Social justice advocate Van Jones speaks in Madison

Green jobs advocate Van Jones, president and co-founder of the economic reform organization Rebuild the Dream, will deliver the keynote address for the Tales from Planet Earth film festival at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, March 26, at the Barrymore Theater, 2090 Atwood Ave., in Madison. Cosponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate, the event is free and open to the public.

Named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2009, Jones has for more than two decades been an advocate for social justice and a “green economy.” He argues that a clean energy industry can create high-quality jobs and address environmental and social challenges, including unemployment in disadvantaged communities.

In addition to Rebuild the Dream, Jones has co-founded three other organizations: the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights; Color of Change; and Green For All. He also holds an appointment as a distinguished visiting fellow at Princeton University and served as a green jobs advisor to President Obama.

Jones’s keynote speech will highlight themes woven through the environmental film festival, including the promise of a greener economy and the roots of some of Wisconsin’s current labor issues.

“Our festival uses the storytelling power of films to see the environment in new, unexpected ways,” says Nelson Institute Interim Director Gregg Mitman, the festival founder and curator. “The environmental movement is made up of many diverse strands, and has increasingly come to embrace issues of inequality, social justice, and the places where people live, work, and play.”

Tales from Planet Earth is a biennial, free community event organized by the Nelson Institute Center for Culture, History and Environment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This year’s festival runs through March 31 at venues in downtown Madison and on the UW-Madison campus. More than 30 films will be shown and several filmmakers will be here to discuss their work.

Jones will also participate in a panel discussion focusing on green jobs. That event will take place at noon, March 26, at Union South on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.  His day-long visit to Madison is co-sponsored by the UW Law School, the Laurie Carlson Progressive Ideas Forum, and the UW-Madison Office for Equity and Diversity.

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