Eco-Job Faire at SDSU Works Toward Green Economy

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Story and photos by Gayle Early

Amanda Costa and Erin Lannon of SDSUÕs Enviro-Business

12, 2008 (SAN DIEGO) —
you’re going the wrong way!” Amanda Costa, former co-president
of SDSU’s Enviro-Business Society called out to students streaming down
Aztec Center steps. A “green-career forum” was about to start,
where the Society, also known as “Club
,” would spill information on the top ten cities to find green
jobs, salaries, and info on how to “put green in your pocket.” About
15 vendors, including businesses and nonprofits, lined the causeway below to
discuss specific eco-opportunities and internships, all part of Society’s
eco-job faire at SDSU campus. ECM was there to check out a few of
the tables.

Holly Hellerstedt, Vice President of SDSU's Enviro-Business
Eat locally sign

Most of the vendors at Wednesday’s
faire were nonprofits, although a few companies, such as MohrPower
, GE’s
Ecomagination Projects
, Swinerton Management & Consulting
and their Green Consulting Services/LEED department, CB
Richard Ellis
’s Sustainability Practice Group, and Fuel
were there to attract interns, applicants, and offer information
about their green services or products.

Jacob Hall manned the Peace Corps’ table. “We do a little bit
of everything,” said Hall.  “Mostly on the grass-roots level.”

One project is building solar ovens.  “Most volunteers figure out
how to make them using what’s local and sustainable,” Hall said. “That
might be with tin in Nicaragua (you can cook a pot of beans in about six hours,
no trees killed) or molded plastic in Eastern Europe, depending on the type
of local industry. Another place might use bamboo.” And no one gets kicked
off the island.

“Three San Diego-area volunteers arrived in Kenya just today,” Hall
observed. “One was a retiree, one was right out of college, and another
lady was mid-career, three very different people.  Their training site
(where they learn Swahili and get to know the culture) is at the foot of Kilimanjaro—tough
place to live for three months,” Hall laughed. (Harmony, one of the women,
has a website if
anyone wants to track her African adventure.)

Over half of his older recruits (folks over 50), come from East County, he
told ECM. The Peace Corps snags about a third of its people right
out of college, mostly business students.  “Two years in that banking,
insurance, sales jobs—they see those old bald guys and they’re
like, ‘I don’t want to be one of them in a cubicle waiting for
my next two-week vacation to Mexico.’”

The San Diego chapter of the Surfrider
boasts the largest membership in its national organization
of 7,000 members. Volunteer Coordinator and Chapter Secretary Roxy Carter
said they especially need interns to monitor City Council meetings and help
shape policy and political campaigns, intern engineers to help research responsible
desalination programs, and interns and volunteers interested in helping protect
Southern California beaches.

Nancy Cohee of MohrPower Solar

solar solutions to overheating energy bills, Nancy Cohee of MohrPower Solar
explained a pilot program in San Diego County that offers a State rebate of
up to $1,500 for homes and $75,000 for commercial solar water heating, not
to mention a federal tax rebate of 30%, for up to $2,000 credit and 30% tax
credit with no limit in 2009 for solar electricity. Information is available
through the California Public Utilities Commission’s California
Solar Initiative
and the San Diego nonprofit California
Center for Sustainable Energy

Cohee noted that with the solar industry boom, community colleges need skilled
educators to train solar specialists and installers.

Urban Corps Supervisor Amanda Sweet, with Leo, member
and student of the John Muir Charter School

Drivers heading by the Mission Dam in Santee, toward the end of Highway 52,
might have noticed youths ripping out pesky nonnatives, such as bamboo and
orundo, a giant invasive reed. Urban
, a nonprofit program for at-risk youth coupled with the John Muir
Charter School, have urban forestry programs, a graffiti removal hotline, conservation,
recycling, and a fire restoration grant to replant Santa Ysabel and Escondido
among its many programs. Their team-member programs are available for hire
for contract work.

Corie Lopez of food&water watch discusses alternatives
to bottled water

Corie Lopez of food&water watch discusses alternatives to bottled water
Urging people to “take back the tap,” Corie Lopez, California Water
Organizer with Washington, D.C.-based food&water
talked about alternatives to drinking and serving bottled water,
no matter how big the bash (think ‘water stations’). Her organization
seeks interns to help with their restaurant campaign, getting eateries to stop
serving bottled water, even offering college credit for field organizer positions. “It
seems to be a little bit tougher here in San Diego. We’ve had campaigns
in other cities that have done really well with restaurants,” she said, “but
here it seems to be a…problem,” she laughed.

Holly Hellerstedt, Vice President of SDSU's Enviro-Business

”—whose three e’s stand for “ecology, ethics,
and economics,”—is an on-campus nonprofit environmental advocacy
group that organized the forum. They also organized an Earth Day fair at SDSU
last spring, with over 70 businesses attending, and will host another this