Cowspiracy Film Review

Hi, my name is Miko Vergun and I am the editorial intern at 350PDX. A few facts about me: I teach myself how to play piano, ukulele, guitar, and dance. I am also 15 years old. This year, I get to do many other things at 350PDX but my main job is watching movies and writing film reviews. This is part of my job because I am trying to find out what are the right movies to engage more people especially youth, in this movement. Since it is my job to write film reviews, I will always find good points to write about. However, it is also my job to be honest, so I will also have something to criticize. Just to reassure you guys, I will do my best to not come off as attacking the director(s) or the movie.

Anyways, the first movie that I am doing a film review oncowspiracy is called Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, directed by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn. For those who don’t know, Cowspiracy is a documentary focusing on exposing the harm of livestock agriculture. To be honest, I didn’t really like it. Personally, I would give it a 4 out of 10. I don’t really want to recommend it to anyone because of the way the director’s opinions were displayed, but I’ll go into that later. Read more

Showing Up (for Housing and Racial Justice)

This piece is adapted to add local context from an email blast sent by May Boeve of on July 19, 2016.


It’s hard to know what to do in times like these, with violence, xenophobia, and hate on the rise. As an organization dedicated specifically to working on climate change, we’ve wrestled with how to engage with what feels like a historic moral and political moment.

The climate crisis affects all of us, but it doesn’t affect all of us equally. Climate change dramatically magnifies inequalities like race, consistently hitting Black, brown, Indigenous, and poor communities first and hardest. Climate justice is inextricably tied to the fights against racism, economic inequality, and hate. Read more

Guest Editorial: Climate Denial and the Oregonian

On May 26th the Oregonian published an editorial criticizing the Portland Public Schools for passing a resolution on climate change and the school curriculum. The editorial uses the term critical thinking three times and claims that the PPS are failing to teach it.

Part of critical thinking is learning to recognize sincere and legitimate discussion and understand the difference between that and efforts at fear-mongering, self-aggrandizement and manipulation. This editorial is so clearly the latter that the only thing the editorial actually says is something about the political posture of the Oregonian editorial staff.

The editorial states “After the applause died, the board, Esparza Brown included, turned right around and indicated that some viewpoints — those that challenge the thinking of climate-change activists — may not be tolerable after all.”

We are talking about science here, not viewpoints, beliefs, personal opinions or the thinking of activists (who don’t all agree with each other anyway). What the PPS did is to decide to update their curriculum to reflect the current state of climate science.

Already in 2010, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) declared anthropogenic (human caused) climate change to be a settled fact.

For the Portland Public Schools to be following the lead of a prestigious and conservative organization like the NAS is not the slightest bit controversial. And the NOAA, NASA, MIT, British MET and every other major institution worldwide that studies the climate has the same conclusion and has for some years now. The science is settled. Read more

A First Time Arrestee’s Report from Break Free

6320d49a-0e20-4270-8bfa-3e9668f32b8dA first time arrestee’s report from the oil train blockade at March Point, Anacortes, Washington., May 13-15, 2016.

“This ain’t no party. This ain’t no disco. This ain’t no fooling around.”

Day 1

I awaken to the crunch of footsteps on loose gravel, the roar of passing vehicles on Highway 20 and the snapping of our flags. They rise above the 12ft tall painter’s scaffolding that we erected over the railroad tracks.

What am I doing here? Read more

Family Ties: Personal Reflections from Break Free PNW

Break Free PNWA mother-daughter duo, Maya Rommwatt and Carole Romm, give their accounts of Break Free PNW and what it meant to them.

“I joined Break Free PNW as a local organizer here in Portland initially to help plan transportation to and from the area. A week later circumstances outside of my control allowed me to step into the role of lead logistics organizer for Break Free PNW. I had the immeasurable task of planning the transportation, housing, food, and well-being of hundreds of people. Behind-the-scenes organizing work isn’t very glamorous, but I managed to meet and work with several hundred volunteers who helped make Break Free PNW run smoothly. Volunteers took time out of sexier activism to cook for others, help transport folks across Fidalgo Island, staff the info table and medic tent, and set up and break down infrastructure. We couldn’t have pulled this off without their help.

