Challenging Questions for Oregonians

2019 Portland Book Festival attendees ask about climate, justice, and more

Earlier this month, Oregon Humanities attended the Portland Book Festival where we had the chance to talk about our magazine, our call for submissions, and our statewide programming and events. We handed out popcorn in exchange for challenging questions for our fellow Oregonians.

Folks as young as eight expressed concern about the ensuing climate crisis, and across age was a lot of curiosity around how we as a state can move forward despite a history of discrimination and exclusion. To keep the conversation going, here are some of the questions that you asked:

Why is global warming/climate change only a “young person thing?”
—Sophia and Michelle, age 15, Portland

What makes it so hard for our government systems to learn from our mistakes regarding equity?
—Nancy, age 55, Portland

How can Portland deal with the climate crisis on a local level?
—Ella, age 12, Portland

How do we keep accurate information accessible to all?
—Lesly, age 51, Beaverton

What are you doing to combat displacement from gentrification as an individual?
—Daniela, age 30, Portland

Are you helping global warming? 
—Mira, age 8, Portland

When will we end mass incarceration?
—Sarah, age 39, Salem

How do we, as Oregonians, balance resource industries with climate change facts without leaving anyone behind?
—Ann, age 39, Astoria 

What are you doing to support POC in the arts and sciences?
—Katherine, age 25, Portland

How can we convince Oregonians that voting is really important?
—Margi, age 63, Milwaukie 

How can we make community safe spaces more inclusive and also catered to marginalized folks?
—Nada, age 20, Portland 


Keep the conversation going by sharing your responses or other challenging questions for Oregonians below or on Facebook and Twitter.


Belonging, Conversation, Environment


1 comments have been posted.

In addressing social and environmental issues we focus almost exclusively on our failings and mistakes. Granted that we can learn much from this history, but history is full of huge success stories that we seem to ignore either because they are left out of teaching or forgotten. For instance: We defeated slavery. We ended segregation We removed poll taxes and other obstacles to voting More women than men now attend law school and ratios are about even in medical schools Same sex marriages are now legal and accepted Both major parties have had minorities and women run presidential campaigns and serve as cabinet members, members of Congress, and governors. Many wildlife species, including keystone species and top predators are making strong comebacks The US has been steadily lowering its emissions of CO2 and use of coal The list of important achievements is long and impressive. We have much to learn from them, and most importantly they give us reason to be optimistic and keep working rather than become gloomy, despairing and panicked. Are there common denominators in these success stories that unite us rather than divide us? How should we study and build on these success stories?

Wallace Kaufman | November 2019 | Lincoln County, Oregon

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