State of This Oregon Progressive December 2011

Albert Kaufman

State of This Oregon Progressive December 2011

I pay attention to politics: local, national and international more than your average citizen. I donate money to candidates and causes, travel to Washington, DC to lobby Congress from time to time and generally lead an activist life. It's been a while since I've posted on BlueOregon and I thought I'd send word of one progressive's doings and thinkings as the year 2011 comes to a close.

I'm probably not alone in feeling some frustration at the state of the world and the movement of progressive policies forward. It does seem at times that the Oregonian and other right-wing media voices do a great job of convincing me/us that the Republicans in the House run Washington, DC - that Obama is a weak president; that the Occupy movement is just people who make more work for our parks department. But actually, a lot of great stuff has happened this year, too. I'm committed to continuing to help move progressive policies forward in Oregon and beyond in 2012. Here's some of what I've been involved in this year and a little progress report.

SB 525 - a piece of legislation that aimed to move Oregon to an opt-in system for phonebooks. I was recently reminded of this effort the other day when DEX dumped its books on my neighbor's porch and I realized that this fight is not over yet. This year saw great movement forward on this issue. San Fran banned Phonebooks completely and Seattle went to a strict opt-out system which has led to a huge lessening in the number of people who are receiving the books there. In Oregon, Democrat Senator Lee Beyer let the bill die without a hearing in the Business, Transportation and Economic Development Committee which he chairs. Though I had some support from the Oregon Environmental Council and Metro and DEQ showed some interest, I have mostly been working on this issue on my own. This year I've built up an email list of interested supporters, created a Facebook fan page and run an active petition campaign which over 2,575 people have signed. Two things I'm missing are an active champion in Salem and probably more time to personally visit legislators. As people do more and more things on-line, I imagine that phonebooks will probably die on their own, but since they're such a waste of resources it seems like a good thing to push back on from the consumer side, as well.

Tree planting. One way I believe that climate change can be lessened is by planting trees so I have been serving as the neighborhood coordinator for Friends of Trees in Irvington. Last year our area neighborhoods planted 212 trees and we'll be at it again on March 10, 2012. I am an especially big fan of the Portland Fruit Tree Project, as well. I would love to see more fruit and nut trees planted everywhere and work to make that happen.

Population Growth. In October we passed the 7 billion human milestone for planet earth. This seems like the core issue to me and has for many years. A few of us thought to mark the moment by hosting a speaker and screening of two movies that talk about this topic - Mother: Caring for the 7 Billion and Growthbusters: Hooked on Growth. We had over 100 people at PSU and I'm planning another showing of Mother at the Hollywood Theater on February 20th. I've also been tracking funding for international family planning in DC and somehow the cuts to the UNFPA and USAID were not nearly as bad as people predicted they would be. This Fall I was invited to be on local cable access to speak about population growth and other environmental and social issues. The show is here for those with some time on their hands and who are curious what I think about everything, including Portlandia

Portland Sunday Parkways. I love them. Next to Last Thursday it's one of my favorite parts of living in PDX. This year besides riding in the "parade" I worked to bring the Seattle organization, Undriving, to town. It was a great success with over 200 undriver licenses handed out.

Thanks for riding along. Thanks for all you to do make this world a better place. My sense is that by reading this blog and sharing what you find here with your friends on social networks and via forwarding, you're helping to make this world a little better. Also, a big thanks to Kari C. and all of the regular writers on this site. I look to you for good thinking, honest reporting and smarts. It's an honor to be a part of this community.

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