Book Review: No Planet B

No Planet B is an anthology of Teen Vogue articles centering climate. All are written by youth in the years 2016-19, with some additions by the editor, Lucy Diavolo, mid-COVID. They cover a wide array of topics in three main sections: reporting, activism, and intersectionality. 

Although slightly outdated at this point, even though it was only published this year, No Planet B is an important and accessible way to understand the climate movement. You get a snapshot of some of the activists, and it helps you understand the intersections of climate breakdown and race, class, and gender. Each article was focused and well-written. At times, different articles seemed to repeat information covered in others, but if the book is read over a period of time, the review could be helpful. 

Because these articles are pieces of journalism, there are many interesting interviews with a variety of people. We have well-known activists like Greta Thunberg, activists who you may not have heard of, people who are directly facing the effects of climate change on the ground, and even politicians. It feels well-rounded. 

If you’re looking for a book that covers a lot of ground in a few words, this book is probably for you. I recommend No Planet B to young people getting started on their activism journeys, and people who want to learn about the climate crisis but don’t want to wade through academic texts. It’s a solid read, but not particularly groundbreaking. Although I do always love a good, pink book. 

Listen to Youth Climate Activists, Governor Kotek!

[Last November 8, former Oregon State Speaker Tina Kotek was elected governor, Oregon’s third woman governor and one of a record-breaking 12 female governors chosen by voters in 2022. Longtime activist and XRPDX rebel Lynn Handlin sent Kotek this letter on Winter Solstice, December 21, 2022. – Ed.]

Dear Governor-Elect Kotek,

I happily and frequently canvassed for you in Clackamas County, including in Molalla and Happy Valley – not the easiest areas – and was thrilled when you won.

I am concerned that since then I have heard not one word about climate change from you or your staff. Lots of pro-business stuff, and some potentially good stuff around housing, but dead silence on climate. Please tell me this is a momentary aberration and that you have some very good plans that you will begin implementing on Day 1. [Note: Governor-Elect Kotek’s website does not mention climate issues. Check it out here.]

Also, I strongly urge you to meet with people from the climate justice activist community and especially from the youth activists. There are many very well informed, strong climate activists who are still in High School. Meet with them, and really, really listen to them. Your predecessor [Governor Kate Brown] failed in this area, met with them once and proceeded to talk down to them, and did nothing. They have many excellent ideas, know their stuff and it is their futures we are currently ruining with inaction.

Thank you,

Lynn Handlin

What a Year!

2022 was a year of “firsts” and “agains” for Extinction Rebellion in Portland.

First time to use a structured analysis process to choose our 2 main campaigns – ANCE and Scrub the Hub/Shut Down Zenith. First time to organize two peace rallies, in February and March. First time to support scientists William Livernois and Bernadette Rodgers in their direct action at Portland Business Alliance offices as part of international Scientist Rebellion. First time to have a student intern, Syl Knauss of Lewis and Clark, join our team. First time to challenge Oregon’s 2 senators to walk their climate talk and oppose Manchin’s dirty side deal. And first time to join our allies in a flotilla on the McKenzie River to advocate for sparing what’s left of our mature/old growth forests from destructive “timber harvests.” 

Again, we took the City Council to task for not creating or implementing policies to live up to their promises in the 2020 Climate Emergency Declaration. Again we assembled on a rainy June day, with art, music, speeches and determination, at the gates of Zenith. Again and again, we watched Zenith’s attorneys at Stoel Rives fail to overturn the City’s decision to deny the Texas-based corporation its Land Use Compatibility Statement — only to see the City reverse itself in a backroom deal 2 days before the Oregon Supreme Court would have refused the oil logistics corporation’s final appeal! Again, we rallied and did outreach: at City Hall, at the Federal Buildings in downtown and Northeast Portland; in neighborhoods. Again, we stood together with our allies in the environmental justice, youth, faith and climate organizations, including at a Passover-themed protest at Chase Bank and a youth climate activist training in the fall. Finally, again, we were able to gather in person for social events, marches, hearings and our “Rumble on the River” forums, although our meetings mostly stayed on zoom.

