Bringing Green Home: Van Jones and Green Collar Jobs

An interview with Van Jones, founder of Green For All, an advocacy group for green jobs.

| September/October 2008

  • Oakland, California-based lawyer Van Jones launched the advocacy group Green For All in 2007.
    Photo By Jeremy Harris

In 2007, Oakland, California-based lawyer Van Jones launched the advocacy group Green For All, which works to create “good jobs, safer streets and healthier communities” by linking environmental protection with new jobs. Green For All promotes local, regional and national government initiatives that bring millions of jobs in earth-friendly construction and alternative energy to unemployed residents of cities such as Oakland, reducing both inner-city pollution and poverty.

Jones pushed to get the 2007 Green Jobs Act passed; the Act earmarks $125 million in grants to train young people in eco-friendly trades. Closer to home, Green For All persuaded the Oakland City Council to put $250,000 into the Green Job Corps, which trains underemployed young adults to independently pursue opportunities in the new-energy economy.

What jobs would a “green-collar” worker do?

Creating a low-carbon economy means weatherizing millions of buildings, putting up millions of solar panels and building millions of wind, solar and wave farms so we can create and consume energy without destroying the planet. It is not a small job, but it’s a crucial one.

How can we save polar bears and inner-city kids, too?

The eco-elite love to talk about the big crisis—global warming. Poor people who already deal with a lot of down-to-earth crises don’t want to hear about it. They have parents with cancer and sisters with asthma and no health care. So, we have to change our rhetoric. For people with lots of opportunities, we tell them about the crisis; for people with lots of crisis, we tell them about opportunities.

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