Guest post by Joshua Buswell-Charkow, Executive Director of Green Corps. Joshua talks about Green Corps’ one-year training program and its impact on organizers and our planet’s health.
Indonesia’s rainforests are home to the last 400 Sumatran tigers on the planet and forests that store more carbon than the entire world emits over nine years. Unfortunately, thousands of acres of rainforest are being ripped up to make way for large-scale palm oil plantations as an additive for products like cereals and snack foods.
In the fall of 2013, a team of four Green Corps organizers worked on behalf of the Forest Heroes campaign to convince Kellogg’s CEO John Bryant to be a “forest hero”. They wanted Kellogg’s to leverage their partnership with Wilmar International (the company responsible for the most deforestation) to end rainforest destruction. We sent an organizer named Margaret Kran-Annexstein to launch the effort right in the hometown of Kellogg’s: Battle Creek, Michigan.
Margaret came to us with a degree in International Studies from American University. She always knew she wanted to make our world a better place. By her senior year, she realized that one of the best ways to fix problems like global climate change starts in our own country, by involving more people in the democratic process.
When Margaret heard about Green Corps, she knew the organization could help her achieve that. After our introductory three week classroom training, where she learned how to recruit leaders, work with the media, and develop her public speaking skills, Margaret was sent off to Battle Creek.
Word quickly spread about the Forest Heroes campaign because of Margaret’s work. More than 60 local residents attended the first campaign meeting, garnering a feature story on the front page of the local paper. Then 11 weeks in, Margaret and the Forest Heroes team held an event in front of Kellogg’s headquarters that was covered by the Associated Press and more than 90 news outlets across the country with the headline: “Activists to Kellogg’s: Save Tigers, Drop Palm Oil.”
Shortly after the rally, Wilmar International publicly announced a forest policy that commits them to an immediate end to deforestation. Kellogg’s Company followed suite in February with their own policy around sustainably sourced palm oil.
This story illustrates the impact of Green Corps. Not only was Margaret instrumental in forcing one of the world’s least sustainable companies to stop destroying critical rainforests, but she also grew as an individual. Before Green Corps, she never would have thought she could drop into an unfamiliar place and launch a campaign to stop rainforest destruction in Indonesia. Thanks to her experience, Margaret will be joining Green Corps as a “Lead Organizer” next year to train others just like her.
To learn more about our work in recruiting and training organizers, go to www.greencorps.org.