“What is the most surprising thing about working at Greenpeace?” I asked a new colleague at work the other day. She looked to the side and took a moment before she replied. She finally turned to me and said: “The most surprising thing is Greenpeace staff: there is nothing really shocking about them. They are…normal.”
I immediately understood what my colleague was referring to. When I joined Greenpeace three years ago I expected to see more people who looked like me, with long beards, shirts with flowers on them and so on. Actually what I found here were scientists, intellectuals, some of the best communications specialists and interestingly enough, people from the business community: an eclectic community made up of people with a wide variety of skills and maybe most importantly, with an infinite passion for our planet.
People gravitate to Greenpeace because we’re not an organisation that talks and talks; we take the action that needs to be taken. I think for young people in particular, the fact that we’re willing to do this rather than just talk is something that resonates very strongly with them and makes us “real” in their eyes. But it’s not everyday that we climb oil rigs or disrupt high level meetings to get our messages across. Most of us at Greenpeace spend eight hours or more a day working on our computers in the office; we all feel empowered and engaged directly in the fight to save the environment by the actions taken by our staff and our many volunteers worldwide.
I encourage you to take another look at what we do here at Greenpeace, if you haven’t already. I’m certain you’ll find something unexpected – like I did.
Kumi Naidoo is the Executive Director at Greenpeace International.