Southern Oregon Climate Action Now

10 Anniversary Celebration

September 17, 2022

Invited comments by Vanessa Ogier

2019 Master Climate Protector Graduate

Thank you for inviting me. I’ve been asked to talk for a few minutes about the newly formed Sustainability and Energy Action Taskforce in Grants Pass, nicknamed SEAT.

Like all good stories this started years ago back in 2019. The group I helped to co organize Josephine Climate Alliance held a local action in solidarity with a youth led global climate strike.

Millions of folks across multi generations in over 150 countries gathered to demand action on the climate crisis. Estimates as high as 4 million people participated in actions.

In the days leading up to the Grants Pass protest I attended a Josephine County Board of Commissioners meeting. My intention was to not only encourage these local leaders to take action on the climate crisis but to also come join us the day of the event. I was met with laughter and dismissal. It was at this moment that I realized in order to get anything done I would have to get on the inside of government. In the next election cycle I filed for public office and won my seat.

Fast forward to January of 2021. During the grants pass city council’s strategic planning process of 2021 my fellow councilor Brian De La Grange was instrumental in leading the charge in getting SEAT onto the council’s top five priorities for the year. In the months leading up to the first taskforce meeting there were several preliminary meetings in which the precise scope and membership qualifications were developed. This was in coordination with a couple of city staff members, ambitious community members and two councilors including myself. Once the city council approved the focus of the taskforce and membership qualifications it was off to the races.

SEAT has been tasked with creating an energy action plan for the city to provide recommendations in lowering our municipal GHG emissions with eventual hopes for carbon neutrality. The taskforce will work closely with the Urban Tree Advisory Committee to help sequester carbon emissions. They will also take a lead role in educating the community on this topic and helping to frame the discussion on why this work is important.

Just this week the committee met our RARE member that will be working with us full time. RARE is a program through Americorps that stands for Resource Assistance for Rural Environments. We have been awarded, through a competitive process, an exceptionally qualified young woman to work with us full time on this project for 11 months.

The taskforce has broken out into subcommittees that plan to work overtime in the next several of months to pull together the strings for the draft plan. The real work is just beginning.. It is anticipated to have a plan ready for adoption by the city council prior to fall of 2023 before the RARE member’s time expires. Once the plan is completed it shall be integrated into future planning processes for the city.

You might be wondering how SOCAN folds into all of this. The master climate protector class teaches both the facts of the crisis that we face and also how to take action on it. My graduating from this Class catapulted me not only into a deep desire to take climate action but it also allowed me to find passionate like minded folks to help get the job done. I would be remissed if I did not emphasize that the effort in Grants Pass has taken a community of folks to accomplish. The support system that SOCAN provides is incredible. SOCAN was great in placing calls to action when the establishment process of the taskforce was happening to ensure friends of the climate showed up to voice support. There is even a SOCAN representative serving on SEAT.

I’d like to close by thanking Kathy, Alan and all of SOCAN’s leadership from the bottom of my heart for inspiring so many to take action in many different ways. SOCAN has been a launching pad for so much positive change. Thank you so much for all of your advocacy and thank you for everyone here tonight that continues to push forward in the face of a climate disaster that feels impossible at times. I want to thank you on behalf of my generation and those that come after me.