FRESH DIRT > On Wednesday, Oct. 19, local community leaders and elected officials promoted green job creation at the Live Oak Family Resource Center, which recently became the 10,000th LEED-certified commercial building in the nation. Labor and environmental activists, as well as members of the community, also gathered at the resource center to celebrate the work that has been done and to drum up support for future endeavors.
“This [building] is a good example of a community coming together and saying, ‘We’re going to do this right,’” said Cesar Lara, executive director of the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council. But the fight isn’t over yet, says Lara. “In Watsonville we’re doing clean energy,” he said. “In Santa Cruz, we’re doing the same. But we need more.”
Congressman Sam Farr (D-Carmel) spoke at the event, as well, highlighting the importance small businesses will play in creating green jobs. “Box stores come and box stores go; Big business moves in and big business moves out,” he said. “What stays is small businesses. The jobs we want to create are for the people in this community who want to try an idea.”
Santa Cruz County Supervisor John Leopold was also in attendance. In addition to representing the Live Oak area, Leopold spoke on behalf of the Blue-Green Alliance, a national organization comprised of labor unions and environmental organizations which aims to create green jobs. “It’s important to protect the environment,” said Leopold, “but it’s also important to create jobs. We have 11 percent unemployment in Santa Cruz.”
The BlueGreen Alliance was launched in 2006 by the United Steelworkers Union and the Sierra Club and has grown to include a variety of different unions and organizations numbering more than 14 million members.
The Live Oak Family Resource Center opened its doors in March of this year and offers assistance to family, children and members of the community with food, education and healthcare services. The building, which is located at 1740 17th Ave., features recycled and sustainable materials, as well as water and energy-saving infrastructure. The center spends only $40 per month on energy costs and expects to earn $11,000 over the next five years by the selling excess energy it generates from rooftop solar panels.