Reflection on KYC Panel about Oregon’s Climate Movement

Guest blog post written by Page Atcheson

On January 25, Know Your City partnered with
Renew Oregon to host “Building Oregon’s Climate Movement,” a community discussion on how efforts to reduce climate pollution can be strengthened and conducted with the input and leadership of diverse constituencies. Moderated by Maggie Tallmadge of the Coalition of Communities of Color, panelists included State Representative Lew Frederick; Mark Gamba, Mayor of Milwaukie; Barbara Byrd, Secretary-Treasurer of AFL-CIO; Nik Blosser, CEO of Celilo Group Media; Laura Stevens, Field Representative with the Sierra Club; and Mia Reback of 350 PDX. Needless to say, it was quite a powerful panel!

The discussion kicked off with the question of whether Oregon currently has a diverse and inclusive climate movement. All were in agreement that we have a lot of work to do for our movement to genuinely reflect the economic and racial diversity of our state — and it’s work that cannot be completed overnight. In fact, it might require rethinking how we engage people on these issues.

Rep. Frederick pointed out, if you live in a neighborhood with high asthma rates, and somebody knocks on your door to talk about polar bears, how are you going to respond? Climate advocates must move away from presenting the problem as something that’s in the future and affecting distant places. Our job is “to bring people in by understanding what their issues are,” said Rep. Frederick. This means listening to those who are concerned about losing their jobs because of climate policy, to farmers and ranchers who are feeling the impacts first-hand and to social justice movements who are advocating for other, often related and equally important, issues.

Reaching new people and constituencies is only the first step. We need to ensure these relationships develop in ways that are not transactional, but which instead enable us to collaborate effectively while supporting one another’s work. “We need to show up to Black Lives Matter without expecting something in return,” said Laura Stevens of the Sierra Club. And as Mia Rebeck of 350PDX pointed out, it’s a challenge to build these relationships, given limited time and capacity. “There’s a tension between sense of urgency to act on climate, and the slow work of building relationships, especially across movements.”

Despite the difficulties, we are starting to see these collaborations happening more in Oregon, thanks to the work of the Coalition of Communities of Color, Blue Green Alliance, and Renew Oregon among others. “We have to keep moving forward on things we do agree on,” said Barbara Byrd, after referring to various issues like coal export and timber that have at times divided environmentalists and labor. There was agreement among the panelists that we seem to be entering an exciting new phase of the climate movement in Oregon, with growing coalition work, and also the acknowledgement that climate change could present an opportunity to address other inequities, and help us achieve racial and economic justice.

Two concrete examples of how this coalition-building has resulted in tangible policy proposals can be seen this legislative session. First, the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition bill (HB 4036), which would transition the state off coal and double renewable energy. Second, the Healthy Climate Bill (SB 1574), which would enforce limits on carbon pollution and generate revenue for disadvantaged communities and a Just Transition Fund. Both of these proposals have had input from environmental groups, health advocates, communities of color, ratepayer advocates, labor, and businesses. They are a step forward in realizing our collective potential to craft policies that not only protect historically disadvantaged communities, but also provide benefit.. We still have a long way to go, but we are well positioned to approach climate change as an opportunity, and a challenge to all of us to work across movements to protect our state and its people.

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Know Your City Job Opening and Other Updates

Other updates from the Know Your City team:

The Our Stories Matter campaign launched successfully! We had powerful testimony in front of City Council last Wednesday, including MRG Foundation’s Katharine Quaid, 2014 Oregon Teacher of the Year Brett Bigham, and PPS School Board Member Mike Rosen. Read the coverage of our campaign for inclusive cultural studies in the Portland Tribune and the Portland Observer. Sustain our momentum by signing the petition and sharing it with your friends.

Make a donation and strengthen our push to teach the real history of Oregon.



The Jade Journal, Volume 2 is starting at Harrison Park on February 26th! And we need your help—our 6th graders are in need of more digital point and shoot or SLR cameras, 6 megapixels or better, to use during their photography workshops. Email ask@knowyourcity if you have a digital camera that we can borrow!

We’re grateful for the positive response with the Hidden History of Albina Tour – make sure to register for tickets on the 13th and 27th here! If these dates don’t work for you, contact us about scheduling a private tour!

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The Last Week of January is Jam Packed!

We’ve got a lot planned for the last week of January! Here are some exciting opportunities to stay plugged in.

1. Tonight we’re partnering with Renew Oregon to host the “Building Oregon’s Climate Movement” panel. Speakers who organize in very different communities, from labor to business to grassroots, will be discussing the work ahead to secure Oregon’s clean future. Doors open at 6pm at SEIU Local 503—this is your last chance to RSVP online!

Our Stories Matter campaign image

2. We’re officially kicking off the Our Stories Matter campaign at City Hall on Wednesday! Join us and advocate for the history of marginalized people in Oregon to be included in our textbooks.

3. We’re starting the year singing with this Saturday’s Sing a Song of Portland Tour. RSVP here!

BONUS: We just announced a new tour for February!

