Reflection by Meg Bender and Brittany D’Souza
It was our last full day on immersion and we spent our day today in the Columbia River Gorge. Mayor Arlene Burns and Peter from the Friends of the Gorge were our guides for the day. It started with a presentation, then they took us to Mosier. Mosier was the location of an oil car derailment in June of 2016. Luckily nobody was hurt but it opened their eyes to what could’ve been. This tragedy also became a focusing event for the community to become further engaged in climate activism. Mayor Burns taught us that small actions can have large positive outcomes. Her position as mayor is a volunteer position and she has devoted it to improving her community. Mosier has been represented in global conferences, including a gathering of mayors from major cities, such as Los Angeles and Houston, around the world in Chicago to commit their cities to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. While Mosier with a population of 430 doesn’t scream major city, Mayor Burns has taken the hand that they’ve been dealt to the world stage. Proving that no matter how small you believe your contribution may be, it adds to a global effort.
Later in the day, we took the time to get outside and explore the Gorge a bit more. We ended up on a hike at Horse Thief Butte, which provided amazing views of Mount Hood and the river below. As we rested after climbing up the Butte, we reflected on all the knowledge shared with us about the amazing body of water coursing below.
Finally, we ended our day by meeting with a group of activists from the local high school. The student activists testified before their city council and eventually approved the plan. This provided experience around the difficulties in getting policy approved and challenges they faced as young advocates. Overall, they provided us hope and reminded us of the fire many of us carried as younger adults. The passion that they have is evident and we were inspired to have the courage to advocate in any possible way going forward.
Brittany and Meg