Van Jones on Technology and the Environment
Van Jones is a social entrepreneur, CNN political contributor and host of The Messy Truth with Van Jones. Famous for his heart-felt election night coverage, Jones showed up as “the voice of reason” for people in red states and blue throughout the volatile 2016 political season. In response to much civil unrest and energy post-election, Jones launched the #Love Army -- a values-based movement that is working for an America where everyone counts.
Jones has founded and led numerous social enterprises engaged in social and environmental justice, including The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change, and The Dream Corps.
Jones is a Yale-educated attorney. He is the author of two New York Times best-selling books, The Green Collar Economy (2008) and Rebuild the Dream (2012). The second book chronicles his journey as an environmental and human rights activist to becoming a White House policy advisor.
He was the main advocate for the Green Jobs Act. Signed into law by George W. Bush in 2007, the Green Jobs Act was the first piece of federal legislation to codify the term “green jobs.” During the Obama Administration, the legislation has resulted in $500 million in national funding for green jobs training.
In 2009, Jones worked as the green jobs advisor to President Barack Obama. In this role, Jones helped to lead the inter-agency process that oversaw the multi-billion dollar investment in skills training and jobs development within the environmental and green energy sectors.
Jones has been honored with numerous awards and spotlighted on several lists of high achievers, including: the World Economic Forum’s “Young Global Leader” designation; Rolling Stone’s 2012 “12 Leaders Who Get Things Done”; TIME’s 2009 “100 Most Influential People in The World”; and the Root's 2014 "The Root 100." In 2017, Van Jones signed a management deal with Roc Nation, becoming the first political commentator & activist in their family. Jones lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife & two children.
Question: Why are people today more committed to the environment?
Jones: I feel like we had this whole new generation of so-called [millennials] that are purpose driven. They’re community oriented, they’re solution oriented, and, I think, we got to make sure that they have the opportunity to serve and, you know, really services, you know, helping the people, helping the planet.
Question: What is Green For All?
Jones: Green For All is a national organization. We’re working to get what we call green-collar jobs in the solar industry, wind industry, organic food, green construction, building [went] retrofits for disadvantaged communities. So, if you think about what it would take to beat global warming, we are going to have to weatherize millions of buildings, retrofit them so they don’t leak so much energy. That’s good for your energy bill, it’s also good for the climate crisis because that means the power plants can work a little bit less hard and put out less pollution. Well, if you’re going to weatherize millions of buildings, that’s thousands of contracts, it’s millions of jobs, it’s a huge economic stimulus. And we got to put up millions of solar panels. We got to build thousands of wind farms. We got to plant millions of trees and take care of them. We got to bring the food closer to the place so we aren’t trucking food back and forth so much, again, adding to greenhouse gas emissions. Well, all of that is work, a tremendous amount of work, thousands of contracts, millions of jobs. We want to make sure that people who most need work get a chance to do some of this work that must need to be done. We want to reboot, repower, reengineer our energy system, our energy infrastructure, and in so doing, it will create an awful lot of jobs. Put the United States for being the world leader in pollution and move us to be the world leader in solutions. So, well, you can’t get it done with only the environmentalist over here or cool green business guys over here or, you know, senators giving speeches over there, it requires a cross class, cross color, cross sector effort.
Question: How do you use technology to get your message out?
Jones: We’re calling for green jobs now and people who are going to the website, they’re putting in their own events, they’re self-organizing, they’re uploading pictures, uploading videos. We’re promoting good solutions and it’s going to be a good opportunity for us to see the two pathways forward that United States can go from being the world leader in pollution to the world leader in solutions if we focus on green jobs for everybody.
The President of Green For All talks about helping the environment, and reaching the service-minded "Millennial Generation" through the use of technology and the Internet.
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