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Earth Day – A Personal Insight

0501161038a-2This Earth Day, more than any other, was quite bitter/sweet for me. I have a fairly long history with Earth Day. I knew Denis Hayes, the first ED of Earth Day, when we were both students at Stanford in the mid-1960s. I was a supporter of Senator Gaylord Nelson when I was in graduate school in Politics at University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1966-67. And I was a supporter of Congressman Pete McCloskey throughout his legislative career,

I was respectful of Earth Day from the very beginning of its celebration, but I, I am chagrined to admit, actively participated in a celebration for the first time only in 2010. In 2010, I was Executive Director of Sustainable Business Alliance (SBA) in Oakland/Berkeley. That non-profit organization was and is focused on building a strong community of locally-owned and locally-operated businesses in the San Francisco East Bay. SBA had a table at that 2010 Earth Day celebration outside Berkeley City Hall, and I staffed that table throughout the day. Thousands of people streamed through the Earth Day celebration over the course of the day, and it was a great way to gather new recruits for SBA.

At the end of Earth Day, April 24, 2010, I got a call from my step-daughter who had just delivered identical twin grand-daughters. So my association with Earth Day very much includes that whole web of family, and particularly those grand-daughters. I have been fortunate to spend many hundreds of hours with them since 2010.

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The Roots and Shoots of Just Transition

JustTransition-610x390From 1974-1991 I worked on assembly lines at General Electric Appliance Park in Louisville, Kentucky. I hired in right at the end of the post WWII economic boom. In 1974 there were over 24,000 people working at Appliance Park. By 1991 that number had shrunk to about 6,000. Like many at the low end of the seniority list, I had a wild ride in and out of GE due to business cycle boom and bust, robots, outsourcing, and production shifts from one GE factory to another.

The last time I was called back from a layoff, I worked on a refrigerator compressor line, testing for leaks before they filled the system with Freon. This was in the late 1980s while the Montreal Protocol to Protect the Ozone Layer was being negotiated. Of course, Freon, an efficient and safe-to-handle refrigerant, was also the most prominent ozone-depleting chemical. It was disorienting to know this and to experience the nearly total silence on the issue at work. Once it was clear that Freon had to be replaced, GE claimed it had to redesign certain components and retool some of the manufacturing process. The company challenged the union to meet or beat what it would cost to make those parts somewhere else. The union kept the work but with a plan that used fewer workers. By that time, I had moved on to the washer/dryer building, been laid off yet again, moved back to Massachusetts where I grew up, and gone back to school. Read more

A Misleading Beauty: Why Portland’s Air and Water Aren’t As Clean As We Thought

Willamette River (image from Ecopol Project

Willamette River (image from Ecopol Project)

I stand on the shores of the Willamette River, on sandy rocks that were underwater during the winter rains. The Scouler’s willows are full again. The salmonberries have deep pink flowers. The air smells like cottonwood pollen, a scent so inextricably tied to the river that I can’t smell one without thinking of the other.

I’ve known the river nearly all my life. When I was a child we played on its banks, sitting in the sun, climbing on the rock cliffs. One winter a thin sheet of ice formed on it, and we marveled at its fragility, how, in the pale light before sunset, spider web cracks already glistened along its edges. We dared only to tap the ice with our fingertips and ran, laughing, into the snow.   Read more

Impressions of the Portland Mayoral Environmental Debate, March 3

The views expressed in this article reflect the individual impression of the author. 350PDX is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and does not endorse political candidates.

The mayoral debate on the evening of March 3rd, held in the Benson Polytechnic High School auditorium, began with some drama.

Host Steve Law, editor of the Portland Tribune’s Sustainable Life section, welcomed the audience, introduced the three candidates and three questioners on stage, and described the debate format to come. Suddenly, a woman wearing some sort of flamboyant purple fur around her neck strode up onstage, to the host’s podium, and began gesticulating and speaking loudly.

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“Active Hope” Workshop Reflections




I am looking into the face of a woman who is going to protect the lives of my children, and I know she is going to do this, even though I don’t know her name and we’ve never spoken. I am watching as people around me assume our positions as ancestors-of-the-future, seeing our uncertainty that we are doing the right thing, our desire to be forgiven for our failure to do more come spilling out of our eyes and hands even before we speak. And as I listen to the glimpses of people’s lives that they reveal, I see better from outside of my own experience: see how life in our society sometimes takes away not just the ability but even the impulse to hope for a different world. By: Anais Tuepker

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