In commemoration of Black History Month, Know Your City is partnering with NECN to offer “the Hidden History of Albina” for folks who are unfamiliar with its importance as the historic heart of Portland’s African American community. We are offering the walking tour February 13th and February 27th.

Continue to support Know Your City! 2016 is going to be the best year yet.

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A Campaign to Change History, Our Stories Matter

It’s time for the histories and cultures of all Oregonians to be recognized within our systems of public education. Today, we are launching a critical response campaign called Our Stories Matter, with a mission to ensure that the history of underrepresented
people included as an equal part of our curriculum standards for Oregon Studies.1234

Our Stories Matter is a growing movement that calls on the City of Portland, Multnomah County, and Portland Public Schools to work with Know Your City and other culturally specific organizations to provide inclusive Oregon Studies curriculum for youth and K-12 schools in the Portland region.

Join us as we kick off Our Stories Matter with a presentation to Portland City Council, 10:45am on January 27th.


Support inclusive cultural studies for all youth by donating to the campaign.

As the population of the Portland region grows, displacement and discrimination continues to erase the value of our combined histories and cultures. Even though our schools are more diverse than ever, there is an educational and cultural void for our youth of color, young girls, lgbtq youth, and other historically oppressed identities. During history and civics lessons, their personal experiences are often misrepresented or ignored, which makes school success more of a challenge. Know Your City is working to make sure that all students have a fair chance to have their story told.

One of the campaign’s biggest supporters is Portland Association of Teachers President Gwen Sullivan, who says, “As teachers, we know our students need an authentic education when it comes to their own history and culture. If we want to equip them to change the world for the better, we have to make sure all voices are heard.”

Take Action By Signing Our Petition!

Our Stories Matter has been endorsed by local and multicultural nonprofit organizations such as Basic Rights Oregon, APANO, Standing Up for Racial Justice PDX, the Bus Project, and Tivnu.

To learn more, visit:


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Know Your City, a fight we’re in togeher

Double your impact! Every donation will be MATCHED up to $2,000 for the next 3 days.

marcmosc.jpgWhen we co-founded Know Your City in 2009, we produced tours and lectures that addressed the changing nature of the city—like income inequality, gentrification, immigration and how our shared history informs the present. My favorite part of serving as Executive Director of Know Your City has been witnessing the amazing programs that came to fruition with the help of dozens of people who were filled with ideas and made this organization theirs. The Portland we see today—just six years later—is significantly changed, making the work of Know Your City vital, now more than ever before.

I’m excited to see Know Your City’s legacy live on. There is a long road ahead, but with proper leadership and enough community support, Know Your City will have a bright future. I look forward to seeing the organization grow, and continuing to be involved in an ongoing advisory capacity to ensure continued success.

I strongly encourage you to donate now and have your contribution matched!

ben gerritzAs past Board Chair and a native Portlander, I know our work is vital for uplifting local, underrepresented voices. Voices like Ana and Chase, Harrison Park 5th graders who published the Jade Journal. Voices like Dakota, a Columbia River Correctional Institute inmate who said our prison art installation, “reminds me of freedom.”

I joined Know Your City’s board because of its powerful mission and the vision of our co-founder, Marc. I’m grateful for his contributions. Know Your City continues to be a vital community resource and we’re creating new tours, lectures, publications, and youth programs to serve the city.

We’ve taken collective action to ensure Know Your City’s financial sustainability, as our challenges are as much a shared responsibility as is the celebration of our successes.

We have a generous offer to match each contribution for our “It’s a Wonderful Life” campaign. Join Marc and I in doubling our financial impact.

Donate today and help us share the incredible stories of Portland’s past, present, and future.

With Gratitude,

Marc Moscato, past Executive Director
Benjamin Gerritz, past Board Chair

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During hard times, you helped us. Now, all donations matched!

When I started as Know Your City’s executive director, the board of directors and I had a collective determination to build Know Your City towards a stronger future.

And when we went to the community to share the truth about our financial situation, you responded.

More than 140 donors, together, contributed $5,283 to the “It’s a Wonderful Life” campaign to support our vital community programs. We’ll be showing our gratitude to the folks who invested in our future at ourpublic meeting, January 14th at 6pm.

Now, I am doubling down on my commitment to Know Your City. I am personally matching all donations to our crowdfunding campaign from now until 11:59pm on Friday, up to $2,000. Share the crowdfunding campaign with your friends, family, and coworkers!

Want to help Brian Swan’s 6th grade class publish the second edition of the Jade Journal?

Want to discover new tours, lectures, and publications about the history and people of our City?

Donate now, and your contribution will be matched, dollar for dollar!!

And join us for these upcoming events!
Our MLK Day Food Justice and Civil Rights Movement panel will sell out! RSVP.
January 25th – “Building Oregon’s Climate Movement” community dialogue. RSVP.
January 30th – “Start the Year SINGING!!” Sing a Song of Portland Tour. RSVP.
February 1st – “Portland Policy” Tour. RSVP.

With your help, 2016 will be the best year yet. Donate today.

With gratitude,
Cameron Whitten

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