Saturday, June 28, 2008

American Hero IV

I have seen the future of activism ...

... and his name is Van Jones.

Tonight, at the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly (the UU annual national meeting) in Fort Lauderdale, Van Jones presented the 2008 Ware lecture, a sort-of keynote address featured at every GA.

Frankly, I was spellbound. Speaking without the ubiquitous PowerPoint presentation, without notes as far as I could tell, Mr. Jones alternately cajoled us, praised us, inspired us, blessed us, and made us laugh, but most of all, lifted us up into a new world of possibilities and new paradigms.

Van Jones' vision is of a new Green Economy in our nation, one that first reaches out to the people who were locked out of the old gray economy. His vision is that of an ecological revolution formed by the marriage of environmentalism and social justice.

"The chief moral obligation of the 21st Century is to build a green economy that is strong enough to lift people out of poverty. Those communities that were locked out of the last century's pollution-based economy must be locked into the new, clean and renewable economy.

Our youth need green-collar jobs, not jails."

-- Van Jones

So, who is this guy?

Well, for one, he is an African-American environmentalist, something that was once considered an oxymoron.
From Wikipedia:
Van Jones (born 1968) is a civil rights and environmental advocate in Oakland, California, working to combine solutions to social inequality and environmental justice. Jones is the president and founder of Green For All, a national organization dedicated to building an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty. Green For All grew out of Jones' work creating a 'Green Job Corp' in Oakland, California, as part of a program at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. Jones founded the Ella Baker Center in 1996. Named for the civil rights and human rights heroine Ella Baker, the Center challenges human rights abuses in the United States criminal justice system and "promotes alternatives to violence and incarceration."

Here are links to Van Jones and some of initiatives:
From LINKTV, Journalist Mark Hertsgaard speaks with Van Jones of the Apollo Alliance about the environment and concrete ways that ordinary people can make a difference:

Van Jones at BIONEERS '07:

Social activist, Van Jones, speaks about activating your personal edge in the context of any social activism and also in the context of healing our prison systems:

There are lots more on YouTube.

And so, when he finished tonight, Mr. Jones made a beeline to where our UU youth sat (or rather stood, as the ovation we gave him after his address was unanimously standing) and spent fifteen minutes exulting them, hugging them, letting them know who will carry America to its promise still deferred. Watch this guy. He is going to change the world.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

VERY cool .... thanks for sharing!
E&M from the big easy .....