Green Jobs for Justice, Labor Organizing, and the Catholic Faith

A guest post from CLN Member Milka Kiriaku

The work that I do within the environmental climate justice movement, seeing as it is deeply informed by the organized labor movement, has been deeply influenced by faith. As a working Catholic, I strongly believe in helping those who are most marginalized, particularly through their vocation in the world. I have devoted my career to advocacy- whether that be through fair housing organizing or food justice. In recent years, I have begun working on labor organizing around the green job sector for Black and Indigenous People of Color. This work is but an extension of my original belief in a basic dignity of all workers, particularly those in emerging manufacturing occupations.

I do this work through a small nonprofit: Sustainable Georgia Futures. Sustainable Georgia Futures is a grassroots environmental education and labor organizing nonprofit stationed in Atlanta, Georgia. SGF serves people in DeKalb County, Clayton County, and Fulton County. As a part of the Justice40 coalition, SGF received direct funding to target green economic growth in communities of color. SGF approaches this work through the lens of relational organizing and federal climate financing. Sustainable Georgia Futures connects low-income to middle-class workers of color to job and internship opportunities in the green sector. Additionally, SGF hires professional organizers and consultants to facilitate group meetings, or “House Meetings,” and to run the Green Fellowship Program. In both the House Meetings and the Fellowship program, recruited partners and hired fellows to engage deeply in workshops about the green sector, environmental climate justice, environmental racism, and climate gentrification in the city of Atlanta.