On Saturday, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom hosted a discussion on his radio show about the “Green Collar Economy.” Appearing on the show were Van Jones, founder of Green for All and author of a new book on the topic, and Dave Llorens, founder of 1Block Off the Grid.
You can listen to the podcast here: here.
Mayor Newsom’s guests had a lot to say about how the new green jobs sector of the economy is bending the corner from “inspiration to implementation”.
Dave Llorens’ 1Block Off the Grid (1BOG) is a nationwide consumer purchasing program for solar (see most recent post on 1BOG here). By negotiating a bulk price, navigating the complex process of buying solar, and giving participants safety in numbers, 1BOG aims to dramatically increase the number of homes that go solar. In the San Francisco pilot program last August, 1BOG negotiated up to a 43% savings for participants, accounting for 20% of solar sign ups in the city last quarter. Since 1BOG has expanded to 20 cities across the country, over one thousand people have signed up.
Check 1BOG’s website to see if 1BOG has come to your city.
On the show and in his bestselling book, “The Green Collar Economy“, Jones highlights how both parties have believed the fallacy that our economy can be based on consumption more than production, credit instead of savings and thrift, and environmental destruction rather than ecological restoration. Solar installation jobs are local, provide career paths in a growing industry, and increase renewable energy consumption. These “green jobs” also create opportunities for people who have been locked out of the industrial economy.
Llorens agrees. “We are the rubber hitting the road, we are exploding the market for solar energy in these cities, and we are creating demand for jobs.” The solar companies selected for both 1BOG’s pilot program and the current campaign hire installers from city workforce development program, which offers a bigger rebate through the San Francisco Solar Tax Incentive Program.
National and local subsidies for solar enable 1BOG to exist. Both of Mayor Newsom’s guests assert that public sector involvement is a crucial component to green jobs and renewable energy. But for Van Jones, a new energy plan that does not simultaneously relieve poverty is a missed opportunity.
Who will get these jobs? Are there pathways out of poverty into prosperity? The big opportunity we have here is to build a green economy that Dr. King would be proud of. This is not our great-grandmother’s economy that we are trying to fix in terms of inclusion and equity. This is one we are going to build this ourselves, in our lifetime, so let’s [build this new clean energy sector] with inclusion built in.
Natasha is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with an Urban Studies degree. A native Philadelphian, she recently moved to San Francisco to experience the West Coast and gain a new perspective. Natasha is committed to social and environmental justice, and enjoys writing about urban environments. Down the road Natasha plans on pursuing a degree in city planning and working to improve slum conditions in the developing world.