Portland, Oregon - This year’s climate conference, COP 27, focused a lot on loss and damage compensation. The question of who should foot the bill for our current climate crisis has highlighted a growing conversation around planetary boundaries and collective responsibility. The disparate impacts of historical emissions on Global South communities show us that pushing waste, emissions, and externalities out of sight isn’t only unjust, it’s unsustainable. And while these problems continue to unfold on a global scale, each country, city, and locality’s role in perpetuating them — or helping to craft solutions — has been brought to center stage. Portland’s Emerging Circular Economy Sustainable waste reduction requires a transition from a linear economy — one where goods get used for a short period and then wind up in a landfill — to a circular one that prioritizes sharing, repairing, reuse, and creative upcycling.
Portland, Oregon - A new study by a pair of researchers tried to find the root cause of homelessness in cities across the U.S. It revealed how Portland's housing market plays a much bigger part in the crisis than many might think. The urban study called “Homelessness is a Housing Problem” found that the biggest factors in the homeless crisis are not necessarily addiction or mental health but rather a combination of high rent prices and a lack of affordable housing. “Any given night in Multnomah County, five per 1,000 people are experiencing homelessness, which is quite a high number,” said Clayton Aldern, one of the researchers behind the study. The data dates back to 2019 and looks at the 30 largest urban areas in the country.
Green groups in Oregon celebrated on Wednesday after NW Natural withdrew its application for approval to build a green hydrogen pilot program in Eugene, citing local uproar. "This should be a lesson, not just for NW Natural but for all toxic polluters—the West Eugene community is not a sacrifice zone," said Lisa Arkin, executive director of Beyond Toxics, in a statement. "Eugene residents will not be forced to be guinea pigs for experimental and dangerous technology that perpetrates fossil fuel infrastructure, environmental injustices, and more air toxics," Arkin added. "This project was absolutely unacceptable, and its withdrawal is a testament to the power of community opposition."
In March, both the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), collectively representing more than 300,000 workers in the state, passed a resolution calling for the state of Oregon to divest from the fund that owns Israeli spyware firm NSO. The resolution also calls on the state to implement a human rights screening for all future investments. And just weeks ago, the Oregon Education Association, representing more than 40,000 teachers, passed a similar resolution at its convention. The passing of these resolutions comes after multiple investigations revealed a shocking record of human rights abuses committed by governments around the world using NSO’s controversial Pegasus spyware.
Starbucks workers at a location in Eugene, Oregon went on strike on Tuesday to protest the union busting at their location and the unlawful firing of three organizers. The workers at this Starbucks store voted 17-0 in favor of unionizing. They are part of the massive Starbucks unionization wave, with 70 other stores nationwide winning union elections and over 250 stores filing to unionize. Starbucks, however, is doing everything it can to stop this wave. As Starbucks Workers United described in a statement: “Starbucks has continued to cut workers’ hours, coerce them into voting against union representation by mischaracterizing the law and preemptively refusing to engage in good faith bargaining… Starbucks has failed to recognize their union despite having no good-faith reason not to.”
Portland, Oregon - It’s been five years since the city of Portland organized its first week of events aimed at increasing awareness of the high rates at which Indigenous people are murdered or go missing in Oregon and nationwide. Despite some changes to address the problem at the local, state and federal levels since then, the problem persists, said Laura John, the city’s tribal relations director. Now the city is hosting its fifth year of events to continue raising awareness while shifting the conversation toward intervention and prevention. The events, which run May 2-6, fall in line with a nationwide missing and murdered Indigenous people (MMIP) week of awareness. Indigenous people — particularly women and girls — go missing, are murdered or are victims of violence at disproportionately high rates.
As COVID-19 continues to rage, another health crisis persists — one that is decades long. In the first year of the pandemic, the United States hit the devastating milestone of 100,000 overdose deaths, a nearly 28.5 percent surge from the record numbers we saw the previous year. Now, fentanyl is the leading cause of death in Americans ages 18-45. The reaction from many of our leaders has been to call for more arrests and criminalization, but this response is rooted in fear, not science. We have spent the last 50 years trying to treat a public health issue with a criminalization response, yet people are dying of overdose at record rates. This response is clearly not working. The evidence is clear: Criminalization worsens public health outcomes.
