Personnel Profile: Alejandro Estrada and Abel Habtegeorgies

Representatives from the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights advocated for AB 32 at the Capitol, spreading the message about the need for sustainable jobs. Alejandro Estrada served as one of their representatives. He, along with media relations manager Abel Habtegeorgies talk about the importance of Green Energy for California.  

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Alejandro: I’m a Community Outreach Coordinator from the La Casa Youth Bill. Basically, over the past couple months, I’ve been going into the community and really educating the people about our green economy. What we’re really trying to do is make this change to help out the community and the environment.

What can Green Jobs offer our state and our economy?
Alejandro: Green jobs could offer money. There’s a lot of money, and the state could benefit from that. Not only the state, but also the people. It’s less hazardous. It’s green, you could say, it’s renewable and it’s sustainable.

What can be done to increase California’s Green economy?
Alejandro: To build a Green economy, the proper steps should be helping small business owners that are trying to get their foot in the door, to make their business really flourish. By helping them out, they help other people, by making their businesses grow even more. It’s pretty much about helping out the little guy.

How important is it to protect AB 32?
Alejandro: It’s really important. I actually feel really strongly, and I’m kind of disgusted that people want to kill this bill. There’s so many people that have benefited from AB 32, like me, personally. I’ve been in the La Casa Youth Bill, which is a school out of East Los Angeles that has helped me out. At a time when I wasn’t doing so good, they offered me a job there – a green job – and I’ve been there for 10 months already. I’m doing good.

What are some examples of the new Green jobs that AB 32 helps promote?
Alejandro: They promote solar panels, wind, tankless water heaters, cellulose insulation, which is renewable, made out of various different things that you put in the attic and is better than fiberglass, and also rainwater, which reduces the use of water in the house, and there’s many more projects.  

What are some ways ordinary people can help California gain more green businesses?  
Alejandro: Recycling, helping to recycle, going on the web to find out how they can contribute to green initiatives. AB 32, supporting that, really helps. Getting people to actually learn about it, and advocate for it, and helping.

What’s the connection between the Ella Baker Center’s community efforts and green energy?

Abel: The Green Jobs campaign is one of our cornerstone campaigns. It’s important for us to advocate on behalf of some of the most vulnerable communities here in California. We want to make sure that the economy is accessible for everybody and we believe that Green Jobs are the answer, not only for people, but for the planet. It can lift people out of poverty and give people a second chance. Whether you’re unemployed, whether you’re previously incarcerated, or have some form of barrier to employment, we don’t just want you to have access to any job, but to have access to a sustainable job that can last and can’t be outsourced, that’ll be here in California.

California has unfortunately fallen behind in a lot of different categories when it comes to education. The recession has hit really bad, compared to a lot of countries as well. But the one shining spot for California is its green economy. We’ve got to hold that up, we’ve got to keep that going, we’ve got to keep stories like Alejandro’s at the forefront. We’ve got to make sure that people know that this green economy is important for folks because it will keep us high up there, it will keep us sustainable and it’ll keep us an example for the rest of the world.

Alejandro: California will benefit because a lot of the oil companies are not really based here. If they can harvest the energy of the sun, we have a lot of land here. I’ve heard of guys making a lot of money, off of not selling their land, but letting companies borrow their land to use the sun and solar panels to get energy. That’s a business right there. It’s crazy — they can make a lot of money just doing that.

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