Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Bringing sexy back to activism

I'm half-way into an article entitled, "I'm bad! I'm slick!" in the May 2008 Fast Company and I'm thinking Van Jones is a cross between Denzel Washington and Al Gore with a little bit of James Brown thrown in for good measure. ...The last time activism looked this good its mascot was a barely-clad, face-painted, flower child protesting the Vietnam war. His charisma and personality leap from the page and he clearly has his priorities in order when it comes to the environment. But Jones is taking a different tact than your average tree-hugger and battling the burn of our dwindling environment with business. As founder and president of Green for All (not to mention a Yale Law grad), Jones has been working hard to put an end to poverty while supporting the environment by training low-income, at-risk and disadvantaged men and women in green business practices.

Beyond his good looks, he's inspiring real change in the way people perceive the challenges we face as the world slowly dawns to the idea that we're running out of time to save our planet. The concept is this: in order to get green on the scale necessary to affect real change, we're going to need the people power to undertake the tasks of installing solar panels, building green homes and supporting earth-friendly business practices from the inside out. Beyond that, he believes that the absolute, hands-down, best people for the jobs are those who rarely have the means, education or opportunity to get a crack at that type of work.

What the article doesn't specifically spell out or beat you over the head with is this: The low-income, at-risk and disadvantaged of our country are the perfect pioneers of a this movement because they are exactly the people who can't afford be locavores. Their paycheck doesn't stretch enough to escape the the iron-fisted embrace of Walmart. And most importantly, the children of low-income, at-risk and disadvantaged parents are far more likely to struggle just to graduate from high school, let alone become involved in their community to support exactly these types of initiatives. It really is a cycle.

I'm not sure exactly what kind of message I can put forth about this other than that this man is really headed in the right direction. He's bringing green to the masses to make a better future for the planet and the people who live on it. And that goes way beyond the fashionable activism that conspires to not only further delay real attempts to make change but to squash it all together for lack of genuine support.

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