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Climate Change on Screen: Voices of the Valley Roars Loudly in Southern Oregon

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HB2020/Clean Energy Jobs Lobby Day in Salem on Feb 6, 2019. Photo courtesy of Kathy Conway

How many times has one heard the phrase, “change is inevitable?” Yet when it comes to the climate change conversation, it’s an inevitability some find difficult to discuss, while others grieve over the knowledge of its in-motion process, and others refuse to embrace it at all. The documentary Voices of the Valley, is a Southern Oregon Climate Action Now (SOCAN) project started in 2016 to raise awareness and offer a medium for local conversation on the topic. Opening with a powerful call to action to address environmental issues, the narrator asks: “Climate change is happening. Is human change happening too?”

But how can average citizens make a difference when they believe detrimental transformation is already happening and feel powerless to stop it. Or when they have a belief structure that contradicts presented science about climate change? The 68-minute documentary entitled, Voices of the Valley, was started by project leader Liz Olson because she saw a need for a storytelling angle.

“I come from more of a narrative humanities perspective,” she states. SOCAN has lots of material and education for the community about climate change but to make it personal with the spoken word was important to her.

The film itself was made with the assistance of local SOCAN volunteers like Steve Dieffenbacher, on-camera interviewer and retired journalist. SOCAN’s website states: “The goals of this project are two-fold: first, to give an opportunity for people of the Rogue Valley in Oregon the chance to voice their concerns about climate change; secondly, to have their stories raise awareness and make an impact on their fellow citizens in a way that is direct, real and applicable to their own lives.”

The documentary opens with Dr. James Shames, Medical Director for Jackson County Health Department, discussing the ramifications of climate change on public health. Later in the film, farm workers present their experience of how it has affected their health and work environment. Oregon Shakespeare Festival administrators point out how many theatrical productions have climate change as a common theme. There are over a dozen locals young and older sharing moving accounts of how climate change has impacted them and suggestions for how to address it. Kathy Conway, SOCAN co-facilitator, offers hope: “Transparency and action are the antidotes to climate change.”

The documentary is available online socan.eco. Also, a live presentation and speaker can be requested.

SOCAN does not have any immediate plans to add to the documentary, but with rapid change occurring, it lends itself to updating. Members of SOCAN sub-groups have been laser focused on House Bill 2020 introduced by the Joint Committee on Carbon reduction.

The bill aims to cap Oregon greenhouse gas emissions. Taken directly from the draft: “Greenhouse gas” includes, but is not limited to, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride and nitrogen trifluoride.”

Alan Journet of the climate activist coalition and SOCAN co-facilitator says, “Once hearings are done and input from the hearings and proposed modifications to the bill are made, version two will be available and there will be an opportunity to comment and make edits.” In his understanding, the goal is to get the bill through by the end of April.

“The heat is on to change our patterns of consumption,” says Olson. But she also states, “We can do a lot more than we think we can together.”

SOCAN Next General Meeting
6 pm, Tuesday, March 26
Medford Public Library, 205 S. Central Ave., Medford

 

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