Zoë Stagg

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Van Jones: Reduced, Reused, and Recycled…

It’s not often you see someone speak and get that feeling, that spidey-sense feeling that they’re headed for big things—and you’ll get to say “I saw them when!” Well, I saw Van Jones when, and I was struck. Not exactly ancient-history “when,” but pre-Obama “when”—and before the moniker of czar (which, so dumb. “Czar.” Why don’t we just call him Pretty Pretty Princess, Queen of Recycling.)

Jones was reading from his book on a live taping of a local radio show, and though I’d gone to see one of the other guests, I was more moved by him:

Also! Van Jones! He was also on the radio show and makes a whole lot of sense. First country to get all of its energy for free (wind, sun, stealing—okay, not the last one) wins. I want to win.

Afterward, I was sad I’d missed the chance to get him to sign his book. I reserve my star struck for people who’ve accomplished amazing things or really know their stuff—a wonky possession of intricate knowledge on a subject, and passion about it deep enough to inspire others to learn about it? Sold. Van Jones had That.

And I have to say, that wonky intricate knowledge? We desperately need that right now. One of my favorite independently-owned stores is shuttering this weekend. It’s a backyard view of what’s happening everywhere—our economy is changing. I actually spent my Saturday night worrying about that (and now you can spend your Sunday morning worrying about me for doing so.) But it’s everywhere, in every type of business from newspapers to shoes—it’s all going online. And let’s face it: online takes fewer people. Fewer people will have jobs. We have got to emerge from this Industrial Age sleeping bag and angle for the next Revolution. And the aforementioned notion by Mr. Jones? He’s right. There are jobs in figuring out how not to wreck our planet and support the lifestyle to which we’ve become accustomed. You know, with air to breathe and water to drink and money in the bank.

So he signed a petition and used a naughty word? Well, yeah dumbsville. I knew when I was 18 that someday I might want to run for office and made a rule for myself then never to sign petitions. True story (the rule making, not that I still want to run) but to this day I don’t. I don’t care what it is. “Do you care about the children?” (Giant smile) “Oh, no thank you!” But not everyone lives their lives thinking they’re going to be vetted someday.

But a dumb move (or six) doesn’t dilute one’s expertise.

Call it simplistic*, but I think we’re at a juncture where the luxury to judge someone on what they’ve done in the past must be considered in the context of what they can do for our future. Heck, he could have called me an asshole to my face, and I’d probably still want him to get in there and make sure people have jobs to do and we have a planet to inhabit.

But those are just my priorities—and I guess I’d rather win by being alive, than “win.”

(*Looking for less simplistic? The Moderate Voice has an excellent round up with analysis.)

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