Van Jones: the right man for the job
This column is about Van Jones, President Obama’s “green jobs czar” until his resignation last week. It isn’t about whether he was unfairly forced out by extremists or deserved to lose his job because of irresponsible actions and remarks.
It’s about the man I heard speak at Greenbuild, an inspirational speaker who has, according to a posting on AlterNet, “already helped to broaden the clean-energy and environmental movements far beyond their white, crunchy-granola base. Adept at building coalitions and finding interdisciplinary approaches, Jones is just the person to sell an abstract concept like cap-and-trade to regular, cash-strapped Americans.”
Jones’s intentions appear to be above reproach. I’ve transcribed a portion of a YouTube video he made recently:
“I think the one thing we all need to be focused on is building a green economy that is strong enough to lift millions of people out of poverty. The two big issues…the incredible ecological crisis that we’re going to be in …and the widening gap between rich and poor … are slightly different problems with one solution…green collar jobs We have all this work to be done; there are millions of buildings …to be weatherized…millions of solar panels to be put up, millions of wind farms to be built so we can have energy without destroying the planet. That’s a lot of work and there are millions of people who don’t have work. I believe the moral challenge of this century is to connect the people who most need work with the work that needs to be done and that way we can fight poverty and pollution at the same time… We need green pathways out of poverty and into prosperity.” Listen for yourself.
Are activism and government work incompatible? It would be a shame if they were. Some commentators think he will do more good outside the White House than he could have accomplished from within. Majora Carter, a former colleague of Jones, told NPR, “we need to ask ourselves why this is happening right now, not so that we can over analyze it, but so that we can move forward in a way that’s actually profoundly strong and in support of the kind of America that we know should exist for everybody.”