Interventions in Climate Organizing

Co-facilitators: A. Laurent, P. Madrigal, and N. Mburu



The first session in the “Interventions” module, this session was designed to assist participants in understanding racialization in climate organizing. During a 3-hr workshop with the Conversations team, Laurent, Madrigal, and Mburu led the group through a critical investigation of the role played by race in the climate movement.

Experimenting with a semi-satirical tool published by and for environmentalists

Reflecting on barriers people of colour face in the climate movement

Assessing the the staff composition of climate groups



Semi-satirical test: “What kind of environmentalist are you?”

Participants all took the “What kind of environmentalist are you?” quiz (Samantha Larson). Laurent, Madrigal, and Mburu then led the group through a brief discussion on the universal whiteness of the kinds of environmentalists illustrated in the quiz, the ways in which the quiz is representative of social views on environmentalism, and the material and political implications of these views.



Reflecting on race in climate organizing: case studies from Flint, Michigan and Toronto, Ontario

To illustrate the implications of racial bias in climate organizing, Laurent, Madrigal, and Mburu discussed the example of water quality in Flint, Michigan. The co-facilitators then shared a quick recap of “‘Participation,’ White Privilege and Environmental Justice: Understanding Environmentalism Among Hispanics in Toronto” by Hilary Gibson-Wood and Sarah Wakefield, with a particular emphasis on the unique positionality of Latinx people in the city of Toronto. Participants then divided into groups to reflect on “white environmentalism” and barriers faced by people of colour in climate organizing more broadly.



Racialization in mainstream environmental organizations

To analyze the staff composition of major environmental organizations, co-facilitators invited participants to guess the percentage of staff in the top 40 environmental organizations who identify as people of colour. These estimates were then compared to the actual percentage of staff identifying as people of colour, serving as the basis of a conversation on the ways in which environmental groups both challenge and perpetuate racial bias in the climate movement. Data was drawn from “The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations” by Dorceta E. Taylor.

Data was illustrated on a “garden” prepared in advance by co-facilitators (shown below). Participants made particular note of the relative prevalance of racialized people in entry-level positions (e.g. interns), the ubiquity of white people in positions of power (e.g. board members), and the consistently high percentage of people of colour in fundraising roles.