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Highlights from the 2017 Oregon Stewardship Tour

Bend Oregon rep. greg walden climate change

The 2017 Oregon Stewardship Tour included two meetings with Rep. Greg Walden’s district offices, including this one in Bend, Ore.

Highlights from the 2017 Oregon Stewardship Tour

By Brian Ettling

Citizens’ Climate Lobby volunteer Brian Ettling and fellow chapter members recently wrapped up the 2017 Oregon Stewardship Tour.

They held 11 outreach events over the course of 12 days, including 2 meetings with district offices of Rep. Greg Walden, 2 editorial board meetings, and 2 radio interviews. They also generated 4 published articles in Oregon newspapers and 4 press releases announcing local tour events. Overall, they engaged well over 180 constituents during the course of the tour.

Below are just a few of Brian’s highlights from the tour, which you can read in full on the tour’s website.

Day 1

Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) volunteers from Portland – Barry Daigle, Jason Lewis and I – met up in downtown Baker City at 3 p.m. to start planning for the evening event at the Baker County Library, We were thrilled to see the Baker City Observer announced the event on the front page of the newspaper.

We had 15 people attend. They really seemed to enjoy our presentation. They asked excellent questions to learn exactly how the dividend will be distributed to Americans and how it will impact working-class people who can least afford it. Jason, Barry, and I assured the audience that low-income and working-class people tend to be the biggest winners with carbon fee and dividend.

Nearly everyone filled out our sign-up sheets to learn more about CCL. Many were inspired to fill out constituent comment forms and special postcards to inform Rep. Greg Walden that we want him to act on climate.

Day 6

It was an exciting start to the day of the tour’s Sunday stop in Redmond. Klamath Falls newspaper, The Herald and News, published an article about the tour. I traveled with Russ Donnelly, Suzanne Butterfield, and other members of the Bend chapter to Redmond, 24 miles north of Bend, for the next tour event. We met at Round Table Pizza in Redmond.

climate change redmond oregon

Local residents and CCL volunteers discuss climate change and policy in Redmond, Ore., on Sunday, October 29.

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 asking the group its thoughts on 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.

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.

Day 7

On a beautiful and blustery day, members of the Bend CCL chapter, including Russ Donnelly, Suzanne Butterfield, Klaus Mager, Kathryn Cullen, and Emily Gibson, met with Nick Strader, District Director for U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (OR-02) in Bend.

After introductions, we had the opportunity to provide Nick with a status report on the six different cities we had traveled to thus far on the tour: Baker City, La Grande, John Day, Burns/Hines, Prineville, and Redmond.

At this point, we’d met with 100 constituents, ranging from retired senior citizens, professors, newspaper editors and reporters, former mayors, county commissioners, a city manager, college students, a Tea Party leader, conservative Republicans, liberal Democrats, progressive organizers, working professionals such as librarians, educators, firefighters, and high school and middle school students. We shared some key takeaways we’d heard from those constituents.

Bend Oregon Rep. Greg Walden climate change

CCL volunteers met with Rep. Greg Walden’s Central Oregon office director, Nick Strader, for a lobby meeting in Bend on Monday.

Nick seemed impressed with the report. He added that he and Rep. Walden do have a very positive impression of CCL. They do like to meet with us and the Congressman was looking forward to meeting CCL volunteers in Washington D.C. in mid-November.

As far as climate change, Nick remarked that people too often overlook what Rep. Walden doesn’t say about climate change. Walden  doesn’t say that it’s a hoax or that there haven’t been more frequent and more intense weather events. He does think climate change is real and he does accept the science. Even more, he was an early adopter buying one of the first models of the Toyota Prius, even if he teased about this by his GOP colleagues to this day.

Rep. Walden’s district is primarily a rural and agricultural district. Thus, he does take a big interest in sustainable agricultural for his farming constituents. CCL volunteer Klaus Mager gave a succinct report about the progress that CCL’s Agricultural Action Team has made in showing the important role in improving farming practices (including incentives) could help with reducing carbon emissions. The CCL Bend chapter will provide Nick with up-to-date resource materials and webinars from the CCL Ag team with the hope that he will be able to provide some Farm Bureau contacts for further discussions.

Day 11

The day started with a 30-minute meeting with Katelyn Pay, the Southern Oregon Director for Rep. Greg Walden, at his Medford Office. CCL volunteers Sherrill Rinehart, David Morse, Forrest Roth, and I attended.

Rep. Greg Walden Oregon climate change

CCL volunteers Sherrill Rinehart, Forrest Roth, David Morse, and Brian Ettling with Rep. Greg Walden’s Southern Oregon Director, Katelyn Pay.

I gave an update on the most recent cities visited on the Oregon Stewardship Tour: Lakeview and Klamath Falls. I shared my surprise while visiting Lakeview that they are a net exporter of clean energy. I emphasized Sherrill and I were amazed by all of the development and commitment to clean energy in Lake County. I shared with Katelyn that Lakeview represents a terrific model for the future for Oregon and nationwide how a community transition to clean energy while creating jobs at the same time.

Our primary ask in this meeting was for Katelyn to ask Rep. Walden to join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus and consider supporting CCL’s carbon fee and dividend proposal. Overall, this was a very productive, friendly and helpful meeting for building relationships between constituents and Rep. Walden’s office.

Brian Ettling is originally from St. Louis, Missouri, and is a 25 year seasonal park ranger at Crater Lake Park, Oregon. Since 2012, Brian has volunteered with Citizens’ Climate Lobby, and he is a Climate Reality Leader & Mentor.