What a difference a year can make


(Editor’s Note: Viewpoint submissions on this and other topics are always welcome as part of our goal to encourage community discussion and exchange of perspectives.)

July 18, 2020 — This past Wednesday, July 15, marked the one-year anniversary of when I made a request to the Florence City Council to recognize the existential threat posed by rapid and escalating climate change.

During public comment one year ago, I asked city councilors to adopt a resolution that pledges to join forces with community, state and federal entities to address our climate crisis and, more importantly, create a commission that includes a wide range of interested parties in order to develop a comprehensive Climate Action Plan for the City of Florence.

Unfortunately, I received no formal response from anyone in city government.

Then in September, Greta Thunberg, the young climate activist from Sweden arrived on the scene calling for rallies and repeated Friday Climate Strikes. She was an inspiration to many across the country and in Florence, including me. Florence Organizes’ (FOR) Environmental Group organized a big climate rally to educate and excite our citizens and I started weekly Climate Strikes at City Hall to garner action.  

Later in the year because little was happening, I created the Florence Climate Emergency Campaign and started collecting signatures on a petition with the same request made previously to our city government.

Later we joined with the national group Elders Climate Action to share and learn from other climate activists across the country. More recently, I discovered the 350 Oregon Central Coast and am looking forward to collaborating with them and other coastal communities.

Because climate education is so important for the youth in our town who will become our future leaders, we added a second goal to our efforts, advocating for the Siuslaw School District to add climate to its curriculum in all subjects grades K-12, along with training opportunities for green occupations similar to what the state of New Jersey has done.

Friday, July 10, was our 43rd Climate Strike with still no formal response from the Florence City Council. In the realm of climate education there are many to take into account.

Members of the Campaign are researching what other local governments are doing to declare a climate emergency. They discovered 96 cities and counties across the United States that have made that step and are obtaining their resolutions.

Others are gathering signatures for our climate petition bringing our total to 270 signatories. The signatories include a diverse group that includes city councilors, school board members, teachers, students, candidates for city and state offices, ministers, library patrons, business owners, environmental activists and a myriad of town residents.

Many have participated in Friday Climate Strikes at City Hall since the first one in September 2019.

Many sent comments to city councilors and Letters to-the-Editor at the Siuslaw News.

Our local community radio station KXCR responded with PSA’s for our Friday Climate Strikes and an interview on Community Conversations about the Florence Climate Emergency Campaign.

There is still hope for the Florence City Council to act since, at an earlier work session, it was agreed they would make an environmental proclamation which may happen at the upcoming virtual City Council meeting on July 20. 

This would be a good first step towards the resolution we are calling for in our petition.

The lesson learned here is that persistence and serendipity can pay off with big dividends.

Our struggles with COVID-19 should not be a hindrance but a lesson on how to react to a crisis.  

Let’s not make us wait another year.

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