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Community Meeting to Stop Coal Exports, 4/18/12


As you are likely aware, Portland is on the verge of becoming a gateway for coal export.

There are six proposed coal export terminals in Oregon and Washington with the capacity to export many times more coal than we currently burn. The coal would come from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming and the Oregon Department of State Lands could approve the first proposal in the next two months! There is even a proposal to bring dirty coal trains through the communities of NE Portland.

Please join Portland Rising Tide at a meeting on Wednesday, April 18th at 7pm at St. Francis Church 1131 Southeast Oak Street, Portland to begin to build alliances and strategize to create a loud, unified, community-based voice against coal.

We recognize that coal is an environmental as well as a social justice issue. Communities that are most impacted by fossil fuel infrastructure are often those with the fewest resources to mitigate these impacts. As a community, Portland has a unique opportunity to influence the future of fossil fuel use in the country and the world. Since the United States has the largest supply of coal on the planet, victories over coal here will echo globally.

Please spread this message to any individuals or grassroots groups that you think may be interested. Hope to see you there!

For climate justice,
Portland Rising Tide


More on our organizing approach:

We do not believe that the dominant, business-friendly means of addressing climate change will have any significant impact preventing catastrophic global warming. Power hungry politicians, communities disconnected from each other and the planet, and an economics based on making money and careless consumption are fundamentally at odds with the concept of environmental sustainability. Work against the coal export terminals can demonstrate what it looks like to organize locally, promote community-based solutions to the climate crisis and take direct action to confront the root causes of climate change.

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#F29 Report Back, 4/2/2012

Here is a report back of f29 from Portland Action Lab:

Today Portlanders joined over seventy cities across the nation to target corporations and legislators involved in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Portland’s march – which included nearly 200 yellow “ALEC Exposed” umbrellas, many colorful banners and a 50 foot anti-corporate wave – visited offices of many ALEC members, including ExxonMobil, McDonalds, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Verizon, FedEx, Taco Bell, Walgreens, Shell, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America. Responding to a national call from Occupy Portland, this is the Occupy Movement’s largest coordinated action this year, confronting ALEC corporations in the cities in which they do business throughout the nation.

Umbrella choreography – we see you, ALEC!

“We took action today to challenge ALEC, a group made up of the world’s largest corporations, as well as many state and federal politicians. ALEC writes legislation focused on amassing more profit for the wealthiest 1% at the expense of our communities,” said Nicholas Caleb of Occupy Portland.

The final action of the day was an occupation of the law offices of Lindsay, Hart, Neil & Weigler and Paul S. Cosgrove. Cosgrove is the state corporate co-chair for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Activists with the Animal Defense League made their way to the 34th floor of the Wells Fargo Center, chaining themselves together in Cosgrove’s office. Three members of the group were arrested.

“Paul S. Cosgrove, Oregon state corporate co-chair of ALEC, facilitates the creation of laws that systematically abuse animals trapped on factory farms, caged in laboratories and surviving in the wild,” says Courtney Eastman of Animal Defense League.

While the sit-in occurred on the 34th floor, members of We are Oregon and the Portland Central American Solidarity committee rallied against Wells Fargo’s lead role in home foreclosures and prison privatization.

Condemning Wells Fargo for predatory lending and home foreclosures

Wells Fargo more than quadrupled its annual spending on lobbying since the Great Recession began. I can tell you that money isn’t going to help struggling homeowners,” said Arelys Thompson, a member of We Are Oregon, which organized the assembled marches in a phone-in flash mob to Wells Fargo’s offices.

Nationally, actions against ALEC corporate members ranged from sit-ins and pickets to street theater. Some of the more creative actions included foreclosing on Citibank in Long Island, a “Corporate Debutant Ball” in Salt Lake City, UT, teach-ins in Norman, OK, Naples, FL, and Bryant Park, NY, and an Ice Cream Bloc in Oakland, CA. Three distribution centers of Wal-Mart were shut down in southern California, as well as the World Corporate Headquarters of Pfizer in Connecticut.

Portlanders gathered at 11:30 AM at SW Naito and Ankeny and marched between stops at nonviolent actions organized by some 15 social justice, environmental, and anti-capitalist groups. Many long-standing community groups, working under the banner “Portland Action Lab,” assisted in organizing the day, including Rising Tide, the Animal Defense League, We Are Oregon, Jobs with Justice, the Portland Central American Solidarity Committee.

Front of the march

ALEC is comprised of state and federal government legislators and many of America’s biggest corporations. In ALEC task-forces and committees, lobbyists work directly with legislators to draft and advance cookie-cutter “model” bills. According to ALEC’s figures, nearly 10% of state laws originate from their efforts. Wisconsin Act 10, attacking public employee unions, mirrors ALEC’s anti-union agenda and was introduced by Governor Scott Walker, an ALEC member from 1993-2002. Arizona’s widely criticized anti-immigrant legislation (SB1070) also has roots in ALEC model legislation.

