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.Read more
Oregon PSR is 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. Continue reading for a short profile on each of our new Board members, along with quotes from them on why they joined our Board.Read more
Oregon PSR approaches the work of our Peace Program with an acknowledgement of the interconnected nature of the multiple public health crises that we now face. We work for peace knowing that there can be no real peace without justice, and that systemic failures in our society must be met with strategic thinking, innovative ideas, and direct engagement with our communities.
Working in coalition with our many partners, we bring the trusted voice of health to bear on nuclear disarmament, building peace and anti-militarism, ending gun violence, and supporting the movements for racial justice, immigrant justice, and police accountability. That all of these intersecting societal ills are severe public health threats means that health professionals and public health advocates can play a vital role in creating a more just and peaceful future.Read more
Pandemic. Racist violence. Wildfires and smoke. Recession. This year has tested us in a multitude of ways, while also giving us a snapshot of what lies ahead should we be unable to rise to the global challenge of mitigating the climate crisis.
All of us who care about public health are being called in this moment to work together for a livable future. It starts with Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) being able to live without fear of being murdered or brutalized by the police. It includes addressing the fact that the brunt of environmental pollution is borne by communities of color and low-income Oregonians, who are more likely to live in the blast zones of oil trains or along busy roads with high concentrations of diesel particulate matter.Read more
Oregon PSR began this past May to advocate for Oregon state prisoners out of concerns relative to the COVID-19 pandemic and the dire consequences of a deadly outbreak in our state prisons. Since then, we’ve written several letters to the Governor’s office, which manages the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC), and have partnered with Oregon Justice Resource Center (OJRC) for the recent Mass Incarceration and Public Health webinar to better educate ourselves and others on the issues facing Oregon state prisons and the communities that live within them. We will be partnering with OJRC, which continues to advocate for prisoners around the state and provides resources regarding incarceration issues, for more webinars in the near future, including one on the intersections of climate change and mass incarceration.Read more
At the beginning of 2020, Oregon PSR began a campaign aimed at closing the waste incinerator that has been in operation for 34 years in Brooks, Oregon, just north of Salem. This incinerator has been burning not only residential waste but also out-of-state medical waste which, when burned, releases toxic chemicals into the air that our communities breathe. We know that not only is spewing toxic fumes harmful to the environment and the health of our communities, but that there are more efficient and truly clean solutions to waste reduction and energy production. We also know that, in order for our waste and energy solutions to be truly equitable, we must include the communities most affected in the conversations as we move towards better solutions.Read more
On July 7th, 2017, a United Nations conference adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. On October 24th, 2020,, Honduras became the 50th country to ratify the treaty, which will begin to take effect in 90 day. This historic treaty was led by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which received the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for their work. Oregon PSR is the local affiliate of ICAN and in 2019 secured support for the treaty from the Oregon legislature and the City of Portland.
Oregon PSR endorses the following ballot measures in the November 2020 election. Also, please note that our lack of endorsement doesn’t necessarily mean that we oppose a ballot measure, only that our Board of Directors has decided not to make a formal endorsement.Read more
On September 17th, health professionals and public health advocates with Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility issued a plea to Governor Kate Brown and the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) to prioritize public health in state prisons and to work collaboratively with health experts to avoid continued loss of life and dignity in Oregon prisons. The call comes amid many suspected COVID-19 deaths, outbreaks in nine Oregon prisons, and inhumane conditions experienced by adults in custody who were evacuated due to fast-spreading wildfires.Read more
Our hearts are heavy with the enormous loss and destruction Oregon and other Western states have endured this past week from devastating wildfires. Unhealthy air from wildfire smoke continues to blanket our region. The cities of Talent and Phoenix in the Rogue Valley have been decimated, including the main offices of our valued partner, Rogue Climate. Communities in Clackamas County, Marion County, Lane County, and Jackson County have been displaced and are in urgent need of support. Meanwhile, intense hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and typhoons in Japan confirm that climate chaos is upon us.Read more