My entry on the Bioneers Conference at D-UMass was a little harsh in some places. Perhaps I should have gone easy on the "wealthy guilt" thing. Not because I may have insulted anyone. Guilt is a useless waste of time and energy that sometimes gets wrapped in a sincerely propitious package. But it's still a waste of time and energy, and that's not the Bioneers' driving force.
I'm still confused by speakers' denial of past movements. (The tradition of environmental movements being social movements goes back further than the Industrial Revolution -- back to times when fallow fields were seen as healthy and replenishing, not a series of lost profits.) I was discouraged by the amount of garbage in trashcans. (Barely-eaten food, paper cups, programs, comment sheets. Some was in recycle bins. Unfortunately, so was the food. And I'm sure some was students'. Which is even more discouraging. ) I was appalled by the people who said things like, "I heard that when I saw him at San Rafael," or "He was funnier in San Francisco." And I was bothered by the girl who kept laughing loudly at inappropriate times.
It was my first chance to see Van Jones, who's actually doing stuff. He's the co-founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and I heard him speak on Sunday. Here's some of what he talked about, thanks to Treehugger:
Try this experiment. Go knock on someone’s door in West Oakland, Watts or Newark and say: ‘We gotta really big problem!’ They say: ‘We do? We do?’ ‘Yeah, we gotta really big problem!’ ‘We do? We do?’ ‘Yeah, we gotta save the polar bears! You may not make it out of this neighborhood alive, but we gotta save the polar bears!’
We need a different on-ramp for people from disadvantaged communities. The leaders of
the climate establishment came in through one door and now they want to squeeze everyone through that same door. It’s not going to work. If we want to have a broad-based environmental movement, we need more entry points.
You can’t take a building you want to weatherize, put it on a ship to China and then have them do it and send it back. So we are going to have to put people to work in this country—weatherizing millions of buildings, putting up solar panels, constructing wind farms. Those green-collar jobs can provide a pathway out of poverty for someone who has not gone to college. Remember, a big chunk of the African-American community is economically stranded. The blue-collar, stepping- stone, manufacturing jobs are leaving. And they’re not being replaced by anything. So you have this whole generation of young blacks who are basically in economic free
fall. If we can get these youth in on the ground floor of the solar industry now, where they can be installers today, they’ll become managers in five years and owners in 10. And then they become inventors. The green economy has the power to deliver new sources of work, wealth and health to low-income people—while honoring the Earth. If you can do that, you just wiped out a whole bunch of problems. We can make what is good for poor black kids good for the polar bears and good for the country."
That's some good stuff told to the folks who may not have thought much about it. Jones' new project is Green For All. I've added it to the GAM starboard.