The Green Collar Economy

Book CoverWell, I finally made it through another book. This time it was some serious non-fiction, in the tune of Van Jones’ The Green Collar Economy. The book has been made even more famous by the fact that Jones resigned from the post of Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation for the White House. It finally came out in paperback, and I can genuinely say I am glad that I bought it.

In case you are unfamiliar with Van Jones as an activist, I need only direct you to his bio to give you an accurate portrayal of his career. He served as a forerunner in dealing with racially charged violence in California, and has a particular knack for finding solutions with measurabilty- something that does not always come easy to those in the nonprofit world.

Unfortunately, his resignation is really shadowed in mystery – but he essentially resigned due to the relentless harassment from the conservative right over some of his personal views. This included activism surrounding the death penalty, and questioning of many issues surrounding 9/11.

His is one of those books that tells the tale of global warming and climate change with intensity, and, yes, catastrophic language. BUT unlike others that I have read in this category, it offers some of the most interesting, well-thought out solutions that I have ever come across.

Jones’ book begins with the problem. Melting ice caps, an economy in the toilet, and many more different awful things that are transpiring around the world. He is U.S. -centric in the sense that he focuses even more on the role that U.S. politics plays in the lack of momentum surrounding climate change. And he is absolutely passionate about this.

The words resonate an anger as well as a commitment to solving the problem. Additionally, Jones’ personal experience with Katrina survivors makes a clear linkage between the urban poor and the global warming debate. It cannot be simply an elitist fight.

The book then addresses the very solutions needed to solve this problem:

  • Concrete government action
  • An engagement with underprivileged, and specifically urban, communities
  • Utilizing sectors of the society, such as former convicts, to benefit from the new Green Job revolution. This will be both economically and socially uplifting.
  • Support by government of private sector innovation. This includes funding for projects and support of inventors working for sustainable technology.

The list that Jones creates is very long. And somewhat daunting for the average reader. My only qualm with the book (and it doesn’t really apply to me since this book is not the first I have read on the subject) is that if it were slightly more anecdotal, it would be incredibly effective.

The story that Jones tells about the people of Katrina is extremely moving. We all remember the helpless feeling many of us had, as well as the haunting reality that our country just didn’t care about our people.

I specifically want to address my feeling of sadness at Jones’ decision to resign. His book made me so excited about his capacity as a person, to move this country in the right direction.

I hope he recognizes that there are far more of us that appreciate his work, and that the Glen Beck’s of the world are not the only voice.

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