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GreenBuild Master Speaker Van Jones, Green For All President and Founder

Boston, November 19, 2008


Talking about our challenges and opportunities:


As much as we were crying tears of joy and happiness (with the recent election)(recently) we (also) cried tears of defeat, despair, fear. People ...(have been) afraid of losing their homes, their jobs, … their pensions… (and) have been crying across this country as we go through the worst economic period in two generations.


How do we hold that? How do we hold tears of joy and the tears of pain at the same time? …

The past 30 years of economic policy … tore the floor out from under the American people…

But, sometimes, something really bad has to happen for something really good to happen.

It’s those bad days, … it’s those breakdowns that are often necessary to have a breakthrough... in the same month that the floor got torn out from under the American people, Barack Obama tore the ceiling off… so you are free to fall or fly. I believe (the USGBC) will be part of what it takes to fly…


In the past … 30 years, 3 fallacies … have governed our economy:

1)  We could have an economy that could run forever based on consumption, and not production… Rather than having our factories, and manufacturing and building here… our economy was based on … going to the mall. In the past several years we’ve been consuming 5-6-7% more than we were producing.

2)  We could have an economy empowered by debt, rather than smart savings and thrift like our grandparents. I would take a wild bet: ...if your great-grandmother – or your grandmother - came back and looked at your credit card bill versus your savings account, you’d get a whupping! … That was the idea that we were going to run the economy on credit and not creativity… based on borrowing, and not on building. That was a theory.

3)  We can run the economy based on environmental destruction rather than environmental restoration. Just burn through all the natural capital…


That set of fallacies defined the economy that just crashed.


The (green) economy that is now to be born will:

1)  go back to production

2)  local production

3)  going back to thrift – not wasting anything. You call it green… but your grandmother would say, ‘don’t be a dammed fool. Save some stuff, reuse some stuff, and don’t be a damn fool.’ … (you’d just call it) ‘green economic theory.’


Why do we get to fly? Production, thrift and environmental restoration open the door to the next American economy…


You’re not the alternative. What you are committed to will be the cornerstone of the next American economy. It will be the green economy that powers the economy through the recession…


We have the opportunity now to go back to production in the United States. What can we produce in the US? … Factories are overseas. There’s one thing we can produce in the US… clean energy. Why? We have a Saudi Arabia in wind in our plains states… (and) a Saudi Arabia of solar energy in our sunbelt.


(But), we don’t have the ability to connect those clean energy power centers to population centers.


That is the simplest definition of the agenda … in this country…


We will… power our way through the recession by repowering and retrofitting America  ….not just to save the earth, but to renew and revive the American economy itself.


The next locomotive to power this economy through the next century… will respect the earth… Clean energy revolution,… with local conditions, local labor and local technology... clean energy.



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