Oregon Environmental Efforts Reflect Nationwide Trends

The Oregon Climate Action Plan, Executive Order 20-04, was signed in March of this year. Defining the rules that will implement these proposed environmental standards–designing the specifics and practical applications of the standards–is now in progress in Oregon.

Oregon joins the voices and outreach of diverse nationwide groups to establish common ground that will lead to both environmental and economic health for our citizens. Nationwide, environmental groups are forming coalitions with other environmental groups. But also, group previously divided by politics or region are establishing common ground.

For example, Wisconsin farmers and environmental groups are partnering to facilitate the joint efforts and resources of their state. This partner group includes the Dairy Business Association, as well as Clean Wisconsin, The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association.

“Together, our organizations are proposing a set of policy principles to guide lawmakers and the administration in this effort,” says Dairy Business Association President Tom Crave.

The Wisconsin partnering is reported by the mid-western Brownfield Ag News for America. https://brownfieldagnews.com/news/dairy-group-three-environmental-groups-form-water-quality-partnership/

This is where we all agree!
Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

When seeking and establishing common ground, we can learn practical strategies and ideas from other states, like Wisconsin. We can also strengthen the diverse partnerships already being developed in Oregon. As we in Oregon proceed to weigh in on rules to implement our Oregon Climate Action Plan, we aim to leverage our best. We join heart and hard-won efforts of diverse groups in our nation and the world.

Senator Jeff Merkley and the work of the Climate Crisis

Oregon wide follow up meeting for climate legislation THIS Thursday, December 17, at noon. Register here, more information below.

On December 9th, Senator Jeff Merkley addressed an unprecedented gathering of climate leaders, organizations and citizens, attendees of A Climate Convergence, a symposium that brought together Executive Directors, legislators, and grassroots organizers from across the country to talk about climate change. Specifically, to gather together and listen for the express purpose of passing climate change legislation nationally.

Senator Jeff Merkley speaking at Session One of the Climate Convergence symposium on December 9, 2020.

This national effort touches every state and every legislative district. Which means that in Oregon, we are an vital part of the effort.

A number of climate leaders in Oregon have engaged the Climate Crisis Policy effort. Last month climate leaders in Oregon met together to learn more about the Climate Crisis Policy initiative. Then December 9 and 10 folks tuned in to two days of panels which included Oregon’s own Senator Jeff Merkley and Climate Reality Project’s President and CEO, Ken Berlin.

On Thursday, December 17th at noon, the Oregon-wide effort resumes with a meeting to listen again to Senator Merkley’s address and discussion, and talk about what national climate legislation might look life through this initiative from an Oregon perspective.

Register here for the meeting, and please share and invite others you think will be interested. At our first meeting we had a terrific and hope-filled discussion. After the success of the symposium, there is even more to think about and to celebrate.

A big thank you to Senator Jeff Merkley for responding to the requests of Oregon organizers from across the state to speak at the symposium!

A big thank you, also, to the many chapters of the Climate Reality Project across the country who are involved with the Climate Crisis Policy initiative and the climate action effort. Things are moving! And we need everybody.

Questions? Additions? email our chapter.

Climate Convergence–Event

Happening this week! Something unprecedented is happening. On December 9 and 10 Climate organizers, organizations, concerned citizens and elected leaders will come together for a two day conversation looking forward to how to plan and pass policies to protect, preserve and restore this planet with justice and fairness.

The Southern Oregon Chapter of The Climate Reality Project is proud to join other chapters and organizations as a co-sponsor of the event. (A number of Oregonians are involved, please email us if you want to learn more.) Don’t miss Session 4: Policy Sector Coalitions as Ken Berlin, President and CEO of The Climate Reality Project, will be contributing to the panel.

We are also grateful to our Senator Jeff Merkley! Oregon’s climate champion in the senate will be speaking on the first day of the event.

Learn more about the symposium here. Register and Please share!

A Ballad for Climate

Katherine Fredricks
photo by Maria Marsh, used by permission.

Thank you to writer Katherine Fredricks for sharing her story!


In the summer of 1964, 3 civil rights workers were murdered while registering voters in Mississippi.  Civil rights organizers begged singer/activist Harry Belafonte (a close friend of Martin Luther King Jr.) to raise funds to keep their volunteers in the field.

Belafonte organized several benefits and hand delivered more than $70,000 in cash to Mississippi.  The KKK shadowed him from the airport, trying to run the car off the road, and firing guns into the air.  When Belafonte suggested the driver outrun the Klan, the response was, “No, that’s exactly what they want us to do. They got a state trooper up there waiting in his car with the headlights off, ready to arrest us for speeding.  He takes us to the station, lets us out in an hour, and even more of the Klan be waiting for us.  That’s how they work.  That’s how those boys got killed.” 

Belafonte delivered the cash, and led the volunteers in a riotous anthem: “Freedom, freedom.  Freedom come and it won’t be long!” (Read the full story in Belafonte’s biography, “My Song.”)

Whether it’s “We Shall Overcome”, or Billie Holiday’s famous “Strange Fruit,”  music and activism have a long shared history.  But in the decades following the 1960s, activism has been conspicuously absent from the music world.  As Peter, Paul and Mary sang, “But if I really say it, the radio won’t play it.”

Stephen Bennett
Photo by Vanessa Van Burek, used by permission.

Recently, that trend has changed.  Whether it’s parodies of Donald Trump by Randy Rainbow, or “March, March” by the Chicks, protest songs are back!

Composer Stephen Bennett & I had never met before we were partnered in a writing group.  I had just finished temping for a chiropractor whose office got evacuated during the Oregon wildfires.  Stephen has family who were indirectly impacted by the California wildfires.  I have attended several Climate rallies and Stephen saw Greta Thunberg speak in New York last summer.

We started talking about how climate is often represented as a choice between having a life or making a living.  Stephen suggested we write a song about someone who is not a climate “believer,” having an epiphany moment.  So I started wondering, who is having this epiphany? 

Then I remembered seeing a coal miner on TV, saying that his son is a solar installer.  As I researched coal mining, I discovered that cases of black lung disease were up in the last decade.  Which created a problem for this song, because a coal miner suffering from black lung disease cannot sing.  He can barely breathe.

After losing a lot of sleep, I wrote the lyric “I Remember Dad.”  Stephen wrote the awesome music! (Listen on Soundcloud.)  And hey, listen up, renewables are cheaper!  Having a life vs making a living is a false choice!


Katherine Brann Fredricks has had 6 shows in NYC festivals in the last 8 years, winning or nominated for 28 Awards. 

Stephen Wagener Bennett is a writer, composer, director, and dramaturg based in Brooklyn. He has written for new and experimental theatre for the last decade, and holds an MFA from NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.