Creamsicles and climate at Portland’s Pedalpalooza
By Jack Baker
Portland, Oregon’s unique bike culture hits its peak at Pedalpalooza—a month-long, volunteer-driven bike festival held every June. Well over 100 bike rides take place throughout the month with themes ranging from doughnuts and tacos to policy and activism. Francine Chinitz, a volunteer based in Portland, has been participating in these rides for the past two decades. “For the longest time I wanted to lead a ride, but I didn’t have a theme—and each ride needs a theme. This year it all came together,” Francine said. She realized, “Oh, climate change is something I would love to talk about, and I finally have a solution that can give people hope.”
Francine hosted her ride, dubbed “Cycles, Creamsicles, and Climate,” twice this year. Each time, Francine and her group of creamsicle-loving, climate-concerned cyclists covered a lot of ground, biking all over Portland, stopping every once in a while to enjoy the cool treats and talk about climate change. Francine would introduce an issue—rising sea levels, the carbon budget, and local economic effects to name a few—and talk about how CCL’s Carbon Fee & Dividend would address each.
One of the stops was a sonic dish that allows people to talk to one another across the Willamette River. “I called it my echo chamber of cynicism, and I encouraged people to get out of that echo chamber,” said Francine. “We are still lucky enough that we do live in a democracy, and we have access to our representatives. I feel that it’s a moral obligation for us to participate in our democracy, since people with the least amount of power and voice in our government will be affected the most.”
Another stop on the ride was at a sculpture made out of metal and concrete. “It reminded me of a war zone, because it felt like remnants of a building. So I decided to talk about climate refugees and rising tides and how many people would be displaced,” Francine explained. “It’s a little incomprehensible to have that many people displaced and to figure out where they would all go.” Not only were the creamsicles and popsicles a hit, but Francine was able to get a majority of the cyclists to write a letter to their members of Congress and even got two of cyclists to join the CCL community.
Francine’s day job includes a lot of work around energy efficiency. “About 10 years ago, I went to a weekend training and got a lot of great information, and of course became real alarmed about [climate change]. The one thing that I took away from that, was that any solution needed to be at the national level in order to make the magnitude of change we needed in time.” In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, Francine became increasingly alarmed about climate change and the fact that action needed to happen now, so Francine decided to join the fight and became a CCL volunteer.
When asked why she joined CCL over other climate-focused organizations, Francine answered, “I chose CCL because of the fact they work on the national level and that their values really resonate with me—building trust, listening, nonpartisanship, and being positive. I feel so enthusiastic about this solution, because I feel it will be so much more effective than anything else.”
Jack Baker is a Legislative Intern in CCL’s D.C. office. Jack graduated from Virginia Tech in May of 2018 with a B.S. in Environmental Policy and Planning. This fall, Jack will start a graduate program in Climate Sciences at the University of Bern.