Portland’s World Environment Day (and a Night)
June 5 and 6 found us photographing the two capstone events of Portland’s month-long World Environment celebration, highlighted by the United Nation’s Environment Program naming of Portland as the US host city for World Environment Day- 2013.
The first event, during the afternoon of June 5, was a celebration for kids of all ages. The Rozone Rally blended the Rose Festival arcade with environmentally-themed educational activities, music, and the Procession of the Species- a chance to transform yourself into the costume of a favorite animal.
The second event, during the afternoon and evening of June 6, brought together political leaders, environmentalists and academicians to explain the thread that ran through the entire month. Dean Marriott, Director of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services, Oregon’s First Lady, Cylvia Hayes, Amy Fraenkel, Director of UNEP’s North American office, Dr. Kim Smith, Sociology professor at Portland State, photojournalist Gary Braasch and other leaders and artists all examined Portland’s role from different angles and different disciplines.
Their messages shared a common border: the City of Portland acts locally, creatively, and positively to preserve the life-threads of her own environment. The key word is act. Cities, states and local governments can make a difference in the way mankind approaches problems like global warming. The smallest among them- cities- may well be the most nimble, and responsive. Oregon’s Congressman Earl Blumenhauer offered a tangible example: Portland’s carbon emissions have been reduced 8% below their 1990 levels. In the same time period, the world’s carbon emissions have risen by something like 25%.
In a time of political gridlock on national decisions to lower green house gas levels and legislate life-sustaining energy policies, cities become the de facto battle lines. Their borders are circumscribed; their influence on the problem, and its solution, is not.
This work was supported by the Bureau of Environmental Services, Portland, Oregon. My sincere thanks to Kerri Garfield for co-creating the body of photographic images from these two events.