Very productive day in John Day, Oregon.
Brian Ettling started the day driving from La Grande to John Day. The weather was beautiful, with not a cloud in the sky and the leaves on the trees showing brilliant autumn colors. Just before reaching John Day, Brian was greeted by the 9,038-foot snow-capped Strawberry Mountain, welcoming him to the area.
After arriving in John Day, Brian met up with Eric Means, another volunteer with Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL). Eric is from Portland and he took advantage of the perfect fall weather to ride his motorcycle from his home to John Day. Brian and Eric then met up with Logan Bajett at KJDY radio to do a 10-minute radio interview about CCL and the Oregon Stewardship Tour. It was a taped interview that will play Monday morning on Logan’s Coffee Talk radio show.
Brian and Eric then went to meet with Nick Green, the City Manager of John Day, to learn his perspective on climate policy. Brian asked Nick if he took climate change into consideration for his city planning. He answered with an enthusiastic: ‘Yes!’ John Day gets all of its water from the Strawberry Mountain wilderness. The snowpack has diminished over the years and he is concerned about providing enough water for his community of 1,700 residents. Nick has focused his efforts as the city leader to push for a new water treatment plant that would capture and recycle up to 400,000 gallons of wastewater a day. It would use uses hydroponically grown plants to treat the wastewater for re-use.
The plants would grow food to help John Day reduce its food costs and be more self-reliant in terms of locally grown food. Because of John Day’s remoteness in eastern Oregon, Nick told us that the town’s residents pay “Alaska prices for produce” and “everything we use is imported.” The town’s location means residents use a lot of carbon fuel, such as gasoline, to go to far-away large cities in Oregon, such as Bend, to complete their errands. Nick worries that climate change is a serious global threat. However, he has concerns about how implementing carbon pricing, such as CCL’s carbon fee and dividend, would face much resistance from many John Day residents concerned about getting hit with high fuel costs. Hopefully, CCL, Renew Oregon and other conservation groups can engage closely with John Day to help them reduce their fuel costs while reducing carbon pollution.
In the evening, Brian and Eric spoke to 22 residents at the John Day Fire Hall conference room about their climate concerns and CCL’s solution. Included were 18 high school students from nearby Grant Union High School. Their teacher gave the students extra credit for them to attend this event. Most of these students indicated they had not heard of climate change until this event.
After the event, one John Day resident wanted to continue the conversation on climate at his house with Eric, Brian, and 2 other residents that went well into the night. One local citizen, Jim, was worried the Oregon Stewardship Tour was ‘only a one-time visit where we would leave in the morning.’ Brian assured him that we want this to be an ongoing conversation and discussion about climate policy and CCL. Jim seemed pleased with this response.
On Friday, Brian heads to Burns to do an event there that evening. Eric Means plans to return to his home to Portland on his motorcycle. Brian really enjoyed having Eric along that day in John Day.