Last week I had the pleasure of joining several hundred Portlanders to hear author and activist Bill McKibben speak at our colossal local bookstore, Powell’s Books. He began by talking a bit about his latest book, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and The Durable Future, which challenges the premises of our current growth-based economy, provides examples of vibrant local economies around the world, and suggests that many of our current social, environmental, and monetary ills could be alleviated if local regions generated more of their own food, produced more of their own energy, and provided more of their own culture and entertainment.
As McKibben neared the end of his obligatory summary of Deep Economy, his eyes brightened and his voice grew excited for what has been his latest endeavor: organizing a nation-wide collective of events calling on Congress to “Step It Up,â€? and cut carbon 80% by 2050. As I write this, 1,349 “Step It Upâ€? events are planned in all 50 states, and McKibben has been garnering national news attention as the event date, April 14th, grows near.
Although significant downtown rallies are being planned around the nation, most events are spread throughout urban and suburban neighborhoods, so participants won’t have to travel far to find one (what’s the point in fighting climate change if you have to burn a lot of fuel to do it?).
Here in Portland there are ten grass-roots events planned across the city. Between a Polar Bear Plunge in the polluted Willamette River, a Climate Change Awareness Bike Ride, a conference on Melting Mountains, and more, Portlanders have the opportunity to celebrate this “National Day of Climate Actionâ€? however and wherever they see fit.
To find out more about “Step It Up!â€? and learn what events are happening in your community, check out www.stepitup2007.org. Hope to see you here, there, and everywhere.