Chapter News

Ecosocialism in Salem
A Year In Review

Hollie Oakes-Miller
March 1, 2020

Our first Ecosocialist working group meeting was held on January 24, 2019 where we began drafting our mission statement and brainstorming what we wanted to organize around locally.

Our mission statement was adopted on 02.28.19: “The Ecosocialist Working Group of Salem Oregon Democratic Socialists of America works for the transition to a socialist economic system which is sustainable, regenerative, and supports all life on Earth for future generations.

We recognize that capitalism, through fostering competition and producing for profit instead of use, creates widespread ecological destruction. We recognize that environmental crises caused by capitalism impact the poor, the working-class, people of color, and indigenous communities the hardest. We recognize that these crises negatively impact all our relations including non-human life, along with the air, the water, the soil, and all other parts of our natural world upon which we depend.

Therefore we organize, educate, and agitate for the end of capitalism and for an ecosocialist future where the most vulnerable lives and ecosystems are protected first; and Earth, our home, is respected and cared for.”

The main areas we chose to focus our initial efforts on were supporting local climate struggles such as Salem's non-existent climate plan, working in coalition with other climate groups to host public actions such as Climate Strike, and implementing zero waste solutions and permaculture locally.

Our members have coordinated with and attended all the major climate rallies, marches, and actions that have been held locally. Of particular note are the actions during September's Climate Strike where we supported a student led rally at the Capitol, collaborated with 350 Salem to protest a Chase Bank in West Salem, and organized our own action, a mock funeral for salmon to highlight the impact of climate change on the iconic native salmon and the other beloved inhabitants of our world.

On the Salem Climate Plan front, we met with City Councilor, Tom Anderson, at our June meeting and City Planning Commissioner, Casey Kopcho, at our November meeting, both of whom gave reports on the progress toward implementing a climate plan in Salem. We have a lot of work to do on this which means we need more people with the desire and capacity to focus on this important step toward reducing our carbon footprint locally.

Toward the zero waste effort, we work in coalition with Clean Air Now to equitably transition away from outdated modes of waste management, namely the use of the Covanta Marion incinerator, and toward zero waste models. We lobbied DEQ over granting air quality permits to the Covanta Marion waste incinerator and are currently lobbying against House Bill 4049 that would grant renewable energy credits to Covanta for burning waste, which is a non-renewable resource. On Feb 1 we had a great discussion panel about local waste issues and possible solutions at our Salem, We Have A Waste Problem event. We also came in slightly under budget and solicited enough funds to cover our expenses.

Due to the limited capacity of our small group, we have had less success organizing around permaculture. There are several among us who are passionate about implementing permaculture practices locally at various levels, but in order to be effective, we need more people to join our efforts.

At our Feb 15 chapter meeting our working group was chartered into a formal committee, so we will be voting on committee leaders soon!