Van Jones: "This Is Not Your Grandma's Environmental Movement Anymore"
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AC: Does that make you more pragmatic than idealistic these days?
VJ: You know, I believe in miracles and the possibility of the miraculous. So pragmatism and realism, optimism versus pessimism, I see myself as kind of orthogonal to all of that. I think that if your heart is right, you can go pretty much anywhere and make a difference. And you'll never know what difference that difference made. Again, my job is to stay somewhat innocent at that level. To try to encourage people and inspire people to do the best they can, today. To stretch a little bit more today. To dream a little bit bigger today.
I watch my friends who have a yoga practice; it's not about "you can't turn your body into a pretzel, so you're fucked up." That's not how it works. You just stretch a little bit more every time, and eventually you can physically do things that you literally could not have done a year earlier. The heart is a muscle, and I feel my job is to keep encouraging people to keep stretching that heart muscle. My belief is that if enough people do that, there will be things that are possible in a year, in 10 years, that are literally impossible today.
Ariane Conrad is a writer and editor based in Oakland, CA. She collaborated with Van Jones on the New York Times bestselling The Green Collar Economy (Harper One, 2008), and with Christabel Zamor on HOOPING! (forthcoming from Workman Publishing in June 2009).