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Van Jones: Focus On Green-Collar Jobs

Daniel Tedford

Civil rights activist and Oakland native Van Jones came to OCC Thursday to talk about color and America - not black and white, but green.0209 06

Jones spoke to students as part of "Focus the Nation," a teach-in hosted at the community college raising awareness about global warming.

Jones is the founder of the Ella Baker Center, which fights against human rights abuses.

He flew down to speak at the school, not just about saving the world, but how saving the world can save jobs.

Green-collar jobs, as Jones refers to them, are a new opportunity for those getting an education and looking to join the workforce. Not only that, but these jobs can save an economy by providing jobs to the poor, according to Jones.

"You can't take this building and ship it to India," said Jones about refitting buildings to become more energy efficient. Jones envisions "a green economy that fights pollution and poverty."

These aren't pipe dreams, Jones said.

"It's already happening," he said.

It takes three months to get solar panels installed in northern California, and it's not because they don't have enough to go around, Jones said.

"We don't have enough workers trained to install," Jones said. "It's a labor shortage."

Jones' speech centered around the ideals of the daylong event at OCC - finding practical solutions to environmental issues.

Teachers conducted workshops on the economy, science, politics, and policy of global warming while green vendors set up in the quad to discuss issues and potential jobs.

Shane Cutting, 31, is the vice-president of the Student Senate at OCC as well as the president of the Sierra Club on campus, which was one of the event's sponsors.

According to Cutting, the student government endorsed Focus the Nation last semester and organized the event with the help of the Sierra Club.

"It was a lot of groups coming together to make it happen," Cutting said. Cutting, other students and faculty teamed up to attract a crowd for Thursday's event. When it came to finding Jones, it was chance for OCC.

"We saw him in Washington, D.C.," Cutting said. "We decided we would try to bring him."

When they called Jones' office his schedule was filled up (he is going to be doing "The Colbert Report" in a couple of weeks) but Jones found a way to make it.

"They need speakers to get them excited," Jones said.

Copyright © 2008 Daily Pilot

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