Green Heroes: Van Jones & the Ella Baker Center

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Van Jones is a ‘human rights champion’ and co-founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, CA. Since 1996 the EBC has been working to promote alternatives to violence and incarceration for the youth of Oakland, with campaigns like Books Not Bars, which has helped to block the construction of a youth prison in Oakland and shut down two existing youth prisons in greater Cali, Silence the Violence, and the Bay Area PoliceWatch, which offers legal support and referrals for survivors of police abuse.

In recent years, Jones’ attention has been drawn to the environmental movement and he has become a major player in getting the needs of the environment in tune with the needs of the working masses.

You can already see the Green Wave lifting some communities, where hybrid and bio-diesel cars, stores with organic produce, homes with solar panels on the roofs, and green, vibrant parks are increasingly common. But go just a few miles away to urban centers, and the Green Wave often feels like a distant and irrelevant concept. Many people are just trying to survive, and the concern is not eating organic, but eating. Period. So who is participating in the new green economy? And who will reap the benefits?

In 2007 Jones officially expanded the focus of the EBC to include a green initiative, with the slogan ‘green jobs, not jails.’ In June 2007 Jones, with the EBC and the Oakland Apollo Alliance, convinced the City of Oakland to instate a ‘Green Jobs Corp’ that will train youth for green-collar jobs. They took the iniative all the way to the U.S. House of Representatives and worked with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), U.S. Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA), U.S. Rep. John Tierney (D-MASS) to bring this initiative to the national level and pass the Green Jobs Act of 2007. The act will provide $125 million in funding to train 35,000 people a year in “green-collar jobs.”

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Born from all this green momentum was the Green for All campaign:

The Green For All campaign is a bold effort to harness the growing power of the green economic revolution to fight the war on poverty. By securing job training for 250,000 workers from urban communities for the emerging green job market, the program will provide new avenues of opportunity for those who have traditionally been left behind by the nation’s economic growth. It will also give the crusade against global warming a broader social base, extending the green revolution to the neglected streets of cities like Oakland, Detroit, Baltimore and New Orleans.

Jones is also a founding board member of the 1Sky coalition (dude does lots of things!!). Here he is speaking right here in the Dot:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjOS7QYCMZ8[/youtube]

And here he is on LinkTV:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22FquY2ujMw&NR=1[/youtube]

And here is a Grist interview with him: A Van With a Plan: An interview with Van Jones, advocate for social justice and shared green prosperity

Incidentally, the ‘green-collar jobs’ catch phrase has been a pretty popular topic of conversation lately. Check out these stories on Grist. The first one is just generally pointing out the newfound popularity of the term, but what I found most interesting about it was the debate it sparked in the comments (and the general foolishness of the commenters). The second one is Van Jones seemingly responding to the debate sparked by the first one.
‘Green-collar’ jobs: The latest eco-buzzword
Memo to Candidates: Green-collar jobs mean standing up for people and the planet

Last thing: I was late on the tip, but Green for All put together a petition calling on congress to incorporate green and sustainable job economies into the soon-to-come economic stimulus package that they’re trying to get out before it’s too late… Unfortunately (for me), GFA handed in the petition yesterday. I signed it today, before I realized it was already in the hands of the man…but I bet they still keep up with new signatures and would love continued support, so sign the petition!

2 thoughts on “Green Heroes: Van Jones & the Ella Baker Center

  1. Brother Jones,
    Could ypu please contact me so that I could educate myself about employment opportunities involving Green Energy.

    Thank you,
    Beth Kimmel

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