Van Jones, Power & Grace

Van Jones was in the Obama Administration for an all too short period in 2009. He was the Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. In that position, he developed policy recommendations to help implement the Obama Administration’s commitment to clean energy jobs. He was forced to “resign” from the White House position thanks to a “prominent cable news personality”. Jones is also the founder of Green For All (NGO) and author of The Green Collar Economy (recently translated into six languages). It’s the definitive book on “green jobs”.

Al Gore, Arianna Huffington, Carl Pope (executive director of the Sierra Club), and Howard Dean are on record singing his praises for his efforts and passion. And now here he is, walking toward me at the Oakland Museum where I’m going to be photographing him for the cover of Oakland Magazine. I know he has two kids, and since I’ve got one munchkin, it seemed like a good place to start as we met. And it was. The passion and love he has for his kids is as deep and serious as his social ideals and commitments.  It then hit me as we walked the 100 yards toward the set at around 50 yards: This dude was meeting with Barack Obama in the White House 22 hours ago! The next 50 yards were not as easy as the first. Could I actually have been dizzy?

The shoot went great. He proved to be incredibly approachable, and man, could he perform! He recalled a speech he gave at one of the inaugural balls (the Green Ball) that he actually fumbled on. (As a rule, Van does not fumble.) He followed the high energy of Michael Franti & Spearhead and kinda got off on the wrong foot. He’s such a dynamic speaker so this was such a rarity. ‘Twas hilarious to hear him recount the story of his speech falling flat.

Always a pleasure photographing someone who can turn it on. Thanks Van. (And thanks to art director, Debbi Murzyn for making this happen! And thanks Tim Daw for “catching me in the act”.)

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