Van Jones to Bring Green Jobs Vision to Washington

Van Jones to Bring Green Jobs Vision to Washington

After days of online speculation, Van Jones has officially become the "Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation" at the White House's Council on Environmental Quality.

The news made heavy rounds starting on Saturday, when Karl Burkart at GreenDig issued an unconfirmed rumor that the posting was about to happen. By Monday bloggers were at a fever pitch, and last night the AP filed an exceedingly short brief confirming the appointment.

Van Jones has long been a top pick for the job; he is the co-founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, Calif., which advocates for juvenile justice reform, police reform, youth violence prevention and green-collar jobs. He is also the founding president of Green For All, whose mission is to build an inclusive, green economy strong enough to resolve the ecological crisis and lift millions of people out of poverty.

As a long-time advocate for both environmental issues and bringing high-quality work to urban areas, Jones' green collar vision finally found an audience last year as the economy tanked, concerns about the environment continued to grow, and he published his New York Times best-selling book, The Green Collar Economy.

The book explores at great depth the ways that providing training for workers in energy efficiency, renewable energy and other green solutions can help both the environment and the economy. In an interview with Leslie Guevarra on GreenBiz Radio late last year, Jones laid out part of his vision:
"[..I]n terms of game changing opportunities, the first thing is when people hear the term "green job," they often think about Buck Rogers or George Jetson, you know, some sci-fi job. But the real, probably the most important, tool for greening the economy -- the high-tech tool -- is a caulk gun and a clipboard to begin to weatherize buildings and retrofit them so that we leak less energy. Well, that's your big carbon reduction opportunity right there. You don't have to come up with any new technologies for that, but you could put a lot of people to work, so here's an opportunity.
We were lucky to have one of Jones' colleagues from the Ella Baker Center on a panel at the State of Green Business Forum; you can watch a video of Ella Baker's Ian Kim, myself, and two other distinguished panelists on GreenBiz.com.

Speaking of videos, a post earlier today on the White House blog offers up the following video from the first official meeting of the Middle Class Task Force; the video features Van Jones alongside Vice President Joe Biden, Environmental Defense Fund president Fred Krupp, and John Podesta from the Center for American Progress. Van Jones' portion of the panel begins at 11:30.