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It's Your Oregon: Jim Owens

Former OEC Board of Directors member and past president, Jim Owens, is encouraged with the changes he has seen both in Oregon and at Oregon Environmental Council. He has a long history of community service, joining OEC’s Board in 1983, and remaining actively involved ever since.

Former OEC Board of Directors member and past president, Jim Owens, is encouraged with the changes he has seen both in Oregon and at Oregon Environmental Council. He has a long history of community service, joining OEC’s Board in 1983, and remaining actively involved ever since.

Jim thinks that OEC was important in the 1980's when he first joined the board, but “…now it’s essential.” There are plenty of groups working to protect the environment, but OEC’s work focuses on where and how Oregonians live, protecting people’s health by tackling the pragmatic issues impacting us most: water quality, air quality, children’s health, climate change. Jim admires OEC’s tradition of collaboration, and encourages greater partnerships with other environmentalists, the business community, and legislators. Prioritizing issues that make Oregon a better place for everyone to live will ensure that environmentalism and equity truly go hand in hand.

Citing OEC’s tradition of self-reflection, Jim points out that OEC regularly asks itself, “How are we making a difference? What is it we’re about?” The answer to those questions, he says, has caused a gravitational shift towards focusing on our personal behavior in order to protect the world we live in as opposed to simply “protecting resources.”

Achieving environmental goals takes policy directive, but also sometimes requires setting the stage so policies can take root. A recent example is Portland’s ban on plastic bags: two years ago cloth bags weren’t even all that common in grocery stores, now they’ve helped permanently shift shopping behavior.

Looking forward, Jim encourages Oregonians to continue to work for environmental progress and never let themselves be dissuaded by detractors or inevitable obstacles.

“Foremost in our mind should be the environmentalists of tomorrow,” he urges. “Our grandchildren and the children left to be born.”

 
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