Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Green Collar Economy Review and Giveaway

A book review from The Conscious Shopper

Yesterday, Van Jones' bestselling book, The Green Collar Economy, came out in paperback. This was hands down my favorite non-fiction book of all the books I've read in the past year (and I read a lot), so to celebrate its paperback release, I'm offering to give away a copy of The Green Collar Economy to one lucky reader of The Green Phone Booth. To be entered, simply leave a comment on this post. I'll announce the randomly selected winner on my post next Wednesday.

And to whet your reading appetite, here's my review of this book from my personal blog.


The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems
by Van Jones


Rating: *****

Van Jones proposes that establishing a strong green collar economy is the solution for both the climate change crisis and the economic crisis. His subject is timely as the economy continues to stagnate, prices continue to rise, and the effects of climate change become more and more evident. Ironically, Jones notes in his afterword that when he first began writing the book, "very few people had heard the term 'green collar job'," but by the time the book was published, it was a political buzzword.

I've been seeing this book mentioned all over the Internet, and at first I thought, "That is not a book that would interest me." I figured it would be a heavy read full of economic jargon (read: boring). I don't know why I had that impression because I was completely wrong. Just shy of 200 pages, this book is brisk and pleasant, but at the same time, thought-provoking and inspirational.

Jones proposes that to revive the collapsing economy, the government should establish a Green New Deal by building up the green collar jobs sector in energy, food, waste, water, and transportation. He details how investment in each category would lead to thousands of jobs in technology and labor, and as an added benefit, we would save the planet. Some examples:
  • A group in Milwaukee has come up with a way "to retrofit practically every building in the city to save money and put lots of people to work...Property owners or renters (with landlords' cooperation) receive an audit listing all conservation measures that can be paid for out of energy savings in a given period. They repay the cost of the measures via their utility bill."
  • "The first turbine on Native lands was installed in early 2003 on the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Reservation in South Dakota. It produces enough clean electricity to power over two hundred homes...Rosebud alone aims to produce 50 megawatts by 2010."
  • LaDonna Redmond turned her backyard in Chicago into an urban farm. Neighbors got involved, "one thing led to another, and today the Redmonds' organization, the Institute for Community Resource Development, secures empty lots from the city, oversees a whole network of lots-turned gardens, manages a farmers market, provides technical support and nutritional education, and is planning the opening of a retail store."
  • "A nonprofit in Baltimore called Second Chance launched its architectural salvage and deconstruction services in 2003. Over the next four years, the company grew quickly, filling a 120,000-square foot warehouse space and engaging more than 50 employees - three deconstruction crews and a retail store crew."
The most inspiring chapter for me was Jones' analysis of the division between the environmental movement and the social justice movement. He asserts that the two sides need to come together, creating a powerful forward-looking group that would be able to solve both environmental and social problems. Environmentalists would benefit from the grassroots growth, and workers in social justice would benefit from the establishment of green jobs. He used the term "environmental justice activists," which is not a term I've heard before but perfectly describes the type of activist-thinking that I'm drawn to.

My only criticism of this book is that it focused so much on how the government (rather than the average joe) can build up the green jobs sector, boost the economy, and solve the climate crisis. Jones' ideas would make a great handbook for President Obama, Governor Bev Perdue, or Mayor Meeker, but they are less useful for the average person, like me, for example. I kept waiting for him to say, "If you want to see this kind of change in your area, you should..." Write letters to my congressman? Lobby my mayor? Establish my own non-profit? Go door to door handing out copies of The Green Collar Economy? Or just keep doing what I've been doing...

Overall, this was a great book, and I strongly recommend that you read it. And then maybe mail a copy to your mayor.


Update: The winner of the Green Collar Economy giveaway is: Suzannah! Please email your address to consciousshopperblog [at] gmail [dot] com, and I'll ship that right out to you!

15 comments:

suzannah said...

i would really enjoy reading this, especially as you mention he make the connection between enviromental degredation and social justice issues. it is crazy to me how many people fail to see that mistreatment of the planet impacts people--not just trees, whales, etc--and poor people and communities of color, domestically and internationally, are radically and disproportionately affected.

"environmental racism" (in addition to "environmental justice") is another concept definitely worth checking out...

thanks for letting me know about this book.

wildfleur said...

I'm looking forward to reading this...if I don't win the giveaway, off to the library for me. :) Keep up the great work on the blog!!

Green Bean said...

Don't enter me as I've already read the book and done my own giveaway but I wanted to agree with your review. This book was so easy to read, to understand and, frankly, for our government to understand. Hopefully, if nothing else, the controversy surrounding VJ will get people to read his book and then, more likely than not, they'll jump on the Green Jobs bandwagon.

Eco Yogini said...

ouuu, the snippets actually DO sound interesting! You're right, when I read the title I thought the same thing...

I would love to read this book- hope you pick me! :)

I agree that often the big change stuff can be frustrating without something more than just voting as a way for the reader to affect change. but then, reading about how important these political changes can help influence how we vote, and perhaps inspire a few letters :)

I really like what Suzannah said above: "environmental racism"- wow so interesting!

Over Coffee - the green edition said...

What a great review! After reading what you said about the book I think I would be interested in reading it. Thanks for the giveaway and review.

Kim said...

I've been wanting to read this for a while and your review has cemented it. I'd love the chance to win it. Thanks so much!

islandveggie said...

I love reading. Expecially "green" things!!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an interesting read. I'm guessing it specifically refers to a creating a green collar economy in the US, but I'm sure the principles could be applied elsewhere.

Cath

Kelly said...

oh yes. 1) anything writen by a Jones has gotta be good. 2) marrying both movements has gotta be the answer, right? logical sense to me for years. Im very interested in the soloutions proposed.

Deanna said...

I would love to read this and then do a review on one of my blogs. I get so tired of hearing all the negative stuff about the author and would like to add something positive to the conversation.

Mel said...

I'm entering to win!! Hooray!

Elizabeth B said...

Oooh, I'd love a copy. I've been wanting to read this book. :)

Robyn said...

I know that if you liked it, I'll like it. Like wildfleur said, I'm sure I'll be reading it no matter what eventually. Would love a copy. :)

Beth said...

I'm so impressed with Van Jones. Great review. I've been wanting to read his book.

Karen Moser-Booth said...

Great review! I've had this book on my to-read list for the library for awhile.

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