Van Jones Paints The Economy Green

Note: In honor of Social Venture Network’s 25-year anniversary, the network is inducting 25 of its most innovative and influential leaders into its hall of fame Nov. 13 at Gotham Hall in New York City. To recognize these sustainable business pioneers, SVN’s news program, ‘Sustainable Solutions,’ is interviewing the hall-of-famers to celebrate their accomplishments and learn what more needs to be done. Read the whole series here.

Van Jones is being inducted into Social Venture Network’s (SVN) Hall of Fame as an Economic Justice Maverick, but the green economy champion says he owes a lot to the network for helping him understand the role business plays in creating positive change.

Van was in his 20s when he first attended a SVN meeting at the invite of the network’s co-founder Josh Mailman. The Yale-trained lawyer and founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights remembers at the time thinking only nonprofit and government activities could advance social change.

Attending the SVN meeting, where he recalls sitting at the back and “feeling completely intimidated by the level of genius, passion and accomplishment in the room,” Van began to shift his perspective on entrepreneurship.

“I had never heard of triple-bottom line businesses,” recalls Van.

“Being in the conversation with SVN showed me that we had a much bigger toolkit to make change, and that some of our most effective change-makers are actually in the private sector.”

As a result, Van began to champion the green economy as the solution to multiple problems — a failing U.S. economy and the devastated environment.

He was heartened to see the ideas find resonance in unexpected places like urban America. Van went on to write The Green Collar Economy, which became a New York Times bestseller, propelling the green jobs agenda into the national conversation.

The book is now used in 100 U.S. universities and is translated into more than six languages.

The book also led Van to co-found Green for All, a national organization that develops strategies to improve the environment while creating good jobs that allow people to support their families.

He was named one of Time magazine’s  “Heroes of the Environment” and Fast Company called him one of the “12 Most Creative Minds of 2008.”

In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed him Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

For his work in championing solutions that both rescue the economy and the environment, SVN will pay tribute to Van at its Hall of Fame celebration Nov. 13. The network is recognizing its Top 25 change-makers to mark its 25-year anniversary.

Van, whose most recent book is a manifesto on rebuilding the American dream, says being honored by a group who played an influential role in his own development “is a pretty incredible feeling.”


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Environmental Pioneer Van Jones: Let’s Rebuild the Dream

How Ashoka is Making Everyone a Changemaker



Ruth R.
Ruth R5 years ago

I Like the thought! Thank You,

Ronald Nichols
Ronald Nichols6 years ago

Ugh! I get people all the time saying he's a communist pinko... The 50's called, they want their hatred back.

Grace Adams
Grace Adams6 years ago

Too bad Van Jones is not too big to fail.

Monica D.
Monica D6 years ago

Thank you for this informative article. I hope that this work will help create a greener economy.

Vicky P.
Vicky P6 years ago


Spirit Spider
Spirit Spider6 years ago

Beautiful work. Well done Van Jones! :-)

Danuta Watola
Danuta W6 years ago

Thanks for the information

Irene J.
Irine L6 years ago

awesome, should be more people interested in green economy though or preserving the environment in general...this planet's inhabitants are motivated by greed, not the well being of this planet and ultimately themselves...will look up more info on him, maybe even get his book...thanks for posting

Penny C.
penny C6 years ago


Michael Kirkby
.6 years ago

Excellent choice and congratulations Van. One thing I could never understand is that with all the people unemployed and collecting social assistance; how come the states don't start green clean-up programs? There are rivers and lakes and landfills to be cleaned up. There are things that could be recycled from land fills. This would employ a lot of people from state to state and help resucitate the economy; not to mention the ego boost for the guy who wants to work but can't find it. Then planet would thank us too.
Of course if we had garbage conversion plants such as Sweden does we could be utilizing our garbage and detritus to produce viable, alternative energy. Of course you need invertor units to convert the alternative energy to the existing hydro power grids but isn't that an economical investment that down the line will pay investments? Why aren't the politicians and business leaders talking about this especially at election time?