There was more than love in the air in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day. On Friday, Feb 13th, 300+ Portland residents gathered at City Hall for the event hosted by 350PDX that featured singing (The Raging Grannies), and sign waving (lots of giant Valentines), and chanting (Portland State University students), and picture-taking and calls for action. This peaceful protest was part of the larger Global Divestment Day campaign of 450 events in over 60 countries.
Locals participated in a photo petition, potentially the first of its kind here in Portland (Do you know of others? We’d like to hear!). The idea was for each participant to have his or her photo taken with a “love letter” asking Mayor Charlie Hales to fulfill his earlier promise to divest or “break up with fossil fuels”. The photos were sent to the mayor via email, Instagram and Twitter. Some have been assembled into one large image (see above) that we have big plans for…
Thanks to all of you who showed up and helped make this such a successful event. The national organizers of 350.org say we had the largest non-campus gathering in the country. Be proud of yourselves!!
Let’s keep the momentum of this action going! Post your own photos from the event on social media, or go find your photo in our flickr account (if you don’t find your photo please check back, this is a work in progress). Post to Facebook, Twitter: Mayor Hales @MayorPDX or Instagram @mayorpdx, and direct the images right to the Mayor using #Divest. Or attach to an email to email@example.com. With your help we can make an even greater impact. A change this big takes all of us! Then, invite your friends to join you in signing the Oregon Climate Declaration, which calls on our state to divest. Still want more? Check out the video of the event filmed by Joe Anybody.
Want to get involved with 350PDX’s Divestment Team? We want excited and committed new members, and are also looking for Oregon PERS members, people with experience in publicity, and folks with connections to foundations and colleges, especially Alumni groups. Contact Sandys at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
Lewis & Clark Law School
Lewis & Clark Law School hosts one of the premier environmental law programs in the country, but still invests a small amount of the endowment in fossil fuel holdings. Law students Sagar Patel and Ed Jewell from Student Advocates for Business and Environmental Responsibility, and Kelley Meck of the Student Bar Association to the Board of Trustees hosted a panel to gain momentum among students for the burgeoning divestment campaign.
Representatives from Oregon Environmental Council (recently divested its $750k fund), 350PDX and Trillium Investments (a socially responsible investment firm) joined law professor Nick Fromherz.
Portland State University
Divest Portland State, ASPSU, and the Student Sustainability Leadership Council, student groups at Portland State University, hosted an info session in mid-February to discuss the idea of fossil fuel divestment and give a brief update about the campaign at PSU.
The event featured a panel of speakers from a range of backgrounds. Environmental science professor Linda George and economics professor Randy Bluffstone sat on the panel, along with Divest Portland State student representative Linda Hoppes, certified financial planner Bryan Brumley, a student organizer of Reed College’s divestment campaign, and our very own Zach Allen, an organizer from 350PDX’s Divestment Team.
Bryan Brumley, who focuses on socially responsible investing, spoke about the financial viability of transferring investments away from companies in the fossil fuel industry—along with other industries that socially responsible investors often seek to exclude from their portfolios, like tobacco, alcohol, firearms, and pharmaceuticals.
Divest PSU also marched and cheered all the way from campus to the downtown event on Global Divestment Day!
(Story written by Divest Portland State. Read the whole report-back of the event here!)
Like the downtown organizers, Divest Reed photographed individuals with personal messages: “I’m breaking up with fossil fuels because clean coal doesn’t exist”, “I support divestment because I love my community in West Virginia that mountaintop removal is destroying” and “Yo apoyo la desinversión por nuestros hijos (I support divestment for our children).” A surprising number of personal stories emerged on the topic of divestment despite the removed and technical nature of financial topics.
Students also collected commitments from students on campus to pledge to escalate the campaign later in the semester, and to called on Reed Trustees to divest the endowment and make investments more transparent. The campaign is looking for Reed alumni in Portland who want to increase the visibility of alumni support. Contact Maya at email@example.com if this is you!
International status of the divestment movement
A massive win!! The New School, in New York City, adopts the most awesomest plan ever to divest from fossil fuels, reinvest in renewables, create a committee of students, staff, faculty and trustees to advise investments moving forward, and increase transparency in investing! The New School’s endowment is about $220 million.
On the other hand, there is still strong resistance to divestment in many schools: Harvard trying to dismiss student case for divestment. “World’s richest university appeared in court to seek dismissal of lawsuit brought by students calling for it to pull investments out of coal, oil and gas companies.”
Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund — the richest in the world– also committed to divesting from fossil fuel companies, “potentially totaling billions of dollars in assets.” This is a massive win and should help provide even more momentum to sticklers such as Harvard and Reed College.
This story, except for the section on PSU, was written by Jen DeVere Warner and Maya Jarrad of 350PDX, 2015.