The University of Vermont had the honor of hosting a talk led by Van Jones. Van Jones was one of the founding directors of Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. He is also very concerned with the environment. He is a member of many organizations such as, Rainforest Action Network, WITNESS, Bioneers, the New Apollo Project and the Social Venture Network. The University was very thankful fortunate to have such a passionate figure come and grace us with some of his knowledge.
The speech was titled “The New Dream” presented by “Reclaim the Future.” Van began by telling us we were part of the 3rd wave of Environmentalism. The first wave was conservation which began with the Native Americans. During this time a squirrel could climb up a tree in California and jump from branch to branch and make it to the Mississippi River. The second wave was Regulation which was started with Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring. Now in the 3rd wave called, Investment. The result of an investment is hoped and assumed to be a positive one bringing many progressive results to the investor. We are in a wave of hope and optimism.
The amount of money our Country is spending on alternative energy, green cars and green products is on the rise. We are currently spending $229 billion dollars a year on all of these materials. These are amazing numbers and they are only on the rise. However the most astonishing fact is that the Green wave is the most racially segregated economy in the United States. The work being put forth to encourage this Green wave is so that it will last forever. If it doesn’t include everyone, then we won’t last very long.
People who invest in Venture Capital are hoping to invest in the next “big thing”. In 2006 Clean Tech was number three on the top ten list for Venture Capital. The Country is on its way to living Green. Some of Van’s work towards this Green living includes the city of Oakland, CA. An interesting fact about Oakland is that it houses 30,000 people and there is not one grocery store. The residence must travel on four buses to reach the store and take four buses home. However there are about 60 liquor stores. Oakland has begun to be a model city to watch people rise out of poverty and enter the Green world. A
People’s Grocery Store has opened, which shuttles organic food into Oakland and is sold at reasonable prices. Van sees people rising out of minimum wage jobs, drug deals and other illegal work and entering “green collar” jobs. Learning how to fix a hybrid car or install solar panels are just a few examples of these “green collar” jobs.
Saving the Polar Bears and using Recycled Energy are all amazing projects and important. Something else we can all think about is helping those who don’t have the resources to buy organic or even have control over where they’re heat is coming from. The inner cities and low income communities are places where waste has been dumped for years. Cleaning up these areas and educating its residence is just as important as the Polar Bears. The Environmental Wave is undoubtedly on its way into the future to stay. The only way to make it permanent is to include everyone and work together on an even plain.