Vermont Press Releases

Van Jones to inspire, entertain, at VNRC’s 50th


Contact: Jake Brown, Communications Director/Legislative Liaison
Vermont Natural Resources Council
802-223-2328 x111

September 11, 2012

MONTPELIER, Vt – Acclaimed author and social and environmental activist Van Jones will join VNRC at its 50th anniversary celebration as keynote speaker September 22 at Shelburne Farms.

Jones is president and co-founder of Rebuild the Dream, a platform for bottom-up, people-powered innovations to help fix the U.S. economy. He has a 20-year track record as a successful, innovative and award-winning social entrepreneur.

“I look forward to coming to the Green Mountain State this fall, helping VNRC celebrate 50 years, and share my vision for a new, greener, American Dream for all,” Jones said.

A Yale-educated attorney, Jones worked as the green jobs advisor to the Obama White House in 2009. There, he helped run the inter-agency process that oversaw $80 billion in green energy recovery spending.
In 2005, the World Economic Forum named Jones a Young Global Leader. TIME magazine named him a global environmental hero in 2008 and the next year TIME said he was one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Founded in 1963, VNRC is one of the state’s oldest Vermont-based environmental groups.

“VNRC has been leading Vermont to world-wide recognition for five decades, protecting and restoring Vermont’s natural resources and communities and educating, motivating and activating Vermonters to champion all that we love about the great state of Vermont,” said Elizabeth Courtney, VNRC’s legacy program director and former executive director. “And Van Jones, with his powerful, forward-thinking message and inspired delivery is the perfect speaker to launch us into our next 50 years.”

Also on hand at the event will be VNRC’s well-known environmental advisors: Canadian author and activist Maude Barlow, Vermont smart growth visionary John Ewing, author and climate activist Bill McKibben, Vermont entrepreneur Will Raap, and World Resources Institute founder and Vermont law school professor Gus Speth.
The event will feature lively music, as well as local food and brew.
VNRC is expecting six to seven hundred people at the event. A limited number of tickets are available. For tickets go to

For more information about Van Jones

If you read us, please support us.

Comment Policy requires that all commenters identify themselves by their authentic first and last names. Initials, pseudonyms or screen names are not permissible.

No personal harrassment, abuse, or hate speech is permitted. Comments should be 1000 characters or fewer.

We moderate every comment. Please go to our FAQ for the full policy.

Press Release

Recent Stories

  • George Plumb

    “ …protecting and restoring Vermont’s natural resources…” Yes, thanks to Vermont’s environmental leaders for working collaboratively, courageously and creatively in addressing the underlying cause of our environmental problems, population growth, and not just the symptoms it has helped to solve the most critically important environmental problems facing Vermont and the earth. In order of suggested importance here is what they have accomplished.

    1. Out of respect for future generations Vermont’s ecological footprint has decreased rather than being increased so that we are now living sustainably and within our long term carrying capacity even though environmental organizations don’t talk about this because it is too sensitive and too difficult for the average person to comprehend.

    2. The disasters of global heating such as Irene aren’t happening and more relevant for Vermont our state has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions instead of increasing them many times.

    3. Because all life has a right to good and adequate habitat the sixth great extinction isn’t happening and more importantly for Vermont our woods are still loaded with as many song birds as there were then and there are no species on Vermont’s threatened and endangered species list.

    4. Over 200,000 acres of land have not been developed (actually destroyed because there is no biocapacity left) and Vermont forest cover isn’t declining for the first time in more than a century due to population growth and development.

    5. Destructive massive sprawl hasn’t surrounded all of our cities and continue unabated thanks to concept that we can grow forever even though we are running out of Earth’s finite resources. We just have to use “smart growth.” Eban Fodor, the author of Better, Not Bigger, calls smart growth a “myth” but our environmental leaders are smarter than him and he is being proven wrong in Vermont!

    6. Thanks to the expenditure of tens of millions of dollars Lake Champlain is just as swimmable as it was back then.

    7. We still have a rural “working landscape” instead of a suburban residential landscape with at least a dozen small scale dairy farms in each town.