On August 17, 2019, a coalition of antifascist and progressive groups in Portland, Oregon organized a rally to protest a Proud Boy event planned in the city. The rally had a carnivalesque atmosphere created by PopMob — an antifascist group of concerned Portlanders which seeks to “resist the alt-right with whimsy and creativity” — and brought on a diverse range of organizations, from labor and religious groups and civil rights groups like the NAACP to more militant organizations like Rose City Antifa. During the protest, the latter, along with autonomous black bloc organizers, acted as a buffer between the crowds at the carnival and the hundreds of Proud Boys amassing at the other side of the waterfront park both groups were occupying.
A weeklong strike is underway affecting a number of Oregon grocery stores, barely a week before Christmas Day. The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555, representing many employees at Fred Meyer and QFC stores, confirmed early Friday morning that it is moving ahead with a walkout at stores in Portland, Bend, Newberg and Klamath Falls. The details and specifics of a walkout are complicated. While the UFCW represents roughly 10,000 Fred Meyer employees, not all stores, departments or worker categories are participating in the strike. The union has been in labor negotiations for months with the Kroger-owned supermarket chains. Last weekend, UFCW announced its members had authorized a strike.
In a groundbreaking move, in 2020, Oregon voters approved the decriminalization of personal use amounts of all illicit drugs, with Measure 110 passing with a healthy 59 percent of the vote. That made Oregon the first state in the U.S. to make this dramatic break after decades of the war on drugs. Now, as other states are pondering a similar move and are looking for evidence to bolster their case for drug decriminalization, some of the initial results in Oregon are looking pretty impressive and promising.
The bitter and protracted battle over the Jordan Cove Energy Project has finally come to a close. The Calgary-based Pembina company formally asked federal energy regulators Wednesday to withdraw authorizations for the proposed pipeline and liquified natural gas export terminal in southwest Oregon. Pembina’s plan called for a 229-mile-long natural gas pipeline that would have run from Malin, Oregon, on the California border, over the Coast Range to Coos Bay. The gas would then have been super-cooled into a liquified form (LNG), loaded onto ships and exported to Asia. The proposal raised concerns about environmental impacts to waterways and wildlife habitat. It was also expected to become the largest single emitter of greenhouse gasses in Oregon.
Portland, OR — The Burgerville Workers Union – Industrial Workers of the World (BVWU) has reached a tentative agreement with Burgerville on a historic contract to be ratified by a vote of workers in represented shops. Upon ratification, workers at Burgerville will become the only fast food workforce in the U.S. covered by a Collective Agreement. A milestone in one of the longest standing labor disputes in the Portland, OR area, this Agreement will set out a range of improvements in wages and working conditions for approximately 100 workers across five Burgerville locations. Burgerville and the BVWU have been in contract negotiations since June of 2018. “A union and a contract give workers more power at work” said Mark Medina, a member of the BVWU bargaining team.
A city isn’t the most likely place for an Indigenous crop revival. But across the greater Portland area in Oregon, municipalities like Metro and the City of Portland have been partnering with organizations and tribes to promote Native American land access and cultivation of first foods, the term used for traditional local foods that have nourished Indigenous people for centuries. In a city park, a drained lakebed, an old grazing lot, and along an urban creek, first foods are returning to areas where they once flourished before the land was covered by farms and urban sprawl. The partnerships are historically significant, considering Portland didn’t even allow Native Americans to live within city limits until 1920.
More than two dozen members of the police and military in Oregon have at one point been members of the Oath Keepers, a far-right anti-government militia group, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported Friday. According to the leaked data obtained by Distributed Denial of Secrets, a non-profit whistleblower organization that shares leaked information with journalists and researchers, Oregon police signed up to join the group as early as 2009. The data includes members’ names, the date they joined Oath Keepers and contact information for anyone who paid dues to the group, which is comprised of nearly 40,000 individuals across the country. But, according to OPB, it is difficult to discern from the available data whether people on the list were current members of Oath Keepers, unless they had paid the group’s $1,000 lifetime membership fee.
As a record-breaking heat wave gripped Oregon in late June, a diner at a Red Robin burger joint sent an urgent message to the state’s OSHA office: Every worker in the restaurant appeared to be in danger. “Hot air is pumping out of the vents like the heater is on,” the customer wrote the day after their visit. “I asked my server to move me but she explained that the AC units are not working properly and the owners will not fix them.” The customer said it was 100 degrees inside the dining area and apparently even hotter in the kitchen. “My server told me they were still forced to go to work and the only [extra] compensation they got was Gatorades,” the customer wrote to state Occupational Safety and Health regulators. “This is extremely hazardous.”