Courage is Contagious
November 25, 2019

Climate hope—and climate courage—took center stage at Climate Solutions' annual dinner last week in Portland, where our inspiring keynote speaker was Don Sampson,Climate Change Project Director for the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians.

In the face of a crisis as daunting as the climate crisis literally burning around us, courage and even hope can seem to be in short supply. But we must find both, despite the political roadblocks that we can expect to be thrown our way.

Both climate hope and climate courage start with a sober assessment of the crisis. During his remarks at our dinner, Don shared an encounter at the recent youth-led climate strike, where he saw a young woman carrying a sign that read: “You’ll die of old age. I’ll die of climate change.”
“We’re are all facing a future where a positive outcome is not guaranteed,” Don said. “Constructively confronting this reality requires not hope but courage... People are rising up in popular protests to pressure policymakers and companies to change direction.”

“I can only look into my children and grandchildren’s eyes knowing I fought as hard as I could for their future,” Don told us. “Each of our children are Greta Thunbergs and Tokata Iron Eyes, and they are saying now is the time for us to show our courage, action, and determination. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”

We find ourselves this season at a crucial moment for climate action in our region, and in the world. The threats we face have never been clearer—but models are everywhere at hand for effective action to accelerate towards a clean energy economy. Here in Oregon, TriMet has begun to add all-electric buses to its fleet. Companies like Vigor Industrial and Daimler are investing in major clean energy projects here. The Umatilla Tribe is planning and making dramatic investments in clean energy and efficiency measures, including plans to transition their regional bus transit system—the largest rural transit system in Oregon—to zero-emissions.
And we’re determined and ready for change in Oregon. Climate hope was alive even as our momentum seemed to stall in last spring’s campaign for Clean Energy Jobs. Hope is important, but it is not itself a method—we need to continue acting on climate.
With that in mind, we’re headed into 2020 poised to press for statewide climate action in Oregon on three fronts: First, we will continue to push for Clean Energy Jobs legislation, supporting our climate champions in Salem and holding all legislators accountable. Second, if the Legislature fails, we will call on Governor Kate Brown to take strong executive action to move Oregon forward.
Finally, we are prepared to take the urgent question of climate action directly to the people of Oregon with an initiative which would lead our state to achieve 100% clean electricity by 2045, invest in clean transportation and clean buildings, create new clean energy jobs, and prioritize benefits for low-income communities and Oregon communities of color.
For 20 years, Climate Solutions has been an active catalyst and advocate, building a powerful constituency for local, regional, and national action on climate change. Your participation is so crucial, so thank you for all the ways you are engaged and for supporting climate solutions more broadly in this world. If you are able, please consider making a gift now to help support this important work. Thank you!

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Author Bio

Gregg Small

Executive Director, Climate Solutions

Gregg brings nearly 25 years of experience working on environmental and public policy issues, including 20 as an Executive Director. At Climate Solutions, Gregg oversees a staff of two dozen policy experts, campaigners, innovators, and researchers across three Northwest offices, providing strategic direction for one of the most effective regional climate and clean economy organizations in the nation. 

Prior to coming to Climate Solutions, Gregg served as the Executive Director of the Washington Toxics Coalition for 7 years and as the Executive Director of the California-based Pesticide Watch for 5 years. During that time, he played a leadership role in creating and developing a number of leading coalitions working on environmental health issues, including the Toxic Free Legacy Coalition,Californians for Pesticide Reform, and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Bodies. At Climate Solutions, he helped to found the Washington-based Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy and Renew Oregon.

Gregg began his professional career as an organizer for Green Corps, working in Washington, DC, Vermont, and California. He received his B.A. in Political Science from Dickinson College.

When not at work, Gregg spends time with his family and raising awareness about Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic disease that his son Jude has and that he is passionate about finding a cure for.