Yesterday I had the pleasure of hearing Van Jones, author of The Green Collar Economy, talk about his vision for a green economy at The Center For American Progess.
It was an oversubscribed crowd and Jones sat comfortably on an arm chair on a slightly raised platform, giving the impression of a living room chat. He started by talking about how the floor on America has been torn out, but so has the ceiling and now is the time when we are “free to fall or to fly.” He spoke of our unsustainable economic model that is based on consumption not production, run on debt vs. savings and thrift, and environmental destruction vs. preservation. But soon after the gloom, Jones shifted the rhetoric to one of hope. He spoke of building a new economy with clean energy power centers and a clean enemy corps. An economy where all people, including people often left out of economic expansion such as the poor, people of color, etc…, have a place at the table. He spoke of the low hanging fruit in a new green collar economy: retrofitting. He laid out his vision where out of work construction workers — workers he predicted would be idle for 12, 24, 36 months — are put to work retrofitting existing building across America.
And therein lies the ecopreneurial opportunity. In Jones’ vision, people from all economic strata can start a business that provides retrofitting services or produce the products needed to retrofit. And, retrofitting is just the beginning. Jones went on to say that the days of the environment being a “a box you check off” are over and we have entered an era where environmental impacts are a lens through which all economic activity must be viewed. The result is an economy with a host of ecopreneurial opportunities and where our two worst problems, the economy and climate change, are solved by ecoprenuers. In Van Jones’ world, there never been a better time to be an ecopreneur.
Photo courtesy of Van Jones.