From a media/social media standpoint, 2022 was a very mixed year. Climate issues got all too little attention in Portland’s mainstream media, as homelessness/housing, crime and cost of living crises dominated the news and the midterm elections. Isabella Garcia of the Portland Mercury kept a keen eye on the Zenith struggle; here’s her most recent article. Twitter was bought, and befouled, by billionaire Elon Musk; our account is now deactivated. In happier news, our Instagram and Facebook accounts are going strong, and our blog bloomed, with more genres of writing, from poetry to government testimony, and more authors than before. Blog author and poster-to-Facebook Damon DiCicco recently welcomed his son Vincent James. Big thanks to regular Media working group contributors Margaret, Diane, Lynn, Mark, annie, Damon, Michaela, Tri, Syl, and Victoria, with tech support from Wendy.

With love and rage, we build from here.

Adah Crandall’s Speech at Zenith

[Note: Adah Crandall was unable to give her speech at the “Doom or Bloom” event at Zenith Energy transshipment facility on June 4, 2022. Liam Castles read her speech, with a few introductory remarks. Liam Castles (he/they) is an organizer with Portland Youth Climate Strike and Sunrise’s Youth vs. ODOT campaign. They’ve worked on the Portland Youth Climate Summit and met with elected officials to advocate for stronger climate policies like last year’s treasury transparency bill.]


Before I go into what Adah has asked me to share with you, I want to remind you that a few weeks ago at the climate strike, Commissioner Carmen Rubio and Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty signed the climate pledge. They committed to no new fossil fuel infrastructure. Now it’s our job to hold them accountable. That means there are only three more city commissioners to go, and all of them need to hear our voices, so let’s make as much noise as we can!

Adah’s speech:

On May 20, thousands of Portland students walked out of school demanding our leaders take bold, urgent action to stop the climate crisis. At the strike, we named 4 local climate villains: Northwest Natural, the Portland Business Alliance, the Oregon Dept. of Transportation, and Zenith. 

Zenith has been at the center of Portland climate advocacy for years. The facility is a threat to our communities, safety, and environment. Its activities are actively contributing to climate chaos in our city, yet the majority of our elected officials act like they have no idea. 

Stopping the climate crisis means disrupting business as usual, and rapidly transitioning us away from fossil fuels. Zenith is a barrier to true climate progress in Portland, relying on the capitalist status quo to continue justifying their harm. 

All of us are here today because we know that things need to change. That Zenith and the other climate villains have no place in our city, or anywhere. 

Portland has the opportunity to be a leader in taking bold climate action, but how can we lead when corporations like Zenith are right here in our own backyard? Many elected officials in Portland claim to be leaders on climate, but if they truly want to do what’s right, it is crucial that they stand with us in the fight to stop Zenith. 

As a young person, I am terrified about what the climate crisis means for my future. Devastating heat waves and wildfires will only worsen with every day our leaders refuse to act. My generation can see with stark clarity both the need and possibility for radical change in our world. We have a perspective older generations often lack, an ability to imagine what a better world could look like as we are so much less bound but what is considered ‘politically possible.’ 

The climate crisis is of unprecedented scale, which means that we need to match it with unprecedented action. When we harness the power of our communities, we ARE more powerful than Zenith and our climate chaos-causing status quo. We are more powerful than all of Portland’s climate villains combined, because we have what they do not: a real stake in this fight. 

The goal of the May 20 Climate Strike was to kick off a summer of climate action, and that is exactly what we are doing today. We are telling the climate villains, and Portland’s leaders, that we are not going away. We refuse to give up in this fight, because our futures are too great a stake to lose.

Youth, Power, and Collective Action: The Youth Climate Strike

A major obstacle in solving the climate crisis is that our collective interests are in conflict with those who have the most power. Collectively, most agree that a world beset by climate catastrophe is undesirable. But the individual incentives for those with the most power to implement sweeping changes are out of step with that reality. Those in the halls of government and the boardrooms of corporations skew older, and mostly won’t be around to suffer the most dire consequences of global warming. In the meantime, they continue to benefit financially from the status quo. Youth climate activist Jamie Margolin puts the problem more succinctly, saying “We had no power in creating the systems that are destroying our world and futures — and yet we are and will be paying the biggest price for the older generations’ recklessness.”

It’s natural, then, that the youth are taking the lead in the movement to protect their future. They are creating new, youth-driven networks of climate activism like the Sunrise Movement, and a variety of innovative actions aimed at making their voices heard in the face of their elders’ inertia. Some have taken their case to court, suing the United States for depriving them of life, liberty, and property in the case of Julianna v. The United States, which has evolved into the Youth v. Gov movement. Still others have formed Fridays for Future, engaging in public demonstrations every week, all across the US and beyond. Still others have gotten involved in our own Extinction Rebellion movement. 

