Van Jones is founding president of Rebuild the Dream, a pioneering initiative to restore good jobs and economic opportunity. He is the co-founder of three, thriving organizations: the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change, and Green For All. Jones is the author ofThe New York Times best seller, The Green Collar Economy, and most recently, the book Rebuild the Dream.
A Yale-educated attorney, Van worked as the green jobs advisor to the Obama White House in 2009. There, he helped run the inter-agency process that oversaw $80 billion in green recovery spending. Time Magazine has named Jones one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.
Van Jones: Well, at times we’ll say you know, the green economy or green jobs people are thinking about you know, Buck Rogers or you know, George Jetson, you know, this kind of Sci-Fi job or something. You know, the main tool and a lot of green job is a cocked gun, you know retrofitting buildings, so that they don’t leak so much energy blowing in insulation, wrapping water heaters so they don’t leak so much energy, double painting glass. Those are good, would have been blue-collar jobs in the last century we call them green-collar jobs now because they’ve been upgraded to better respect the environment, installing solid panels, manufacturing wind turbines, fabricating solid panels, you know, planting community gardens, all of these things that actually are skilled labor, you know, not just only this PhDs but the [PhDo’s] the people who are doing the hard work of getting this economy retrofit and re-powering America, those are green-collar jobs. If we are going to beat global warming, we’re going to have to have literally millions of people deployed across the country to reboot, re-power, retrofit America so that we can have this clean energy revolution be successful.
Question: How important is the green movement today?
Van Jones: Yeah. Well, you know, one of the things that we’ve seen is that, you know, unregulated greed at the top has guided us into this awful situation, but unleashing green solutions at the bottom can get us out. You know, a commitment to a green recovery were we use the need to invest in infrastructure, greening infrastructure. Obviously, we got [levies] falling down and bridges falling down, we have to deal with that, but we also have, you know, tremendous problems with our aging water infrastructure, our aging energy infrastructure. The process of rebuilding all that and making it now state of the art, keep people to work, bring down energy prices and jumpstart the economy. We need a big green stimulus package. We just bailed out the banks, we need to bail out the people in the planet and that can be done. I’m a senior fellow with the Center for American Progress. Center for American Progress put out a report called “Green Recovery” showed how a sum of money much less than the $700, $800 billion that we just set aside to bail out the banks could create 2 million jobs in the United States in the next two years, a hundred billion dollars invested could put people to work, you know, in a number of states in jobs you know, like electrician jobs, a pipe fitter jobs, jobs that we’ve heard of before, not George Jetson jobs, but we could get our economy going again. I can’t stress enough. Our construction industry is flat on its back. We’re not going to be building a lot in the next couple of years but we can be rebuilding. We can be retrofitting what we have and putting people back to work.
We have a responsibility to defend the America that we inherited and to make sure that people calling themselves patriots don't smash it down.