As I sat listening to the governor speak last week at the Priorities for a Healthy Washington lobby day, a thrill rose from my toes, because I was looking at and listening to some of the most exciting legislation that I had ever witnessed.
The stuff was good. The stuff was really, really good.
Remember that old Yoplait yogurt commercial? This stuff was triple-chocolate-custard-in-a-bathtub good.
The two that piqued my interest and excitement the most were: HB2815/SB656 – Climate Action and Green Jobs and HB2798/SB6483 Local Farms, Healthy Kids.
They both address creating new jobs and keeping money in the state.
Local Farms, Healthy Kids – the farm to school program is designed to help Washington farmers feed Washington kids by changing state procurement of food for school lunches so that locally grown food is favored.
In other words, instead of purchasing the produce that goes into salads at schools from California or Chile, we would buy it from our own Washington farmers.
As it stands now, our local farmers struggle to find markets while our schools import food. This legislation takes the concept statewide.
In addition, the $5 million program funds a fresh food snack in schools with high levels of low-income students, increases the Farmers Market Nutrition Program for needy seniors and families and creates pilot projects for food banks to purchase fresh food directly from Washington farms.
I told you it was good stuff. Seriously, when you have health professionals actually considering bariatric surgery on teens to stave off diabetes, you have to look for better solutions.
Why shrink the stomach of a 13-year-old to the size of a golf ball when we already know that good food will make the difference?
Especially when you consider that every dollar invested in prevention programs saves $10 in healthcare and treatment costs.
If you think that is an amazing piece of legislation, you’ll be even more thrilled with the Climate Action and Green Jobs bill proposed by the governor and co-sponsored by our own local representatives, Derek Kilmer and Pat Lantz.
I am in awe of this bill and the governor, whose goal is to have Washington be the leader in the clean energy technology industry.
We already own the titles of leader in aerospace and computer technologies; she wants us to take the lead here and show D.C. how it’s done.
This proposed pioneering state program will create a Green Collar Job Training Program that prepares Washington workers for family-wage jobs in clean tech.
What does it mean for us? An investment in our people, an increase in business opportunities and training that would increase green-collar jobs from 8,500 currently to 25,000 by 2020 by recognizing the economic opportunities inherent in addressing climate concerns and fossil fuel dependence.
There is always a way, if you give it enough time and thought, to take credit for everything.
Maybe it didn’t hurt to walk up and down those marble staircases last year passing out handouts that read, “The future of Washington is green.” (The original handout had read, “The future of Kitsap is green.”)
Ego gratification aside, it was exciting to listen to industry specialist after industry specialist speak in favor of the bill at the hearings, from the building trades union to wind turbine manufacturers and Microsoft executives.
I was most impressed with Stace Noland, a global marketing strategist with Microsoft, who started a nonprofit for youth promoting eco-prenueurship.
As I listened, I felt like I needed to meet Stace and needed to meet him immediately.
I managed to corner him at a reception that evening and pick his brilliant brain on the future of clean business technology and get a promise that he will come to Kitsap County to speak.
He said some important things that I need to share with you, simply because I know that many of you are afraid of clean technology.
My sense is that you pick apart any talk of it, or of the local clean energy efforts, one of which is SEED, out of fear and ignorance.
If I can help, I am on a short leave of absence from a MBA program in the field, let me know. I can throw enough books and articles your way to make your head spin.
That said, there are some things you may want to ignore.
If I were you, I would ignore all talk of spirituality. It’s heady stuff.
Forget the people who say we are undergoing a spiritual awakening, that the earth’s immune system is kicking in and we are being called to action.
Forget the Achuar people and the Pachamama Alliance and all their talk of the “time of the eagle ending (representing dominance, subjugation and war) and the more peaceful time of the condor beginning.”
Forget those who remind us that the Mayan calendar ends in 2012.
In fact, ignore all the Native American prophecies.
Personally, I find this stuff fascinating and wear a bracelet made by the Achuar connecting me in spirit to these rainforest people, but then again for me, when it comes to spiritual stuff, the quirkier the better.
Although, please don’t tell my good Catholic and fundamentalist friends this. I love and need them, too.
Go ahead and ignore Van Jones, Michael Pollan and Wendell Berry. Ignore Joel Salatin. Well, actually on second thought, don’t ignore Joel Salatin.
Ignore Focus on the Nation, a national effort to make college students aware of global warming issues.
Go ahead and ignore Al Gore, although you probably do want to reduce your carbon footprint regardless, but since my lousy house averages $500 electric bills, who am I to talk?
Ignore those annoying peak oil people. I know some personally and they are very annoying, ne’er-do-wells who seemingly salivate at the thought of the destruction of civilization as we know it.
Definitely ignore them.
But don’t ignore the fact that promoting clean energy technology in Washington and especially in Kitsap County is really about jobs.
Good jobs, that will pay a decent wage, so we don’t have to have over 40 pecent of our civil workforce commuting off the peninsula to the tune of thousands of dollars in lunches bought elsewhere, bridge and ferry tolls and lost time with family.
As Stace says, “You have to decide, when it comes to clean energy technology. Do you want a piece of the pie? Some crumbs? Or a dirty plate?”
Smart people are already slicing up that pie and the pieces are going fast.
There was a conference this past weekend in Portland on clean tech that was filled with billionaires (at least that is what Stace said. I wasn’t included).
I say, that if the governor is offering us a chance for a bite of pie before it’s all gone, we should take it.
For Larry Stokes and the others, who act as guardians of “taxpayer money,” by all means, be thoughtful, be cautious, be thorough, but do not be stupid.
I, for one, do not give any of you permission to be stupid with my children’s future.
Mary Colborn is a Port Orchard resident.