The best word to describe the expression on the faces of Al Gore, Van Jones and the thousands of attendees at last night's Green Inaugural Ball is "euphoria" -- that look you get when you've been working on something your entire life and after feeling like you're getting nowhere, suddenly success is at hand. In some ways the ball, chaired by Al Gore and represented by over 75 environmental, labor, business, civil justice and community organizations, was like a giant family reunion. People working in a diversity of fields -- from cleantech to environmental activism, eco business to green building -- gathered together with a sense of anticipation and enthusiasm that at last "our time has come" (a phrase I heard a lot throughout the night).
It is true, our time has come, and though everyone was happy to be inaugurating both a new green-friendly president and a new green economy, there was still a sense that "our work is just about to begin" (another phrase I heard a lot). All that hard work over the past 20 years in a political climate less than conducive to environmental and social progress, was just to get us to this point -- boot camp so to speak. Now, as Al Gore said, "We all need to roll up our sleeves," a sentiment that Obama himself used when announcing the 19th as a National Day of Service. It's clear that there is a lot of hard work to do, but now there's a difference. Obama is here and a sea change is at hand.
Rhone Resch, head of the Solar Energy Industries Association, talked about the creation of 800,000 jobs in the solar sector alone. Van Jones talked about the creation of 2 million jobs in the building retrofit and construction (green collar) industries. And Al Gore spoke of the climate crisis, as an opportunity to unite the movement in a common cause and an opportunity to solve a looming economic crisis in one feel swoop. The event was optimistic, but there was a feeling I had when walking through the beautiful rooms of the Smithsonian American Art Musem, that the environmental movement has matured as a whole and given the "political will" on Capitol Hill, will be able to make some serious progress in the coming months and years of the Obama presidency.
The highlight of the event was the debut of a new single from Will.i.am who was invited by Al Gore, after his immense success with the viral Obama video, to come up with a song about the environment. Here is the tune and the new video just posted on DipDive:
In conjunction with the Green Inaugural Ball, a Green Economy Network (GEN) website (which I helped out on) just went live, featuring video and blogs about the emerging green economy.