I enjoyed reading the New York Times article about the Entrepreneurial League System (which says that “a separate website for the ELS in Central Louisiana will be launched in May 2007″) and this from a comment on the post about the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement,
We need a have a serious conversation about energy conservation here in Alexandria. Some people don’t like the idea of conserving or changing their lifestyle habits, and for whatever reason, many people continue to buy the junk science perpetuated by the paid operatives of the oil and gas industry.
Then I came across Michele Godard’s recent questions about the stock market on Cenlamedia:
…how does the “little” guy get ahead and learn from what others do? Do you gather what little cash you have and gamble on the stock market using information from big guys like Buffet?
Or let’s take this a step further and relate the idea to the City of Alexandria City utility rates, can we the “little” guy find out what small municipalities like ours are doing and find a better deal?
The separate threads on entrepreneurship, climate change, and intelligent investments for a city like Alexandria came together in my mind to remind me of a figure named Van Jones. I highly suggest you read this interview with Van Jones on Grist.org.
As insightful as he is visionary, Van Jones has developed a strategy for improving the environment while providing poor urban areas with much needed economic activity. We know that the demand for conservation and innovation will continue to grow as energy costs rise in America. To Jones, “there are too many white environmentalists who continue to believe they can fix this problem by themselves.” He suggests creating so-called “green collar” jobs for the economically disadvantaged. The advantages of such a strategy are compelling:
A lot of downward pressure on workers comes from increasingly intense competition with India and China. The good thing about renewable energy is that it’s not going to be Chinese workers putting up solar panels. It’s not going to be workers in India retrofitting buildings so they don’t leak as much energy. Wind that’s blowing in the United States is going to turn those wind turbines, not wind blowing in Asia. There is an opportunity here to do work that can’t be outsourced.
Creative leaders have been developing programs to address the interrelated problems we face in America today, problems that are or will be issues important to Central Louisiana.
The Entrepreneurial League System reminded me of something called the Social Venture Network, which is also based on innovation and good business techniques but focuses on socially and environmentally responsible entrepreneurship. According to Van Jones, “Social Venture Network is home-base for today’s visionary entrepreneurs and activist business leaders.”
Van Jones founded and runs the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, California. While the Social Venture Network recruits business innovators, Ella Baker has a program to recruit and train people from low-income backgrounds to gain the skills necessary to work in an environmentally responsible business. This program is called Reclaim the Future and includes the Oakland Green Jobs Corps. A similar program in the South Bronx is called the Green Workers Cooperatives.