But perhaps the most visible action by young people fighting for their future is the Youth Climate Strike, a widespread mass action taking place in Portland on May 20th. The demands are sweeping, but simple. As activist Nyombi Morris of Uganda put it before the suspension of his twitter account, “I want to see leaders changing their behaviors and valuing people’s lives. I want to see a world where everyone is comfortable with what he or she has and isn’t worrying that when it rains that they will have to move to another place.”

It’s easy to imagine the voices of youth being ignored, as they often are, but history shows us that isn’t inevitable. As recently as 1970, the voting age in the US was 21, in spite of decades of struggle to enfranchise younger voters. But in 1964, the US began drafting men as young as 18 to serve in the Vietnam War. This conscription without representation helped drive massive (and sometimes violent) opposition to the war effort, along with ever-louder calls by the youth to have a voice in who was leading them to war in the first place. By 1971, the voting age was lowered to 18. By 1973, the US was withdrawing from a quagmire that might otherwise have persisted for many more years. 

The lesson here is simple: when the youth unite in mass collective action, they can bring about major changes, even when faced with powerful opposition. But they can do more with the support of adults, who have more institutional power and are generally taken more seriously. “Adults are able to amplify students’ messages,” says activist Alexandria Villaseñor. “What I would like to see from them is their help and their advocating for us.” So, rebels, whether you are 9 years old or 90, please join us on May 20th to help youth make history. Their future hangs in the balance.

Portland Youth Climate Strike

May 20th, 2022

11am rally at City Hall, march at noon

[Photo credit: Janet Weil, taken at Youth Climate Strike, September 2019]

Being Young Right Now Is Terrifying

Being young right now is terrifying. Being young has always been terrifying, I guess, with moving out and finding your place in this big, beautiful world.  But right now, being young means I won’t get to grow old. And yeah, that’s terrifying.  

Right now, as I am writing this, I am all too aware of the passage of time. As the seconds slip away, I feel my future slipping away with them. My siblings’ future. My friends’ future.  My students’ future. YOUR future. Because with every second we waste on inaction on the climate crisis, with every second that greenhouse gasses are pumped into the atmosphere, with every second we continue to pillage this place we call home, this planet, this soil, this ocean, this Earth, with every second we continue on this path, my future is being stolen from me.  

I am scared. I’m scared and I’m outraged and I’m confused. I don’t understand how people can be so corrupt, so greedy, so horrible. I don’t understand how our government can be complacent in killing us all. Because it is. It’s killing me, and you, and our neighbors. It’s killing marginalized peoples across this Earth. It’s killing all of the life on our Earth, in our seas, on our land, everything. We are all being murdered right now, with every goddamn second and I don’t understand how that is allowed to happen!

I don’t understand how people don’t get it. How they don’t comprehend that we needed to act yesterday, years ago, and for fuck’s sake NOW! How people miss that everything is connected and how we are screwing with the precious balance that this planet exists in.  Homeostasis, people! With an increase of temperature you get more flooding, more droughts, loss of crops and depleted farmland. And then you get rising food prices, famine, desperation, conflict, migration, and war.  

Maybe I’m just naive. Young.  Maybe I don’t know anything about human nature.  But I don’t understand, I can’t understand. They’re killing us. You’re killing us. We’re all killing each other.

It’s hard not to fall into despair most days. To feel like I’m capable of changing anything in this big, nasty place. It’s hard to find hope. But I do. I do what I can. 

We all do what we can. We call our elected officials. We vote. We march, and stand tall, and yell and pound drums. We hold signs, and we take to the digital world when the real one becomes too much. And there we find that maybe people do get it.  

Everyday on this little computer screen I hold in my hand I see faces my age and younger, who are just as outraged as me. I see people who are out there, day after day, week after week, fighting for our future. I see people risking their lives, their bodies, their educations. I see people giving speeches and writing books and making music. I see people from across the globe, those who look like me and those who don’t.  People who understand, people who comprehend, people who know.  

Sometimes, selfishly I wonder if I’m doing enough. If all these people my age and younger are making successful changes in this world, and I feel like I’m just sitting here spinning my wheels, how could I possibly be doing enough? And then I breathe, and remember: no one can fix it all, and each person can only do so much. And if what their “so much”, if your “so much,” is a little more than mine, that’s okay too.  

