Can Small be Green? – A Panel Discussion Building for California’s New Majority

greenlining instituteBringing businesses into the “green” tent is challenging even under the best of circumstances, with sustainability initiatives commonly taking a back seat to immediate profit concerns and the everyday tumult of commerce.  But small businesses, especially ethnic small businesses, are often left out of the public policy conversation and partnership opportunities that would help them go green.  I attended this thought-provoking panel discussion, “Can Small be Green? – A Panel Discussion Building for California’s New Majority,” sponsored by The Greenlining Institute in partnership with 89.3 KPCC , which focused on how ethnic small businesses can help anchor California’s environmental policies in local communities.  The Greenlining Institute is a national policy, organizing, and leadership institute working for racial and economic justice.

The panel, moderated by C.C. Song, Green Assets Fellow at The Greenlining Institute, included: Marzia Zafar, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Richard Tom, Southern California Edison (SCE), Anh-Tuan Le, Vietnamese American Chamber of Orange County, and Scarlett Noguera, Los Kitos.  They addressed the opportunities and challenges of integrating small businesses into California’s continuing environmental leadership.   Despite California’s leadership on environmental and clean energy initiatives, and its growth in investment in green technology, there remains a gap in the ability of small businesses to leverage government outreach, diversity, corporate partnerships, and strategic sustainable investments in disadvantaged communities.  Ms. Noguera from Los Kitos provided perspective on the unique challenges of rural, minority business owners in navigating among limited resource opportunities.  Ms. Zafar and Mr. Tom, from CPUC and SCE respectively, offered suggestions to increase access to environmentally responsible and financially stimulative policies such as supplier diversity, smart grid, and energy management that drive economic development.  Mr. Le offered insights into some of the infrastructure challenges and unique cultural nuances that must be addressed as we advance the conversation.

“Can Small Be Green” was a reminder that just as there are many constituencies in the sustainability arena, there are pathways and resources available.  One of the most important “take-aways” was the need to enhance outreach and communication efforts about programs and needs to help bridge that gap.  Thanks to 89.3 KPCC and The Greenlining Institute for providing this forum.

Small businesses, especially ethnic ones, are often left out of the public policy conversation and partnership opportunities that would help them go green.  New blog post on a thought-provoking panel discussion focused on how ethnic small businesses can help anchor California’s environmental policies in local communities.