Van Jones and the Vision for a New Urban Environmentalism

This morning we’re featuring a post from Streetsblog Network member Where,
an always thought-provoking international blog that "brings together
urbanists from all walks of life living in cities around the world to
poke, prod, and otherwise examine everything urban in an effort to
maintain a global conversation about this increasingly vital subject
matter."

Today Where is looking at Van Jones, Obama’s green jobs adviser. Jones is a longtime activist and author, most recently, of The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems.
As Where says, Jones advocates the development of green infrastructure
as a solution to both urban poverty and global warming:

greencollar_1203.jpgPhoto of Van Jones via Green for All.

In
today’s political climate of economic crisis and recovery, this concept
makes environmental concern more politically viable. It has rallied
unions, corporations, politicians, and local activists behind
alternative energy as an agent for job creation.

Still, there
is skepticism about the merits of combined solutions to global warming
and poverty. Some see a lack of environmental concern among less
affluent communities as a major impediment. Others point out that
environmental conservation places disproportionate strain on people
living in poverty. Some policy experts see the two problems as too
distinct to be addressed with a joint solution. Jones responds by
explaining the benefits of a holistic approach that encourages combined
efforts. He considers poverty alleviation without environmental
consideration a short-term fix, resulting in greater problems down the
road. He adds that people living in poverty will support environmental
causes that address their most pressing needs.

In another interview, Jones critiques the politically expedient allocation of infrastructure dollars:

Well,
the people who were global warming deniers, once they came around to
believing in global warming, then they said “we’re still for Drill Baby
Drill.” And then when that was no longer the
conversation, they became the “we’re for shovel-ready” voices — as
opposed to people-ready or planet-ready. So now they want the stimulus
to go to “shovel-ready” projects. What are “shovel ready” projects?
They’re sprawl-ready projects. Every governor’s got a load of highways
to nowhere that they can throw money, contractors, and unions at, and
get a lot of political payoff in the short term. But then we’re
actually feeding what we’re fighting, if our aim is an
energy-independent, climate-smart country. “Shovel ready” gets pitted
against green jobs because green jobs will have a little longer
turnaround, in terms of training people, getting regulations in place,
making sure companies are ready to go.

Elsewhere around the network, Baltimore Spokes
argues that motorists will never understand a biker’s point of view
unless they ride the roads on two wheels themselves — and that doing
so for at least 100 hours should be a requirement for a driver’s
license.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Today’s Headlines

|
AC Transit Board Votes to Raise Fares (SF Gate, Coco Times) A Rundown of the Fare/Service Cuts Facing Bay Area Transit Agencies (Santa Rosa CityBus) Study: Calif. Coastal Cities Must Plan for a Rise in Ocean Levels (SF Gate, LAT, Merc) Van Jones will Take Role as White House Green Jobs Advisor (Alternet) Agency Squabbling […]
Deliveries by e-trike: Now happening in Portland. Photo: Bike Portland
STREETSBLOG USA

UPS Begins Delivering Packages via E-Trike in Portland

|
Delivery trucks are terrible for city streets, polluting the air, blocking bike lanes, endangering pedestrians and cyclists. But cities need the goods they carry. One way around the problem of big trucks is to divide deliveries into smaller loads, carried with smaller vehicles. Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland reports on an encouraging development on that front: UPS is piloting the […]
STREETSBLOG USA

Mother Jones Rang in 2015 By Blaming Drunk People for Getting Hit By Cars

|
This was the New Year’s revelry advice from Mother Jones, the left-wing, reader-supported magazine: Whatever you do, don’t walk anywhere after drinking. That’s because, Maddie Oatman writes, it makes you more likely to be struck by a driver. As the basis for her reporting, Oatman used some well worn stats from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In […]

Cycle Chicly!

|
The interplay of cycling, fashion, and gender has been a hot topic in the livable streets blogosphere this month, and in the Livable Streets Community too. We recently saw the launch of a bike culture-themed group blog called Amsterdamize, and on StreetsWiki we have a new article on Cycle Chic. Santa Barbara Cycle Chic. Photo: […]

This Week in Livable Streets Events

|
This is a week of stimulating conversation and rewarding volunteerism in the Livable Streets calendar, with a fascinating recycling plant tour to round things out. Here’s a taste of what’s in store. Monday: INFORUM: San FranCyclo, The Wheel World. The Commonwealth Club is presenting a conversation on the state of bicycling in San Francisco. The […]