got a great chance in Sacramento, but what about a child in Oak Park?"

Jones ended his speech by stressing that this is an initiative both conservatives and progressives can get behind.

Jones wote “The Green Collar Economy.” Copies of the book were being sold by Underground Books in the lobby of the Byron Sher auditorium in the Cal/EPA headquarters where the meeting was held.

The meeting was held to boost awareness for Mayor Johnson’s green initiative. The initiative has five policy focus areas: energy, waste and recycling, water and nature, urban design and green building, and green and clean technology. Each of these issue areas are led by an individual selected by the mayor.

Over the next several months, an action plan will be developed for the region, including six counties and 22 cities, that Mayor Johnson will reveal in January of 2011. The mayor concedes that getting elected officials to work together across city boundaries will be tough, but he said he is determined to make it work.

"My vision is really to transform Sacramento into the Emerald Valley," Johnson said. "Why can’t we, as Sacramento, be the leader when it comes to sustainable technology?"

He said Sacramento is over-reliant on government jobs and real estate, and that this initiative will help shift our the workforce into profitable, enduring job sectors.

Dean Steven Currall from the University of California, Davis, Graduate School of Management was there to speak about his role as the leader for the green and clean technology policy area. He stressed that central to the entire initiative was job creation in the Sacramento region that would involve several different components of the community.

"It’s very much an ecosystem model that involves higher education" as well as innovators, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and other parts of the business community, Currall said.

Currall’s responsibility is to lead a team of individuals that will focus on market creation and demand, regional business opportunities, finance, education and innovation based entrepreneurship.

The mayor said he felt that the event was a huge success and wants residents to get involved.

"I would beg people in Sacramento to go on the Greenwise website, sign up for the initiative and come to the monthly meetings. If you just start there, we’ll plug you into a policy area, and we’ll teach you how you can be helpful," he said.

Marie Brown, 52, from Eco-Chic Design in Lincoln has been an environmentalist for more than 30 years and came to learn more about the initiative and to hear Jones speak.

"I actually was a lawyer,” she said. “I decided to switch from that to something where I felt I could…help people improve the health in their own homes and their workplaces with healthy interiors."

Executive Director Simeon Gant of Green Technical Education and Employment, a program where young people can learn about career opportunities in green technology, brought two of his students to learn more about the initiative. He said he sees a clean environment as an impotent asset to leave to future generations.

"Our grandchildren and great grandchildren are going to wonder how we could allow our country and our world be degraded by the way we were building, the way we were living. I thought that was very important," he said.

  • M Johnson

    Nice, but I sure wish all this energy (pardon the pun) was being put into youth development and public safety.

    • Harry Osibin

      Isn’t there a connection between all of these concerns? Are these concepts mutually exclusive? Sacramento Local Conservation Corps trains “at-risk” youth in green building or rebuilding. There are other NGOs doing similar projects.

  • You guys should stop complaining cuz one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed give it a try u guys are too hard on democrats they went to college and we voted for most of these if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. as for obama people are just tryin to make it look like america made a mistake he has done things to help us and we had a full 8 years of a terrible president and i will be so as happy as ever when a obama fixes bush’s mistakes. You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price from . obama has to put up with the world judging his every move and trying to fix the mess we are in we are lucky anyone wants to be our president. STOP COMPLAINING AND GIVE HIM A BREAK. i wanna see one of yall do what he has done. some people are just so ignorant.

  • Jon Mortimer

    Is there anybody that’s skeptical of Sacramento’s ability to be a leader in green technology? Or just skeptical of this whole initiative? The support was overwhelmingly positive at the meeting, but I’d like to hear the other side of things if anyone wants to share.

  • There are a lot of green companies leaving California for the same reasons that “non-green” companies leave — high taxes, excessive regulations, a legislature hostile to businesses. Go to “Calif. Business Exodus ‘Explodes’ in 1st Half – Total Doubles Entire Previous Year” and search for the word “green” to see how many green companies have left in 2010 and 2009. That story is at

    • Jon Mortimer

      Thanks for that link. A member of the audience raised some concern about whether or not AB 32 was right for Califronia and, thus, Sacramento. Jones didn’t address the details os AB 32, but he did say that Prop 23 is meant to drive green businesses out of California, or that that would be the result of it. I don’t know enough to comment on the details of either pieces of legislation though.

  • Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!!!

  • bye bye Sacpress

    Jon, Great article first off. (fix the “impotent asset” near the bottom though :)

    I guess I would need some clarification on what it means to be a “leader in green technology”. i think that would mean creating an environment where green technology is researched, developed, and manufatured locally, and is of a quality that it would be consumed nationwide and worldwide.

    If that’s the goal, I guess you need to start somewhere, but it is mostly a pipe dream. You simply have to answer what Sacramento can offer in this area compared to Silicon Valley, Research Triangle NC, Singapore, Shanghia….

    Technology focused higher education – Average
    High Tech labor pool – Average/Poor
    Venture Capital – Poor
    Regional Alliance and Agreement – Poor
    History of support for technology – Fair to Poor
    Cost of Living – High
    Regulatory hurdles – High
    Dysfunctional State Govt – High

    Frankly any US region will have a hard time competing internationally. Asia (China, Singapore, Taiwan) not only have the venture capital and low barriers for high tech business, they also have the need (population, pollution, high energy cost). America will always have smart entrepeneurs, and the west coast will always have more than our share. But Van Jones is dreaming if he thinks the Sacramento region really has the tools to become a “silicon valley” of green tech.

    Maybe “leader in green technology” means something else than what I am thinking. Like 80% of houses having high efficiency windows or something, and cleanest sewer water in the state. That seems to be what I see on the Greenwise site. In that case… who cares…

    • Jon Mortimer

      Thanks for the comment cogmeyer. What is the “impotent asset” you are referencing?

  • bye bye Sacpress

    In Simeon Gant’s quote near the end of the article.

    Or maybe he actually meant “impotent asset” as some kind of birth control device… who knows!

    • Jon Mortimer

      Ha! I see it now. Yeah, that was “important asset.” Thanks for catching that.


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