The Oregon Stewardship Tour held two public events during the day in Central Oregon over the weekend.
Day 6: Redmond
It was an exciting start to the day of the tour’s Sunday stop in Redmond. The Klamath Falls newspaper, The Herald and News, published an article about the tour.
Brian Ettling, Russ Donnelly, Suzanne Butterfield, and other members of the Bend chapter traveled to Redmond, 24 miles north of Bend, for the next tour event. We met at Round Table Pizza in Redmond.
We were very excited that 15 people showed up for our event on a beautiful and sunny Sunday afternoon in October, even with football season and other weekend events happening.
Some members of the audience immediately let us know that they did not accept the science of climate change.
Russ started the discussion of what the group thought of climate change and its local impacts. Some of the changing climate conditions our group observed included:
- Glaciers disappearing at Glacier National Park
- Temperatures seemed to have increased from when they grew up in Redmond.
- Air pollution has become bad in cities.
Some audience members pointed out their beliefs on why they reject climate change or CCL’s proposed policy, carbon fee & dividend. They brought up China’s contribution to pollution, questioned the accuracy of weather stations, expressed doubts that coal pollution in the U.S. is bad, and skepticism that the dividend would truly be returned to the American taxpayers. Some questioned the reliability of solar, wind, and other clean energy sources. One attendee questioned the accuracy of a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office report, which – as reported by the Los Angeles Times – states:
“The extreme weather events of the last decade that scientists say were exacerbated by climate change added more than $350 billion in costs to taxpayers… A huge drain on the budget as money was diverted to cover more disaster relief, crop and flood insurance, firefighting costs and infrastructure and public lands repairs. Those demands threaten to increase by $12 billion to $35 billion each year by the middle of the century.”
Other attendees expressed they were very concerned about climate change. One man remarked, “There is not a commitment in the U.S. to climate change as there was in putting a man on the moon within 10 years.”
The climate change skeptics in our audience may not have been persuaded by our talk or the answers the Citizens’ Climate Lobby volunteers gave to their questions. But, we followed the CCL way by treating them with respect, admiration, and gratitude. Towards the end of Brian’s presentation, Russ and Brian sincerely thanked everyone for coming to the event, even if we don’t all agree.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: “if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.”
After the event was over, we had several attendees tell us how much they enjoyed it. One person who said the event was a ‘success’ was a former mayor of Redmond and former Deschutes County Commissioner. He informed Russ and Suzanne that he wanted to meet with them and stay in touch with Citizens’ Climate Lobby. That alone made us feel very proud of the event.
On Monday, October 30th, Brian Ettling and other members of the Bend CCL group have scheduled a meeting with Nick Strader, Central Oregon Director for Rep. Greg Walden. We will be reporting on what we have learned from talking to constituents during the tour.
Day 5: Prineville
It was a beautiful day in Prineville, Oregon, on Saturday.
Brian met up with local Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) volunteers Russ Donnelly and Suzanne Butterfield of the nearby Bend CCL group. Russ, Suzanne, and Brian met at the Crook County Fire Department, to set up for the Oregon Stewardship Tour’s next public event.
As we met up that morning, we were excited to see the Bend Bulletin published a story about our tour on the front page. We were happy the story they published was a fair take on all sides and presented the content in a balanced manner. Even more, nothing felt like it was untrue and the reporter let the tour speak for itself. The headline is catchy: “Climate tour goes to unlikely locations“.
As we completed setting up for the event, we waited patiently for local residents to arrive. Unfortunately, nobody from the community showed up.
Russ then invited two firemen who worked at that fire station to come hear our talk. Russ started the event with the icebreaker question:: “How has climate change impacted you?”
The firemen responded they noticed medical calls increased with people complaining they had difficulty breathing when Prineville had high levels of smoke from forest fires, such as those that happened last summer. This was especially true if they had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease such as chronic bronchitis, or emphysema.
The firemen stayed long enough to hear the first part of Brian’s talk on the negative impacts of climate change. They were called back to work by their supervisor so they were unable to hear the solution part of Brian’s talk.
Russ decided to use the rest of the time we were together to prepare for our lobby meeting with the staff of Rep. Greg Walden in Bend on Monday afternoon. Brian’s role will be putting together a one-page report to briefly let the staffs of Senator Jeff Merkley, Rep. Walden, and Senator Ron Wyden know how their constituents feel about climate change. The report will share how people in eastern and central Oregon have seen the impacts of climate change and how they feel it hurts the local economy and quality of life there.
All of us still feel hopeful to plan another event in Prineville in the future. We felt like nobody came because of other factors, such as folks wanting to enjoy the beautiful sunny warm weather, hunting season in Oregon, college football games, just wanting to enjoy their weekends, etc.
No attendance today made us appreciate even more the success of the first four nights of the tour events: 15 people in Baker City, 25 people in La Grande, 22 people in John Day, and 14 people from the Burns/Hines area last Friday.
American mythologist Joseph Campbell once said, ‘Follow your bliss. If you do, you will find the invisible hands of the universe helping you along.’
All of the visible hands of local residents and Citizens’ Climate Lobby volunteers throughout the state of Oregon and elsewhere have put a lot of effort into making the first half of the Oregon Stewardship Tour a joyful success. Thank you all!