Learned: Growing the green economy

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(HOST) Commentator Andrea Learned has been thinking about the case for a strong national green economy, and the opportunity she sees for Vermont to celebrate its green business credentials.

(LEARNED) I was lucky enough to catch Van Jones recently at the Vermont Business & Industry Expo.  He was speaking on the Obama administration’s movement to create more green jobs.  

Jones first came to fame as the guy from Oakland who started Green For All, an organization that helps disadvantaged inner-city folks get training for green jobs.  He did that so well, he soon published a book called, "The Green Collar Economy." And finally, just a few months ago, President Obama snapped him up to be his Special Adviser of Green Jobs.  

Anyway, the point Jones made that day, in response to a question about bringing more green work to Vermont, spoke powerfully about how states should be partnering, and not competing, on this front. Jones’ example was how green industry in Vermont could specifically work with former auto industry employees around Detroit.

Yet, this green movement has always seemed to align with living more locally.  We stick within and work for progress close to home. And then, possibly, we expand to the state level. Still – if we as a country want to make the whole system of green jobs work, we actually do have to take the more holistic view.  And  that might be a stretch after being very state-centered for quite some time.

What goes on here in Vermont is so amazing. And sure, we can wish and hope for even more recognition from the rest of the country. But how can we go beyond that to strengthen inter-state connections, and build a more energy efficient country?

To be clear – Jones went on and on about how the administration already views our fair state as a great model for green economy.  We have a lot to be proud of!  

But, what an interesting reminder to ponder:  What exactly is the definition of local when it comes to a green economy?

As local entities working together for the larger good, our United States must all be solidly interconnected in order to create a flow of jobs that may well heal the environment for future generations.

As Jones pointed out in his opening at the Expo – Americans never imagined they’d elect a president with a name like Barack Hussein Obama.  But, we did – and on a platform of paradigm-shifting change.

Now, after having done something that significant, who are we to say that such a united green economy can’t become a reality?

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