It’s Our Movement Moment

Graphic of the outline of the state of Oregon.For the last 11 years, OPAL has organized the people who are most impacted by environmental injustice: people of color, low-income people, and working families. Together we’ve created campaigns around the vision of a safer, healthier environment. We’ve won safer bus stops, $1.3M in fare relief for low-income riders, and have lowered youth fares. We’ve won inclusionary housing policies to further housing choice and mobility. We’ve changed Federal policy, won national recognition from the Environmental Protection Agency, and have been recognized by awards from Poverty USA and the Oregon Public Health Institute.

We’re winning locally and regionally by organizing and mobilizing people of color and people with low incomes. Our base of supporters is multiracial, multigenerational, and includes strong representation among people with disabilities, LGBTQIA, youth, and elders. We focus on transit-dependent people, renters, and residents of communities where environmental injustice is most felt. We provide community members the tools to advocate for self-determination: leadership development, political education, and skill building in direct action.

OPAL is proud to announce that in 2017, our grassroots mobilization of impacted communities will be expanding statewide.

We’re bringing together those who are already organizing highly-impacted people – groups like Unite Oregon, PCUN, Beyond Toxics, and APANO – to define what Environmental Justice looks like in Oregon, from high-level state policies to hyperlocal neighborhood campaigns. We’re building an ongoing alliance that will answer key questions, such as: What do farmworkers in Woodburn want from their local government, and how can all of us who depend on the fruits of their labor support them? How do transit-dependent people in Portland share our successes with low-income residents of rural communities? What are our shared priorities, not just in the form of legislative agendas in Salem but reflected locally in our cities and towns? How can our communities show up and throw down for environmental justice and climate justice across the state?

To answer these questions, we will bring highly-impacted people together to speak for themselves. Our alliance centers the idea that leadership and power must come from the grassroots. Environmental Justice principles call for policy agendas to be set by those who are most impacted and who are the experts of their own experience. We are called upon to activate our communities by organizing, creating ownership and deep investment in the solutions presented. We must earn a sense of belonging, trust, and the commitment of individuals in order to take collective action. Together, we will build power for Environmental Justice and Civil Rights in our communities across Oregon.

Radical transformation and a re-imagining of the systems which determine how we live our lives is difficult and will take time. We recognize that everything is at stake and the responsibility is ours to create a better, just future. At our core, we believe that the pathway to long-term system change goes beyond one piece of legislation, one policy change, or any election cycle – it comes from building a stronger community.  

Utilizing diverse tactics, from legal challenges to nonviolent direct action, members will move the policies they identify as beneficial to improving their lived environments, and in solidarity with others statewide. From Flint to Standing Rock, we’ve seen many examples of how environmental injustice is perpetuated across our country. Environmental injustices are happening right now across our state and we know that even more disasters are coming. Our statewide organizing will build unity, highlight areas of intersection, and will both prepare and protect our communities from looming threats. And as we build community power, we will do more than respond to threats: we will set our sights on ambitious goals and we’ll use proven campaign and movement strategies to win.

Ours is a vision of how social movements build and activate power, to advance state and local policies rooted in environmental justice values, including economic, racial and social justice. This is how OPAL and our network of partners will advance Oregon’s transition to an economy that works for everyone built on mutual support, trusted relationships and justice.

Join in the movement today. Together we can ensure that our communities can have the tools necessary to lead efforts to create a more just Oregon. There are many ways to get involved in this important work. You can donate, become an advocate by sharing this news, and continue to show up for this important moment in Oregon history, when our communities come together in solidarity to demand a safe and healthy environment in the places we live, work, learn, pray and play.

To stay informed about OPAL’s statewide Environmental Justice movement-building, join our email list.


Posted in Celebrations, Coalition Building, Just Transitions.