Van Jones

Looking forward to next week in EEA (and away, briefly, from my grading pile): we’ll commence reading Van Jones.

His Rebuild the Dream looks forward too, to a President who still has a chance to be our first truly green Commander-in-chief, and to an environmental movement that’s truly a rainbow coalition. Elizabeth Kolbert wrote about Jones when he was on top of the world, just before goofy conspiracy theorists saddled him (and Paul Hawken) with the false “Truther” label and ran him out of Washington, at the start of the Obama presidency. “Greening the Ghetto” is a good introduction to the man from Jackson, Tennessee.

After high school, Jones enrolled at the University of Tennessee at Martin. The first day of his freshman year, he decided that he needed a new identity, or, at least, a new name. Anthony Jones was dull. He chose Van because, he told me, “it has a little touch of nobility, but at the same time it’s not overboard.” Jones majored in communications and political science and, thinking that he wanted to become a journalist, interned for a couple of newspapers. The experience convinced him that he was on the wrong career path. In 1990, he enrolled at Yale Law School…

Gus Speth says he’s a big part of the future of environmentalism. “We cannot fail Van Jones.”

His pal Julia Butterfly Hill says

“We fit together like pieces of a puzzle. I brought the piece that we are not separate from this planet. His piece was we need to uplift everyone.”

That’s what an “everybody movement” is all about. “This could really be something that brings people together, across the lines of class and color.”

And what’s the word that best foretells our future, in Jones’s vision? As Dustin Hoffman’s “Benjamin Braddock” learned long ago, it’s not plastic.

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