The New Yorker Magazine's, January 12 issue, offers an in-depth look at the work of Van Jones and his efforts to "green the ghetto." Jones is fighting to address poverty and climate change, at the same time, through public works projects. He has been called the Martin Luther King of the green-jobs movement. We think he is a fascinating and important voice, a man to keep your eye on.
Jones suggests that our crisis is fueled by the idea of disposability. We all know that one of our problems is treating the planet as if it is disposable. Jones feels that we also consider people disposable. He wants the "disposable people" to be an important part of the whole green movement. He wants them to be trained in green jobs and elevated out of lives of poverty and crime. Jones believes environmental justice is tied, inextricably, to social justice.
However, the green movement is not one of diversity. "A 2006 study commissioned by Earthjustice, a non-profit environmental law group, found that the 'ecological base'---defined as Americans who report the environment as being central to their concerns---is 'nearly ninety percent white, mostly college-educated, higher-income, and over thirty-five,'"
Jones suggests that the movement needs to include and hear the voice of the poor:
Your goal has to be to get the greenest solutions to the poorest people...That's the only goal that's morally compelling enough to generate enough energy to pull this transition off. The challenge is making this an everybody movement, so your Joe Six-Pack and Joe the Plumber icons are becoming Joe the Solar Panel Guy, or that kid on the street corner (is) putting down his handgun, picking up a caulk gun...Jones intends to keep our feet to the green fire.