2020 has been quite the year. From the global coronavirus pandemic to the police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the ensuing Black Lives Matter uprisings for racial justice to the climate fueled wildfires and hazardous smoky air devastating our region, we have learned time and again that the basic act of breathing is not to be taken for granted.
Taking a collective deep breath, Oregon PSR’s volunteers and staff have creatively navigated the challenges of this year together, keeping our vision of a just, peaceful, and healthy world front and center as we figure out new ways to connect with each other and to bring a public health lens to address the intersecting crises we face.
As you’ll read in the newest edition of our newsletter, The Folded Crane, we’ve made progress on our foundational program work for nuclear justice, organizing a powerful program to mark the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki featuring the voices of people directly impacted by nuclear injustice, garnering attention with our new report on the dangers of small modular nuclear reactors, and launching a petition to ask OSU to use their $4.3 million nuclear security grant to model nuclear disarmament. As the local affiliate of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, we celebrated the ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in late October, making nuclear weapons illegal under international law.
We’ve deepened our work on climate chaos as a health issue, bringing our health lens to the leadership of coalitions to “stop the bad” fossil fuel projects such as the Zenith oil terminal, Kalama Methanol facility, and Jordan Cove LNG, and leading a campaign for a just transition away from the polluting waste incinerator in Marion County. At the same time, we are supporting forward thinking efforts led by frontline communities to “build the new,” including implementation of the groundbreaking Portland Clean Energy Fund and the new statewide Energy Democracy campaign to begin implementing Oregon’s Green New Deal.
You’ll also read in our latest newsletter about how we’ve expanded our reach to bring a public health lens to the injustice of mass incarceration, especially during the pandemic, and to police violence and racism as public health issues, including testifying to Oregon’s legislature and Portland City Council regarding the health impacts of police brutality, tear gas, and impact munitions used against Black Lives Matter movement supporters.
We are thrilled to welcome five new Board of Directors members this year, each of them bringing a health background along with a wealth of connections to communities most impacted by the issues we work on and impressive skills and perspectives that will help guide our organization into its 40th year of advocacy and education. Read a short profile on each of our new Board members.
While we’ve been unable to gather in person, we have made the most of videoconferencing and webinar technologies to keep connected, informed, and actively making change. If you missed any of our public events this year, such as the Greenfield Peace Writing Scholarship Awards Ceremony, which featured youth on the intersections of climate justice and immigration, or our webinar on mass incarceration as a public health crisis with the Oregon Justice Resource Center, you can watch whenever and wherever you are by clicking on the links above.
Our Healthy Climate Action Team and Peace Work Group continue to meet remotely, and we welcome new volunteers to bring their energy and ideas to expand our reach. Contact me at [email protected] if you’re ready to volunteer.
We’ve also continued our internal work to deepen our understanding and commitment to bringing justice and equity to the center of our work. Over the summer, our staff, Board, and active volunteers participated in a two-part virtual training exploring the concept of cultural humility and discussed Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist at our inaugural antiracist book club. We recognize that this is a journey we’ll always be on as individuals and as an organization, and we invite you to join us in listening, learning, and centering equity and justice into your life and your activism.
In this uncertain time, as we cherish each breath, listening to the voices of public health and medicine has never been more important. We thank each of you out there on the front lines of caring for the health of our communities during this time of intersecting crises. Oregon PSR is demonstrating how health voices can also build movements and make policy change, regardless of who holds political power.
As the pandemic and the related economic fallout continue, we rely on our members who believe in this work for your enthusiasm, as well as for your financial support, which keeps our organization strong and effective. Thank you for giving as generously as you can to ensure that we weather this storm together.
In Peace and Health,
Kelly Campbell, Oregon PSR Executive Director