The Big Picture –
By Glynn Wilson –
TACOMA PARK, Md. — Camped out in the media van surrounded by a foot of snow, there’s finally time and space in the schedule to reflect a little on the events of the past week and look ahead for a few minutes at the future.
The plan was to be rolling back down the MoJo road toward the Hungry Mother State Park campground on Thursday night, then on back down to Birmingham by Friday. But a mega winter storm blew down from Canada on the polar vortex, hit the Gulf Coast and then swept back east through the American South. Along the way it hammered cities like Memphis and then raged up the East Coast, blanketing the nation’s capitol and shutting down the federal government.
But a day or two off from work for snow is not entirely a bad thing. Snow is a beautiful thing, and life in the modern bustle of running a government and a working life can benefit from a little more beauty in the world.
Meanwhile down at the Washington Hilton this week, a large gathering of labor and environmental activists put out a plan for the next year on how to make the world even more beautiful, in more ways than one. It’s hard to enjoy the beauty if you are having a hard time making a decent living because changes in technology threaten your livelihood.
If you are a life-long photographer and are feeling the pinch from smart phone cams, you know what I mean. The same is true for the union workers who build and maintain the nation’s power infrastructure, so they are getting onboard the climate change train, hoping for some help to transition beyond coal to natural gas, or better yet, wind and solar.
You can catch all of our coverage of the BlueGreen Alliance Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference in this new New American Journal.
While the stated theme of the conference this year was defined broadly as “Repairing America,” with speech after speech hammering home this idea that if labor and environmental activists could put aside their differences and work together in a political coalition, it would actually be possible to fix our systemic economic problems by setting out to save the world from the growing catastrophe of climate change — coupled with economic disruption.
Listening to all the main speakers again in the videos, another underlying theme becomes clear. Some of the top environmentalists in the country, even in the administration, are counseling a smart, balanced approach to solutions in the interest of getting key workers onboard the larger struggle. What I’m hearing between the lines, for example, is that it is not smart to just radically oppose all hydraulic fracking operations on private land and every pipeline that moves fossil fuels. Some of the pipelines need to be rebuilt and upgraded for environmental reasons, and doing that would provide a lot of high paying, union jobs.
The elephant in the room, the Keystone XL Pipeline being built and opposed to transport dirty tar sands oil to the Gulf Coast for refining, was largely kept under wraps behind a big blue and green curtain. It’s one of those big wedges that capitalism generates to keep people with many common interests split apart, looking askance at one another across the big banquet room of life.
But everyone from Leo Gerard of the United Steelworkers and Richard Trumka with the AFL-CIO to Michael Brune of the Sierra Club and Gina McCarthy, speaking for the Obama administration, embraced this idea and insisted it not only can work. It must work.
Yet it’s not going to work unless not just some union workers and environmentalists get this message. The mass public must get this information in a big way they can act on. The problem is they are not going to get it from traditional sources of news in America, because the other elephant in the room, the bigger elephant, is the growing corporate juggernaut that is even expanding and dominating the news, brushing this little BlueGreen Alliance not just off the front page, but into a virtual oblivion.
Just as I was wrapping up my basic on-the-ground reporting on the Green Jobs conference, hanging in the snow in Tacoma Park just north of Washington, it was announced that Comcast had put forward a plan to swallow up Time Warner Cable. When the news broke, my good friend Brooks Boliek was working on that story in the camper van at the same time I was breaking news on the Obama administration’s response to the public pressure against fracking. His Verizon WiFi went down, but the WiFi Hotspot in the van saved the day.
The American public, the citizenry, really needs to turn off talk radio and Fox News and tune into what we’re doing over here on the Web Press. Speaking of new technology changing the way we work, more people need to get onboard and realize this is also an area of the economy that needs work. We must build this new press and get the word out to people. It’s as critical to our future as plans to deal with climate change and rebuild the nation’s infrastructure with green technology and jobs.
Now for some snow pics…
© 2014, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.