Saturday, January 10, 2009

Book Review: The Green Collar Economy

Dear Mr. President-Elect.

In less than two weeks, you will be inaugurated and will have more power to change the world than most of us dream of. I am sure you are being bombarded by pleas, petitions, and emails. Well, I know you are because I've signed a number of those.

The American people have big plans for you and a lot of hope. We are looking for real change and you have signaled that, at a minimum, with respect to Climate Change, you will give it. You are proposing billions of dollars for new green jobs in an effort to stimulate the economy. A Green New Deal, in effect.

I hope that, before making that proposal, you and/or your advisers read The Green Collar Economy by Oakland activist, Van Jones. It's a great book that emphasizes the importance of growing a greener, cleaner economy and doing it by including all segments of the population - those in the inner cities, the rural dwellers, the incarcerated, the highly educated and those without a degree. Mr. Jones explains that, to be successful, this movement needs to be about providing economic opportunities and a better life, and not just "saving the earth."

Mr. Jones lays out all kinds of green jobs - from increasing energy efficiency and building renewables to mass transit, reducing waste and farming, the greenest job of all. He explores how we can train a legion of new green collar workers and how we can transition more highly skilled workers into greener careers.

I'd be happy to lend you my copy of the book but my husband wants to read it first. He's interested in green business ideas and boy, oh boy, is this book overflowing with lots of those. For instance, Mr. Jones talks about a Los Angeles-based group called Tree-People that works to reduce water pollution by building cisterns to capture water and reduce polluted storm run off while creating hundreds of jobs. It is estimated that, over a period of thirty years, the city and country will save $300 million in water and other costs. Imagine if we expanded that from the LA area to state or country-wide. We'd be rolling in green dough and reveling in fresh water.

The great thing about this book is that Mr. Jones gets it. He understands that we are in the midst of an economic melt down. That we are facing a dramatically heating planet with dwindling resources. But he also gets that if we all work together - and that includes the government, Mr. Obama - then we can come up with some really inventive solutions that will not only create jobs and stimulate the economy but also provide us with a cleaner, healthier planet and a better lifestyle.

You might want to ask all members of your Cabinet to read this and, heck, go ahead and recommend it to the public at large. Everyone can find something useful from this book. Personally, I'd rank it 4.5 out of 5 and recommend it for anyone interested in living green or getting a job.

Good luck in the next four years. I'm counting on some real green changes.


Green Bean


Donna said...

You win! I think we've all been working on this book and you finished and got your review done first. :)

Great letter. From the quotes I'm hearing from Obama, I kind of wonder if he's already read the book. It ought to be required reading for Congress, too.

Kale for Sale said...

I've been wondering if Obama has already read the book too or at minimum had long talks with Van Jones. It seems like the book came out at exactly the right moment. Thanks for the review Green Bean. I didn't want it to end.

Anonymous said...

Excellent review, thank yuo for the tip. As a Toronto realtor I bounded my business with green thinking and - it really works! Some people think "green" means "costly", or "problematic", when talking about business. but no - green business is a challenge!
Take care