Meet Jade Wiles: EDF Action’s Organizer Building Grassroots Power for Climate Action in Georgia
On an August afternoon in Atlanta, over 50 people gathered for a discussion on electric vehicles, clean energy, and climate justice. Participants came from all different walks of life; there were grassroots activists, elected officials, industry professionals, teachers, parents, and youth leaders. With a shared passion for environmental advocacy, they all came together to express their support for bold climate legislation and investments in clean energy.
EDF Action hosted this event, in partnership with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, to highlight the need for Congress to address climate change, reduce pollution, and accelerate the urgently needed transition to clean energy and transportation. Jade Wiles, EDF Action’s Georgia organizer, spent months planning; securing speakers, recruiting participants, and managing logistics. The event left him feeling inspired; “it was so incredible to see people so excited [about climate action] and eager to be a part of the conversation… building relationships with people in the community is what made this event an absolute success.”
Jade started organizing three years ago, while living in Washington, D.C. after receiving his Masters degree from Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland. Surrounded by the buzz of politics in D.C., Jade began engaging with advocacy efforts; he worked with a labor union, served in the Mayor’s office, and registered voters for the 2020 presidential election and the Georgia Senate run-off.
Jade’s passion lies at the intersection of justice, equity, and climate action. In Georgia, he has welcomed the opportunity to embrace people of all identities and backgrounds in the environmental advocacy movement. When asked what he’s learned from his time as an EDF Action organizer, Jade mentioned the diversity and rapid growth of the climate action community. He said, “So many people from all different backgrounds support this work… We’re fighting for climate action, and that impacts all of us.”
Jade joined EDF Action having never worked in the climate space, but he recognized the urgency of this moment. As he puts it, “this was a new challenge for me… but we have this opportunity to pass once-in-a-generation climate legislation, so why would I not want to be a part of that?”
From his years of advocacy experience, Jade has cultivated an organizing philosophy centered on leadership development, partnership, and connection. Jade believes that organizing is — at its core — empowerment. He aims to give EDF Action volunteers the tools they need to develop advocacy skills, become leaders, and serve as organizers in their own communities. As Jade said, “I want to empower people to have a voice in their community… As an organizer, I want my volunteers to be the leaders of this movement.”
One volunteer leader in Georgia, Opal Baker, joined EDF Action as an Ambassador during the 2020 election cycle. Since Opal was young, she’s had a passion for engaging with the natural world; growing up in Jamaica, Opal developed an affinity for oceans, forests, and wildlife. Now, Opal experiences the severe impacts of pollution in her own small town, as nearby industrial sites have been emitting toxic chemicals for years on the border of East Point. Given her experience, Opal is inspired to take action on a local level; as she says, “this work starts where you live… we need to link arms from one town to the next, and work together to see sustainable change.” As a volunteer leader with EDF Action, Opal organizes weekly local activist meetings, plans neighborhood events, and coordinates partnerships. She recognizes that now is a vital moment to advocate for intersectional, bold change; “We’re not waiting for climate change to get here. It’s here, and a lot of people are suffering because of the effects of it.”
In Georgia, EDF Action continues to build a robust, diverse movement for climate advocacy. This month, Jade, Opal, and other environmental activists are planning visibility events near congressional district offices, hosting rallies, organizing activist meetings, and engaging directly with Members of Congress and their staff. With Congress considering once-in-a-generation investments in clean energy infrastructure, EDF Action’s Georgia team is more motivated than ever to advocate, mobilize, and urge lawmakers to take bold action.
We will be running a series of posts on EDF Action’s grassroots work and the organizers leading the charge in key states and congressional districts! Check back on Wednesday for our next installment in this series. To learn more about how to take action in Georgia, contact Jade at email@example.com or join our EDF Action Georgia Facebook group.