I am scared. Being young right now is terrifying. I am outraged. Finding hope is hard. But when I’m out there fighting, when I’m in the woods teaching, sometimes I feel that glimmer. That’s why I write, that’s why I’m here fighting.  

I’m not going to have a future. But maybe, just maybe, I could.   

Standing with Youth Climate Activists

XRPDX rebels were proud to stand with (and drive behind) thousands of youth climate activists, for the Global Climate Strike organized by Portland Youth Climate Strike, on September 24, 2021. This was the Friday chosen by the international Fridays For Future movement, and Portland, Oregon turned out one of the largest – if not THE largest – school strikes of mostly high school students in the United States.

Yellow fire truck with large banner reading "YOUTH Climate Strike" on the top.
XRPDX’s biggest prop!

The “World on Fire Truck” had been specifically requested to appear. Some of our folks made a large “YOUTH Climate Strike” banner to fly from the top of the repurposed fire truck. We were also asked to drive a few cars at the rear of the march, from the Oregon Convention Center to City Hall, to protect the marchers from vehicular traffic. We were happy to give that support, as well as march as a small contingent with our “Courage Is Contagious” banner.

Vertical banner reading "Courage Is Contagious" with Extinction Rebellion logo at bottom.
On the march!

After we crossed the river on the Steel Bridge, stopped at Oregon Department of Transportation for some vigorous “Climate Leaders Don’t Widen Freeways!” chanting, and walked the length of Broadway through Old Town and downtown (to mostly honks and cheers of support), we arrived at City Hall.

No Mayor Wheeler or City Councilmember was there to greet the thousands of fired-up young folks, angry about hypocrisy and inaction by the city government. Five empty chairs represented the elected officials. Youth spoke their minds by saying “We should be in math class, not out here on the street trying to get adults to care about our future!” One young man made the observation that Greta Thunberg is amazing, don’t want to disrespect her, but there have been and are Black and Indigenous people taking action and leading on climate – we just don’t hear about them. “We are in a Climate Emergency! No more widening freeways! ” the chant rang out.

Youth in white shirt, 5 empty chairs with names of City Council members, and large white banner with black lettering: "No System But the Ecosystem"
Where were the elected officials??

Every Friday at Cleveland High School the strike for climate continues.

Hope. It’s a beautiful thing.

It’s been a long year and a half, on that I think we can all agree.

As an educator, this last school year was one of the toughest of my life. Online teaching left me drained and burnt out, and I had to watch as my students struggled and fell behind with little I could do. The joy of teaching seemed sucked out of my life, and that spark that I see in my students so often as they experience the out of doors for the first time, hold a rough skinned newt, or get to put their hands in mud was gone. Work wasn’t fun anymore.  It was draining, frustrating, and headache inducing.  On one occasion, I watched one of my sixth graders throw their laptop out their window and I couldn’t do anything but watch.  I didn’t blame them, throwing my laptop seemed fairly reasonable come June.

This summer, I have been fortunate enough to be able to work in person with high schoolers at a leadership institute run by my school district. And of course, it wasn’t the same.  Hiking trails and teaching in masks hides the smiles of my students.  We couldn’t hug, or high five, or play any contact games. 

At the start of each week, students were scared to talk to, and sometimes even look at, each other.  Often, it felt like I was still on zoom, but instead of blank boxes, I was receiving blank stares. But the wonder remained.  The curiosity remained.  The vigor remained. 

We worked through hard topics: microaggressions, cultural differences, personal identity, and trust to name a few.  I got to watch my students blossom over the course of just four days.  I witnessed them learn to talk to people again.  Make friendships, laugh, and grow.  The sun filtering through the trees above, the air filled with joyful shouts, I felt something I haven’t felt in a long while.  And as we walked through the old growth in Oxbow Park, seeing the wonder in my students’ eyes, I realized what it was. I was filled with hope again. 

Hope. It’s a beautiful thing, which I, and many others have been lacking this past year.  Never ending screen time sucks the life out of all of us.  No human interaction makes it worse.  We aren’t back to normal, and I don’t know if we ever will be. 

But kids will always be kids.  They will always be able to learn and grow.  They are our future, and they give me hope. With these kids as our future leaders, I have hope for our future again.