 “The decisions affecting our communities should be made democratically, not through a corrupt system that hides the influence of the very corporations that benefit at our expense. ALEC is representative of a failed system in which profit and greed are dominant over everything else,” said Kari Koch of Portland Action Lab.

How to Use the Mainstream Media to Tell Radical Stories: A Workshop– 3/10/12

Where: St. Francis of Assisi Church, 1131 SE Oak, Portland OR
When: March 10th, 2-4pm
Cost: Free! Donations happily accepted

This workshop will go over how to communicate effectively with the mainstream media. Though beholden to the corporations that control them, they can still be vehicles for kick ass radical messages!

We will discuss press announcements, press releases, making pitch calls, framing, strategic messaging and how to otherwise use story strategically in the context of your campaigns and with the mainstream media. Seasoned activists will discuss their recent work organizing mass actions in which the mainstream media carried some of the radical messages of the Occupy Movement.

This is a joint workshop offered by Rising Tide, the Portland Central American Solidarity Committee and the Occupy Portland PR committee!

RSVP on Facebook:

2/29 Shut Down the Corporations Day of Action, Climate Justice Bloc

2/29: F29 Shut Down the Corporations day of action! Rising Tide Climate Justice Bloc

What: March to challenge ALEC and corporate power, Climate Justice Bloc
When: Feb. 29th, 11am to 5pm
Where: Meet under the Burnside bridge on the West side at 11am, look for the huge wave!

Occupy Portland calls for a national day of non-violent civil disobedience targeting corporations who are members of ALEC, one of the most successful mechanisms that the 1% uses to control legislation. We are asking people around the country to choose members of ALEC in their home towns and SHUT DOWN BUSINESS AS USUAL.

Portland Rising Tide will be putting together a Climate Justice Bloc to call attention to ALEC’s role in propelling us further into climate chaos while stalling efforts to help slow climate change. ALEC is a friend to energy companies, corporate polluters, factory farms and their political allies. Among many other climate crimes, ALEC has helped to: Forbid local governments from limiting pesticide use, streamlined siting for nuclear and other power plants and prohibited local efforts to oppose genetically modified (GMO) crops.  Join us for this huge national day of action!

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Coal Export Teach-in and Action Report Back

                Portland, Ore.   Following a lively teach-in, three activists with Cascade Climate Network and Portland Rising Tide occupied a billboard at the corner of SE 12th and Sandy Blvd. Sunday, February 19th to protest proposals for coal export terminals across the Northwest.  The activists altered the billboard with a giant banner that listed five potential coal export sites along the Oregon and Washington coast, while around forty protestors gathered below and spelled “no coal exports” with oversized letters. Those  not holding signs kept the vibe high with a spontaneous dance party on the sidewalk. Portland police made an appearance, but were struck dumb with awe by the glory of the banner as well as the skill and enormous power of action participants. They quickly vacated the premises.
                 Coal corporations including Peabody and Arch Energy are seeking to export up to 100 million tons of coal annually from six separate sites in Oregon and Washington.  Last month, with minimal public input, the Port of St Helens approved an option to lease the port to coal companies Ambre Energy and Kinder Morgan.  This comes nearly a year after Millenium Bulk Logistics temporarily withdrew an application to export coal from Longview Washington after internal documents revealed inconsistent figures regarding the intended volume of coal for export.
      “Big coal knowingly poisons our land, water and communities for the sake of their bottom line.  Coal is the biggest contributor to global climate change, and as we teeter on the threshold of climate chaos we must reject all coal infrastructure,” said Chelsea Thaw, an activist with Cascade Climate Network.
This event was part of a regional day of coordinated action against Northwest Coal Exports.  Actions occurred across Oregon and Washington near sites of proposed export and in Montana near the coal fields of the Powder River Basin.   Portland Rising Tide has staged numerous protests against coal export throughout the past year including several at coal financing banks.
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2/19 Occupy and Coal Exports Teach-In

Occupy, Climate Justice and Coal Export Terminals in the NW
RSVP on facebook!

Sunday, February 19, 2012
2:00pm until 4:00pm
Basement Room, St Francis of Assisi
1131 Southeast Oak Street, Portland, OR

The Occupy Movement has not often engaged environmental destruction, climate change, or other related issues. How can we infuse the economically-dominated messaging of Occupy with an environmental perspective? This conversation will be grounded in a discussion of climate justice, the work of Portland Rising Tide and coal in the Pacific Northwest as an example of the destructive practices occurring in our region.

Join us to find out how the world’s dirtiest fuel is traveling through our backyard and strategize how we can stop coal in its tracks and keep it in the ground!



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A Report Back from Rising Tide’s Theatre of the Oppressed workshop, 1/20/2012

 As we learned from Teryani, our talented facilitator, Brazilian theater activist, Augusto Boal, created Theater of the Oppressed (T.O.) in the 1960’s out of a belief that “we can make this world a place where we can be happy in rather than just a vast market place in which we sell our goods and our souls.”

