Interview with Van Jones: Rebuilding the Dream in Detroit, Part 3

[This is the third in a three-part inteview with Van Jones, who delivered the keynote address in Detroit, Mich., on April 30, 2014, to attendees of the ACI National Home Performance Conference.  The full interview is posted in three consecutive blogs. Click here to read Part 1. Click here to read Part 2.]

TW: I’d like to bring you back to the vision statement you mentioned in your plenary speech today at ACI. I was moved to hear you remind us about Martin Luther King Jr. first speaking about his famous dream, when he came to Detroit [before the March on Washington]. There are six kids from Detroit Youthbuild who are here at ACI, some of whom have been homeless, and they are here on scholarships. I’m wondering: What kind of dream can we hope for the people of Detroit?

VJ: Everybody says it, but it’s true: Detroit built the middle class. The middle class was invented in Detroit, and Detroit gave America its dream. When you have a big breakdown, you can have a big breakthrough. Look at your own life: It’s those really bad days that open the door to some really good days. You’ve got a lot of breakdown here in Detroit, but it opens the door for some real breakthroughs.

We always talk about the downside of these [unemployed] kids, how bad it is for these kids, if they can’t find a job. That’s the least of our problems; it’s bad for the country! Some of these kids are brilliant, good hearted, smart, tough, resilient, dealing with more than most of us do these days. I think they’re the resource we can’t afford to lose sight of.

The reinvention of Detroit—distributed food production, urban farming, community gardening, greenhouses—they’re big opportunities. There will be distributed goods production, as some of these very skilled people who are either here, or have roots here, start getting their heads wrapped around 3D printers, and the craftsmanship involve in that. The maker movement—for lack of a better term—is getting more inter-penetrated with some of the African American working-class folks and others who know how to build things. There is an inter-penetration that can happen, we can have an explosion of craft and trade coming out of here, because people know how to make stuff here, and people with roots here will have new tools to make stuff. I’ve no idea what will come out of that. Some distributed goods production, distributed energy production, energy efficiency, solar, micro-wind—a lot of that could be cradled here.

All these homes about to be knocked down [in Detroit], there’s a huge opportunity to reclaim copper and glass, and all kinds of stuff out of that. You can load it and crush it all down to nothing, but that’s the dumbest way to do it, and that’s a lot of what they’re talking about. It’s short-term smart and long-term stupid. Doors and moldings—that stuff you can sell, and you can make a ton of money, because we’re doing un-building here, and they’re having a big building boom over there.

I see a lot of possibility [in Detroit]. It takes leadership, it takes determination, it takes a lot of prayer, it takes a lot of willingness to grow. I see a lot of pain, but I see more promise than pain in Detroit.

Views: 111


You need to be a member of Home Energy Pros to add comments!

Join Home Energy Pros


  • Add Videos
  • View All


Latest Activity

Home Energy Magazine posted a blog post
8 hours ago
Noah Ray Sanders replied to Steve Mann's discussion TEC Blower Door Frame in the group Energy Auditing Equipment for Sale, Trade or to Purchase
"If so please contact me 8329717862 or email"
12 hours ago
Noah Ray Sanders replied to Steve Mann's discussion TEC Blower Door Frame in the group Energy Auditing Equipment for Sale, Trade or to Purchase
"Do you still have the frame?"
12 hours ago
Noah Ray Sanders replied to Joe Urycki's discussion TEC blower door and UEI combustion analyzer for sale in the group Energy Auditing Equipment for Sale, Trade or to Purchase
"Do you still have equip?"
12 hours ago
Noah Ray Sanders joined allen p tanner's group

Energy Auditing Equipment for Sale, Trade or to Purchase

Discuss the pros and cons of the equipment you are interested in prior to purchase. Post equipment…See More
12 hours ago
Tom White's video was featured

Retrofitting Vintage Home for Energy Efficiency

A presentation by Greg Labbé in April 2014 on retrofitting vintage home for energy efficiency. He talked about basic building science, brick houses, movement of heat energy and moisture in and out of the house, air barrier and water barrier, house…
16 hours ago
Sam Goode is now a member of Home Energy Pros
Tina Gleisner commented on Tom White's video

How to Insulate a Tiny House (or a Big Fat House)

"Really like how Corbett tells his story in a simple manner that homeowners should be able to…"

© 2016   Created by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service