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Mayor Kevin Johnson proposes green initiative plan

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Mayor Kevin Johnson proposed his green initiative plans to the public during a press conference Tuesday afternoon at the California Museum. The long-term goal of the plan is to make Sacramento known as the national green leader in economic and environmentally friendly usages. His vision: to transform the region into "Emerald Valley."

"(California is) a state where dreams are made," Johnson said. "I strongly believe Sacramento can be the national leader in the green movement."

Around 300 attendees packed the conference room and were from all walks of life, varying from media to general public. The majority of those in attendance were supportive of the plan.

"I am a very economically cautious person," Sacramento resident Darcy Patterson, 29, said. "It’s exciting to be able to be part of something that’s going to make such a huge difference for generations to come."

There are four main focal points to the plan and five policy areas that will lead the initiative over the next eight months.

The focal points are fostering a regional green economy, creating green collar jobs, attracting and supporting green business through developing policies and practices, and increasing public awareness.

The number of green collar jobs has been on the rise, and Sacramento received $225 million for energy-efficient technical green job training. Over the past year, the region has also witnessed an additional 100 clean tech jobs. Sacramento has an advantage in this industry as companies such as Sacramento Municipal Utility District and Pacific Gas & Electric are located here.

Bringing in more green business to Sacramento can happen by attracting those outside the city and region in the area. Johnson said too many people are discouraged and leaving the state, and that shouldn’t be happening. Instead, Sacramento should become a place of encouragement, and having the Capitol nearby will help make that happen. One example is the edible State Capitol Garden, located at Capitol Park, that First Lady Maria Shriver started this time last year.

The garden serves as an important "resource for teaching important life lessons around healthy living and improving communities," Shriver said.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he backs the green initiative plan 100 percent.

"All great movements started very little," Schwarzenegger said. "Then they expanded like a mushroom….Other cities will be inspired by what Johnson is doing."

According to Schwarzenegger, California has been a leader when it comes reducing the dependency on oil and instead growing a greener economy. However, nothing can happen if nobody takes action.

"Wake up California. Wake up America. Wake up world," he said.

Johnson said the way to make the vision into a reality for everyone to work together through public outreach. The five policy areas that make up the green initiative task force will serve as a way to get people to "walk the walk." These five policy areas include energy, waste and recycling, water and nature, urban design and building, and green and clean technology.

People at Tuesday’s conference had the opportunity of joining one or multiple policy area focus groups. The members of each area will gather at the California Museum every third Tuesday of the month starting in June to create and organize action plans. Anyone is welcome to become a volunteer of a policy area group at any point by attending the meetings. Selected plans will then be put into action, making Sacramento closer to becoming the hub of "Emerald Valley" one day at a time.

Leading the policy area focus group of energy is City of Sacramento Community Development Department employee, Jamie Cutlip. Cutlip said she is hoping to make solar power the main goal of the energy policy area.

"Solar (power) is easy," Cutlip said. "Wind isn’t as easy to adopt."

According to Cutlip, U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar America Cities has granted $200 thousand toward the green initiative’s energy policy area.

"The goal is to make Sacramento a solar city," she said.

Johnson said he will be announcing the action plan during his state of the city address in January.

"I believe history (is being made) at this defining moment," Johnson said. "Someday we’ll look back and see ourselves making history together."

All photographs courtesy of gov.ca.gov

1) Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson

2) California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

3) California First Lady Maria Shriver

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