Van Jones is perhaps best known for tirelessly working against incarceration and the american prison industry, but his work on Reclaim the Future (Joel wrote about "Green Jobs, Not Jails!" last year) speaks straight to the essential connection between social justice and ecology. This kind of thinking is still rare.
The podcast network at Rabble.ca is hosting Van Jones' talk from the Social Change Institute on Cortes Island. For those of us who occasionally need a big hit of inspiration and vision, here's one to tide you over. Jones spoke to us in a packed room deep in the woods, sharing a vision for coalescing long-divided worlds. He also picked apart the conflicts in the non-profit sector, made fun of the post-marxists and ex-hippies, and insisted that the story of David & Goliath is long overdue to be replaced by Noah's Ark.
This new green wave of technology... of opportunity... lends itself to a question: will the green wave lift all boats, or will we have eco-apartheid? Will we have some communities with solar-this and bio-that and organic-the-other, and other communities like Oakland, with cancer clusters and pollution pockets, kids with asthma... or will we have eco-equity?
[What if] we make a decision as a movement to say 'no, no - we have to rescue life on this planet, and we have to do it collectively. We have to build an ark, so we can put the failing communities on it. Then you begin to have a new politics; it's a politics of real solidarity. It's a politics that says: The only way for these new environmental solutions can work is if the majority of people can embrace them. Suddenly the young people who don't have any jobs have a reason to talk to the environmentalists - why? Because you can offer them jobs. Putting up the solar panels. Retrofitting the buildings. There're jobs and opportunity that you can offer to young urban youth that right now don't care about environmentalism... dignified work that can help save the planet. Making a declaration [that] those communities that were locked out of the last century's pollution-based economy will be locked in to the new clean and green economy.
(photo: Rob Cottingham & Alexandra Samuel )
It's such a great idea to get young people involved in the environment without them really knowing that's what they're doing. Hopefully they will, in turn, realize the importance of taking care of the environment. The only problem is where the money will come from to give people those kinds of jobs.
Great post, Dawn!