I am excited to be more involved with 350PDX by bringing you this new newsletter! I recently graduated from Reed College, where I was a core organizer of Fossil Free Reed– the school’s fossil fuel divestment campaign. It was the first campaign I participated in essentially from the very beginning. Over the course of one year we defined our strategy, faced off with multiple administrators and the President of the College, brought our demands to the Board of Trustees twice, pulled a prank with the Yes Men at commencement, and pushed the Board to publish a public statement on their position by this past July (sadly, they decided not to divest). While I’m no longer a student, the group continues to be active, and has already doubled the group’s attendance and contended the Trustees’ decision with the Executive Committee of the Board again this fall.
Skip back a number of years to me growing up in semi-rural Vermont (though, let’s be honest, there is very little of the state that isn’t semi-rural) where I naively believed all politicians were as genuine and green as Senator Bernie Sanders (and Kermit the frog). I thus concerned myself with my personal environmental impact, leaving the bulk of the political organizing to the professional.
I’ve since come to realize reducing my personal waste and energy profile won’t suffice. Environmental issues intersect with social injustices in ways that won’t be solved even if I recycle every scrap of packaging that passes through my hands. While majoring in Environmental Studies-Economics, I faced reams of bad news in the scientific and economic literature on the topics of climate change, economic injustice, and over-consumption of, well, everything. I had always assumed that my generation would experience strong effects of climate change in our lifetime, but we’re already seeing these effects now. Which brings me to why I want to be involved in this newsletter.
We all recognize that it is heavy work to engage with climate change and environmental
injustice. In isolation I stand no better chance than the next human, but by organizing our voices grow louder. I hope that somewhere in these newsletters you’ll feel moved to share your story– whether it be in celebration or in revealing a difficult moment– to encourage and inspire us to continue engaging.
For economic justice and the health of people and the environment,
I’m excited to help kick-off and co-edit the new 350PDX monthly newsletter. I graduated
Reed last year with a degree in biology and a biologist’s appreciation for the consequences of climate change. It’s become clear to me that no matter how compelling the evidence for the harm a changing climate will have on our ecosystem, people won’t get off the couch unless they see a movement they can identify with and which they can see doing real things that they believe in. I recently made the decision to “get off the couch” myself and join 350PDX as a volunteer to help grow the movement and work together toward making a difference. My aim as co-editor is to inspire more climate-concerned readers to engage in the critical climate work that lies ahead.
– Ryan Streur