Economic Change via Cultural Change

As a lawyer, as a person of color, and as a concerned citizen, Van Jones is deeply committed to improving racial and economic equality while at the same time mitigating environmental degradation.

In his 2007 book, The Green Collar Economy, Jones suggested that invention and investment will be the vehicles to take us out of a pollution-based grey economy and into a healthy new green economy.

“We are entering an era during which our very survival will demand invention and innovation on a scale never before seen in the history of human civilization. Only the business community has the requisite skills, experience, and capital to meet that need. On that score, neither government nor the nonprofit and voluntary sectors can compete, not even remotely. . . In the end, our success and survival as a species are largely and directly tied to the new eco-entrepreneurs—and the success and survival of their enterprises.”

That advocacy earned him a position as President Obama’s special advisor for green jobs with a mandate to help shape the regulations that would support the green entrepreneur.  However, it was this White House experience that helped him understand that it is not regulation that will change the direction of enterprise, but rather a new culture in business practices, a new culture in our consumption patterns, a new culture of awareness about neighborhood economies and the need to actively engage and support those economies.  It will take a cultural shift to affect an economic shift.

With that in mind, he launched Rebuild the Dream, an organization dedicated to “fighting for an economy that works for all.”  In his 2012 book of the same name, Jones redefines the American dream and drafts a thoughtful plan for its reconstruction. It still includes the ideals and principles of securing a better life for everyone willing to work hard and play fair, but the context is broader—more inclusive—and the well being of the planet itself is a priority.

“Deepen the diversity and restore the prosperity,” he urges. “Everything that’s good for the Earth is a job. Find the people who most need work and give them the work that most needs to be done.”

On November 9th, Van Jones will join Otto Scharmer and Judy Wicks at the 33rd Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures in New York City.  The theme is “America Emerging: Culture and Economics.”  The location is the Ballroom of the Essex House on Central Park South.  Doors open at 9:30 AM and the program starts at 10 AM, concluding at 3 PM.  Tickets are $150 and include lunch.  Pre-registration is required.  Register online or by phone at 413 528-1737by October 31st.

Van Jones offers a compelling voice for change.  Recognizing this, CNN announced in June of 2013 that Jones will join Crossfire, which has recently re-launched, with panelists Newt Gingrich, Stephanie Cutter, and S.E. Cupp.

Join us in New York to hear Van Jones’s ideas about a new American economy.

Best wishes,

Staff of the Schumacher Center for a New Economics

Board of Directors: Peter Barnes, Mary Berry, Severine von Tscharner Fleming, Hildegarde Hannum, Dan Levinson, Anne MacDonald, Jerry Mander, Gordon Thorne, Greg Watson, and Judy Wicks.

Advisory Board: Wendell Berry, Tanya Berry, Merrian Goggio Borgeson, Eric Harris-Braun, and Otto Scharmer.