Blessed to be here at Omega, again, and sitting 10 feet from Vandana Shiva.
A crowd of teens just left the stage – teens from Yonkers, NY, my parents’ home town… where I spent the first 15 years of my life visiting my grandparents. It’s a superb urban “suburb”, just north of the Bronx. The talked about helping the community create a railtrail to Van Cortlandt Park . . and stewardship there . . and weeklong field trips to National Parks around the country . . Yosemite, Yellowstone. Lives changed? Yes. New ways of thinking about your home community? Yes. Audience inspired? Yes, a resounding Yes.
Van Jones takes the stage… and immediate laughter. How do you get folks to laugh about racism and Ferguson? . . must be something about juxtaposing what’s true and terrible with what’s possible in the human spirit. Should dogs be allowed to pee at funerals?
Now we are on Julia Butterfly Hill.. who lived in a redwood tree for over a year to stop the loggers. He recalls their meeting and discussion . . her heart speaks for the irreplaceability of species . . of individual trees . . no clear cutting, no extinctions. Van’s heart speaks about the irreplaceability of our young people . . no gun violence, no gangs.
And they realize how much they have in common.
Now he is talking about the Oakland Green Jobs Corps… energy retrofitting, solar installs, is gardening in there? Cali’s know for being pretty green… but still there was quite a ‘dance’ when Van talked the talk at city hall into getting this program going… and it’s good, b/c there was a crazay backlog on solar installs due to lack of trained workforce.
More humor… how teens don’t always watch the news… he is hearing them talk about Nancy Peloskyyy… who? Yeah, they were watching t.v. and she said that she liked their program. And it comes full circle . . local action, national attention, local attention . . more funding . . and the Green Jobs Corps grows.
Van is seriously hilarious… he’s talking now about conspiracy theories . . and how the Koch brothers interest group killed the green jobs movement in America. How are we laughing about this? Because we are. Because it’s too awful to believe, and yet it’s true.
“People ask me how I can get along with Next Gingrich. I tell them – there are only two political parties in this country – The Give-a-Damns and the Don’t-Give-a-Damns. If you care enough to actually stand for something, I want to talk to you.
“Let’s talk about fossil fuels. Let’s pull up 2 million year old dead stuff from the ground, without ceremony, and burn it . . all over the world. There won’t be any problem.
You shouldn’t be surprised that our kids have asthma . . You shouldn’t be surprised that there are oil spills in the ocean . . You shouldn’t be surprised that we’re having death with climate change. Ask Winona LaDuke . . indigenous people have know this for years…
A Saudi Arabia’s worth of solar energy falls on the US every year. George W. Bush . . that’s right, George W. Bush, said there’s enough wind blowing across our plains to power the whole country.
Focus groups spent 10 million dollars to kill green energy . . to kill the green jobs bill.
Why? . . for profit.
“Last time I went to jail . . that’s right. I like to say that. The last time I went to jail, I was marching with coal miners, who were asking for their pensions back.”
“You punch a right-winger, they get mad!
You punch a left-winger, they get sad.
What’s that about? It’s called low self-esteem.”
“We need numbers in the green movement.
When we set out to create green jobs, we didn’t have the numbers.
We have to set numerical expectations.
When I worked in the White House, we created a million jobs. But it wasn’t the numbers we promised. If we created a million jobs now, people would be ecstatic.
“Problem 2. When Obama got elected, we acted like the battle was one. We acted like it was Yes He Can, instead of Yes We Can. We sat down instead of getting up. And so others got up, like the Tea Party.
“Problem 3. We’re not using our power. We’re hot right now. We’ve got Pelosi, we’ve got lefties everywhere. Look at what the other communities of power are doing – we’ve got the plutocracy, the celebtocracy . .
“It’s very simple. Thank you very much.”
<<<awkward silence. then laughter. that van jones 😉 >>
“I amuse myself.
“Okay, it’s simple.
1. Close prison doors. 25% of the world’s prisoners are American, mostly black, brown and poor. I went to Harvard law school – 95% nonviolent drug offenders . . Past skulls and bones, where the hard drugs were being used . . straight to the projects, where kids are getting 10-20 for less. You know it and I know. This is something Newt and I actually agree on.
“Let’s bring these people into a new economy.”
“I’m tired. Help me. I’ve been a grass-roots insider. I’ve been an oval office insider. I’m equally uncomfortable everywhere now. Help me.
. . . on to questions . . .
A vocal woman from the front of the room lauds what we are doing in our cities, in our communities.
Van says, can I get an Amen?
Now Van is talking about the opportunity for young folks, especially people of color, to step up and fill the growing need for tech workers.
Now a young woman for “Off the Mat and Into the World Yoga” is talking about the need for GREEN to be everyone’s movement . . the need to organize cross-movements.
Can I put in a plug for 50 Shades of Green? Because this is the people want.
And now Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is the 13 year old indigenous environmental activist and youth director of Earth Guardians (http://www.eomega.org/workshops/teachers/xiuhtezcatl-martinez) is speaking . . and Van says, you’ve been by mentor for 4 years. <3 <3 True.
Van’s talking about stretching our muscles . . about how when his wife started yoga, there were things she literally couldn’t do . . and then she stretched and she practiced and she stretched.
The muscle we need to stretch now is our hearts.
There are things we couldn’t do yesterday that we can do today.
There are things we can do tomorrow.
<<<thanks and apologies for para-phrased quotes – – may the heart-speak of his words come through.>>>
(Thank we, Laura Weiland!)