Ecotrust isn’t a political organization. We don’t endorse candidates, issue scorecards, or hold rallies. But we do believe fiercely that stronger communities and ecosystems are possible, and we believe that policy — the tangible output of the political process — is a critical tool for creating the better world we seek. Particularly as we face a rapidly warming planet and an economic system that is leaving more and more people behind, we need to use every tool we’ve got.
Consider two current pieces of climate legislation — the carbon fee Washington votes on next week and the climate bill expected in the Oregon legislature in 2019. Ecotrust has helped people on all sides of the issue — the timber industry, tribes, family forest landowners, policymakers, environmentalists — understand the multiple benefits of what we call climate-smart forestry. With the right market and regulatory incentives, landowners can manage for profit, jobs, wildlife habitat, resilience to devastating wildfires, and carbon sequestration. We can fight global warming and enable rural economic development. With the right policies in place we can get there faster, and at scale.
That extends to food and agriculture. Over the last seven years, Oregon’s nationally-recognized Farm to School and School Garden Grant Program has provided $10.4 million in grants to Oregon schools to purchase Oregon foods and to implement farm- and garden-based education. Along with some great partners, Ecotrust has worked quietly behind the scenes to help legislators see that a modest investment from the state allows school districts to feed more Oregon-grown food to our kids. One of our studies found that every dollar invested in local food purchasing generated $2 in additional local economic activity. Good for kids, good for Oregon farmers and ranchers, good for rural economies. This program is a catalytic use of Oregon tax dollars made possible by public will and policymakers’ actions.
“As we face a rapidly warming planet and an economic system that is leaving more and more people behind, we need to use every tool we’ve got.”
I’m pretty confident that no one reading this message needs me to tell them to vote. But as we hit the homestretch of the most violent and divisive campaign season I can remember, I am inspired by my colleagues and partners throughout our region — ranchers to real estate developers, commercial fishermen to tribal commissioners — who recognize that we do best when we acknowledge our interdependence, seek common purpose, and take action with a long view.
For Ecotrust, this collaborative, long-horizon approach to policy isn’t just mission-aligned, it’s mission critical — especially when it comes to the urgency of dealing with climate change and the inequities wrought by our economy. On Tuesday, my vote will go to people and policies that address urgent needs in ways that serve the best interests of my kids and the generations that follow them.
P.S. In Oregon, we’re standing alongside partners, friends, and neighbors against racial profiling. Oregon voters can learn here why their vote No on Measure 105 matters so much.