Green Corps

Dear Green Corps Class of 2003:

Green Corps just fired me, along with Daniel Gross. Like Dan Compton, D.G., Natalie Brumberley, Katie Renshaw, and Kaitlin Nichols I was purged from Green Corps. Since October training I was placed on ultimatum, which essentially meant that I was singled out to be terminated. Green Corps’ reason for firing me, according to Naomi, was do to my "overall job performance," inability to work with staff supervisors," and that I was not "working in the best interest of Green Corps." While there was a small element of truth to this, and I made some mistakes during my campaign, I attempted to learn, achieved a large number of my goals, and did my best to correct my shortcomings.

I was not fired because I do not like organizing. I was not fired from Green Corps because I disagree with their mission. In fact I strongly support it—-we need more organizers, because organizing is truly the most effective way to achieve social change. While I was vocal about what I objected to within the organization, that objection was out of a fundamental belief in Green Corps and its stated goal to win campaigns and train environmental leaders.

I want every member of Green Corps 2003 to know that I will dearly miss you. You are all amazing people and I deeply value having known you. I have no doubt that all of you will excel in each of your campaigns and whatever you choose to do following your tenure with Green Corps. I learned so much from each of you.

I took this position with Green Corps believing it was a progressive organization that valued its employees’ impute. I was mistaken. I believed that Green Corps was an organization that treated its employees fairly. I was mistaken. I believed that I had signed a contract, which, barring any flagrant violations, would entitle me to a job for a year. I was mistaken. I joined Green Corps believing it was an organization that prioritized fighting and winning environmental campaigns rather than an organization that forced its members to fit a certain, very narrow, definition of activism. I was mistaken. I believed I had joined an organization that recognized the importance of diversity and strove to attain it. I was mistaken.

I do not believe Green Corps values democracy. This was evident during both August and October training. While Green Corps Central Staff pretended to listen during debriefings it was clear to me from the start that they did not consider anything we said seriously. This a priori assumption that employees do not have anything to contribute to the functioning of their place of employment is dangerous and unproductive and certainly runs against the grain of “progressivism.”

It dismays me that Green Corps fired members early in the August training before employees could demonstrate their potential for success and then "disappeared" them in the middle of the night with scant explanation. It dismays me that Green Corps promised people a job, did not provide any contract, and then terminated them, or demoralized them to the point of quitting. It is scandalous that people like Kaitlin, D., Natalie, Katie, and Dan, all dedicated and skilled organizers, were purged from Green Corps.

This certainly does not fall in line with what Cesar Chavez, John Lewis, Saul Alinski, John Steinbeck, Mother Jones, and Dolores Huerta battled for. This certainly does not fall in line with building a broad-based environmental movement.

I find it very bizarre that an organization that prides itself on being part of the “progressive left” and delineates success in the form of numerical goals refuses to implement any numerical goals for diversity. A small structural recruiting requirement would not derail Green Corps’ mission. I think it would enhance it and broaden the environmental movement.

It is sad that Green Corps refuses to make small changes that would improve it as an organization. Green Corps’ goal of “training the next generation of environmental leaders” is important and admirable. Unfortunately I believe the process by which they do it pushes many potential environmental leaders away. This is unfortunate. The environmental movement needs to be inclusive.

I want to say goodbye to everyone and thank you for demonstrating to me that there are people who will make a positive change in our environment. I wish all of you the best of luck.

Don’t Mourn—Organize.

Nathaniel Miller