Green Corps

What follows is a letter written in response to being fired, by Daniel Gross.

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your courage throughout the ordeal that is Green Corps. As you all know by now, that ordeal has now ended for me. To be honest it feels good to be realigned with my own internal moral compass.

On Monday Heather Smith came to Miami for a site visit. She arrived in the office, I gave her hug and welcomed her to Florida. Matt, Diana, and I all had meetings scheduled with Heather. Mine was last. From the faces of my friends after their meeting I knew something was dreadfully wrong. Then it was my turn. The first thing she said was that I had to leave the program.

I didn’t believe everything told to us by Leslie Samuelrich and the rest of central staff throughout the year. But one thing I really did believe was that getting fired was a process, it didn’t happen out of nowhere. I believed as was related to us on several occasions that the process was first warning, ultimatum, and finally termination with the chance of improving the performance in question along the way. I was denied this process completely. Central staff gave me absolutely no warning that I was at risk of termination. I asked Heather why I was denied this process. She responded that the decision had already been made and a process would have been disingenuous.  I asked for specifics about why I had been fired. I was given only abstractions like, “you weren’t acting in the best interest of Green Corps and this is the best decision for the organization.”

Only one thing weighs heavily on my heart as I write this to you. That is the thought of missing out on the camaraderie we share. When one arrives at life’s end, looking back it’s not the money or career that are important, it’s the people.  I know the sweet memories amidst the hardships will continue to come to me in my dreams. What times we’ve had, thank you all!

Thanks to Justin for a conspiratorial discussion of game theory on day one and your eloquent remarks at both trainings; to Kate for your whimsical intellectualism and that sincere hug after the first debrief; to Josh for your love of natural spaces and your heartfelt support; to Udi for your spiritual activism and purity of purpose; to Diana for our noble effort to bring clean energy to Florida; to Erica for your unwavering positive disposition; to Byron for sharing the fruits of Dharma with the environmental movement; to Kim for representing the SFT stable of activists so well; to Orli for those powerful activist songs; to Max for seeing the world as it is; to Vanessa for your love of this work and our conversations on the deficiencies of Neoliberal economics; to Katie Mae for your courage in the face of wanton unjustness; to Adriana for the justice you now demand; to Karla for surmounting great challenges to become an organizer; to Sara for your unrelenting concern for your dear friend who was fired after just five days; to Emily for your uncompromising good cheer; to Matt for your dedication to organizing and for honoring your lost friend with such dignity; to Hillary for embracing the art of organizing; to Anna for your noble goals; to Liz for your goodness and for being a team player; to Faith for that wonderful combination of effectiveness and kindness and the haircut at the first training; and to Jay for your unwavering forthrightness and honesty.

Of course the names of those fired or forced out of the program are missing. For them, I have a very special apology. You must know that when you were fired, or not given a placement, or given unrealistic goals, or whatever the excuse was, I knew it was wrong. I felt it to core of my being. I did speak out for you, I tried to honor the words of the martyred Archbishop Romero, “speak truth to power.” But I knew the only way to truly right the wrong done to you was to demand a contract so what happened to you wouldn’t happen to anyone else. So while I did take a strong stand on your behalf, I also made lofty excuses about having enough projects to deal with and I never made the effort toward substantive change via a contract. I failed you, and now they’ve fired me. I am so sorry.  Please know your memories empower me and I won’t fail others in the future the way I failed you.

As I bid you farewell, I am proud of standing up for protection against arbitrary termination and for diversity. Losing my job is the price I have to pay, but so be it; as the Dalai Lama says, “great love requires great risk.”  In my own tiny way, I hope I've done justice to the blood of martyrs like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Joe Hill, Oscar Romero, and Mahatma Gandhi. The most important thing you must know is I’m available to all of you in any capacity at any time.  Please know that I will work tirelessly on your behalf
should you ever need something. Please don’t let them harm our friendship. Best of luck in all your future endeavors, and remember that Fortune favors the brave.

In Solidarity,

Daniel Gross