If you’ve spent time on planet Earth recently, you may have heard the term “green-collar jobs.” President Obama says they will play a key role in rebuilding our economy, Time published an article analyzing the term’s meaning, and author/activist Van Jones wrote a New York Times best-seller on the subject.
So…How exactly does one tap into this new, sustainable business trend?
To find out, you may want to take a little field trip – kind of like when Luke Skywalker went to Yoda’s swamp to learn to use the Force, except you get to go to Berkeley, eat at green restaurants, talk to successful business owners, and watch as an out-of-commission railroad car is smashed to pieces and recycled.
Oh, and instead of a little green creature (what is Yoda exactly?), your guide will be an informed, enthusiastic human with East Bay Green Tours.
Intrigued? Read more after the break.
Since September 2008, East Bay Green Tours has conducted monthly excursions around Berkeley and the East Bay area, highlighting ways the community has addresses environmental and economic issues.
“The tours are content dense, but they are also interactive,” says Emmet Brady, the company’s strategic development coordinator.
Tour attendees generally eat or snack at green restaurants, and attend sessions where they can watch lotions being made (and sample the results), or how a boutique countertop is crafted from recycled glass. They can pedal a bike that generates electricity or visit a biodiesel distribution center.
Some tour attendees approach the tours as fun, informative excursions, but others are looking for inspiration. Many work in either sustainable industries or are planning to switch to a green-collar field. And one attendee enjoyed what she saw so much that she relocated to the Bay Area shortly thereafter.
Learning about successful eco-businesses is a large part of the tour, but the overarching goal of East Bay Green Tours is to demonstrate how the Berkeley area works as a community – something many other cities could learn from.
“Cities aren’t quite sure how to promote sustainability yet, because it means they have to massively overhaul their own systems,” says Brady. “There is a strong degree of integrity in our community, as well as cross-pollination of business. One of our partners is the Sustainable Business Alliance, a non-profit that helps to create a network of camaraderie. And many parts of the Bay Area – especially Berkeley – have networking and awards events that unite the community.”
Tours (full day $90, half-day $50) are currently conducted on the last Wednesday of each month, but there are plans to add additional tours that include the surrounding communities such as Emeryville, Oakland, and Richmond.