    8. Our mountain tops and pond and lake riparian zones are just as ecologically viable and pristine as they were just a few decades ago.

    9. Invasive species are not coming to Vermont.

    10. Our quality of life has not been diminished by crowdedness, traffic congestion, parcelization and posting of land, scenic degradation, and noise and light pollution.

    After Vermont has spent fifty years and hundreds of millions of dollars, including state and federal funds and private donations, what other accomplishments did I miss?

    Although I would be very surprised to see it happen it would be great to have a post from a Vermont environmental leader stating the actual major environmental accomplishments that they take credit for, where one can find the scientific data supporting that claim, and stating how important those accomplishments are compared to the ten issues listed above. The only major improvements to the environment that I can think of are some reductions in water and air pollution thanks primarily to federal clean air and water legislation and mandatory recycling has helped reduce the amount of material going into landfills. The preservation of some land through conservation easements, thanks to the land trusts, is also an accomplishment but the land was just fine before the population began to grow and development that doesn’t happen in one place just ends up happening someplace else so the net gain is not as strong as we would hope it would be.

    Sadly, despite their large financial and staff resources, no major environmental organization has produced a comprehensive and scientific Vermont environmental trends report showing exactly what is happening to Vermont’s environment and they have even refused to acknowledge the existence of reports produced by any other organization! Wonder why? If you would like to know the real environmental trends go to the reports section of Vermonters for Sustainable Population web site at

    I would love to have an environmental leader take a twenty-five mile ride from Montpelier to Washington with me. For every one place that they might be able to show me where the environment has been protected and restored I will be able to show dozens of places where it has been totally destroyed or severely damaged. And restored, I am not aware of any place where a development has been torn down and replanted to a forest!

    If anyone would like to have an objective and in depth discussion about the true health of Vermont’s environment I would be happy to travel to anyplace in Vermont to have that discussion. I also have a power point slide talk on “What is a Sustainable Population Size for Vermont” and an excellent new movie, Hooked on Growth by that I am happy to show followed by a discussion. Just contact me at [email protected]

  • George Plumb

    There is another factor that needs to be discussed. While it is certainly true that population growth is the underlying cause of all of our environmental problems and continued population growth is why our environmental situation keeps getting worse there is also a broader understanding of how nature works that must be kept in mind and factored into how we deal with solving environmental problems. The “natural world” actually consists of a set of complex and interdependent eco systems. Each system has probably thousands of components.

    What environmental organizations do is to carve out one little aspect of the system and work on that so they hopefully can claim some success and raise more money. For example, they have protected a major amount of land but species are still in dramatic decline. They put a limit on one form of pollution such as water pollution by supporting the installation and improvement of municipal sewerage treatment plants but the pollution of Lake Champlain keeps on getting worse. We can’t just deal with one little part of the system. We have to consider the entire system. Piecemeal ecology isn’t working. As the executive director of Greenpeace Kumi Naidoo said at the 40th anniversary of Greenpeace, “We are winning a lot of battles but we are losing the war.” Would Vermont’s environmental leaders be so courageous to speak the truth.

    We have to take a “whole system thinking” approach to solving our environmental problems which means that we are going to have to change our own systems such as changing a growth forever economy to a steady-state economy. For a fuller explanation see “Re-examining our approach to ecology” by Rex Weyler at

  • Lisa Sammet

    I salute VNRC for all it has done in the last 50 years. Surely, things would be a lot worse in Vermont if VNRC didn’t exist. I do think though, as George Plumb states, that VNRC and other environmental organizations don’t speak out about the deleterious effects of population. We have overpopulated the world. Without oil we wouldn’t be able to feed everyone. Vermont can’t feed itself. In front of us is the great, and terrifying collision of overpopulation, climate change and peak oil (Peak Everything as Richard Heinberg puts it). Overpopulation is driving the other problems into ever greater extremes. All environmentalists should be talking about population.