The workshop, which Portland Rising Tide organized and hosted on Sunday, January 8th, brought together about 35 folks for a 4-hour exploration of group social dynamics and our place within them. These types of explorations of course have intrinsic value…but what made the day really special was the amount of fun and illumination T.O. brought to the task. Just to be clear, this wasn’t a get-together exploring Rising Tide’s group dynamics. Rather this was an open workshop for everyone, teaching a broad range and diverse range of tools known collectively as Theater of the Oppressed: group activities examining (often invisible) social structures through the lens of theater and interactive games.

We started with some new and interesting ways of doing group introductions and getting familiar with everyone’s name, my favorite being a game where everyone stood in a big circle and someone in the middle had to call out someone else’s name 3 times in rapid succession before the person being called out said their own name once. If the person being called on failed to do so, they’d be tossed in the middle themselves. Simple enough, but it was a much more fun way to get to know everyone’s name and loosen things up than the usual: pretending we all memorized 30 names in a row from a huge group go-around.

We did about six T.O. “games” in all so I’m only going to cover two of my favorites here. I really loved the exercise called “Complete the Image.” In this one we set up a frozen pantomime scene and then took turns, one at a time, removing ourselves from our frozen poses and “evolving” the scene in some way that felt compelling, or that we felt progressed the “story” in some way – all with no verbalization of exactly where the little play we were acting out was headed. It’s hard to describe in words, but it was really remarkable seeing this group story telling exercise: how we respond to and inspire each other, how some people add depth, others add breadth, and still others add direction to a communal narrative.

The most interesting game for me called “Carnival of Rio.” In this one we teamed up in groups of 3 and spent a moment strategizing for the most compelling sequence of sound and motion we could think. We then brought it back to the whole group with a goal (which all of the many groups of 3 shared!) of convincing the entire group to get on the same page with us. At the same time, we were encouraged to strive toward some sort of group consensus, to try out each others sound/motions if we felt moved to do so, and gravitate to the one(s) we found most compelling. By the end of the exercise, some sound/motions had died out, a few had grown to a dozen or more adherents and still others ebbed and flowed in numbers.

Besides being a ton of fun, the game made for fertile ground for a very “real” – and at times very personal – conversation about peer pressure, conformity, feelings of uncertainty and even abandonment, how we are effected by physical contact in group interactions, and when and how to compromise in the context of group settings. It may sound hard to believe that a bunch of people sighing in a hug amoeba or croaking like frogs while doing squats would have inspired such a serious conversation, but there it was, and this was really the magic of Theater of the Oppressed.

I wanted to thank Teryani immensely for the work she did. Her website about her Theater of the Oppressed work – where you can find out more about T.O. and also about booking Teryani’s trainings is

Friend Portland Rising Tide on Facebook or get on our email list for updates on future workshops of all sorts.

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One Arrested at Anti-Coal Zombie March Targeting Bank of America

Portland Rising Tide, a direct action environmental group confronting the root causes of climate change resurrected the first ever undead zombie army against coal. On Monday October 31st, the zombie army against coal marched from Occupy Portland at 3:00 PM to two Bank of America branches in downtown Portland. One protestor, Tim Swenson, was arrested in the protest for allegedly putting red corn syrup on the exterior of the Bank of America on 2nd and Morrison.

Twenty police officers in partial riot gear arrived at the Bank of America as the protestors were leaving. Police grabbed Swenson as the protestors were leaving the site.

A spokes-zombie for Portland Rising Tide, David Osborn, stated, “The connections between Bank of America, coal and climate change are too strong to ignore and too devastating to our future to not act against. We call for the immediate release of Tim Swenson and for Bank of America, the true criminal, to be held to account for its actions.”

Currently, the cities of Longview and Cherry Point, Washington, are facing proposals to export up to 140 million tons of coal annually. Six other ports across the Northwest are in talks with coal export companies. If constructed, the export terminals will bring up to 26 mile-long trains through the Columbia River gorge, releasing 500 pounds of coal dust per car.  Bank of America is the highest lender to coal companies across the nation. Portland Rising Tide will continue to oppose any coal export terminals in the Northwest and other destructive fossil fuel projects.

High resolution photos available here:

Bank of America Dance Off

Protesters from Occupy Portland and Portland Rising Tide confront Bank of America with a dance off in the lobby of their corporate office tower in downtown Portland.

A march left Occupy Portland Monday afternoon and headed for the Bank of America tower and financial building which houses corporate offices of this thieving corporation. Thirty five protesters entered the building and kicked off a rowdy dance party in the lobby, playing on bucket drums and rhythm sticks. The Bank of America branch immediately locked its doors, preventing protesters from bringing the dance party inside

As this debauchery disrupted business as usual in the tower lobby and the bank branch and mortgage center, a small group of individuals took the elevator to the seventeenth floor to deliver letters and speak with corporate employees, demanding that Bank of America cease and desist its funding of coal mining across the country and coal export projects in the northwest. Copies of the letter were also taped all over on the bottom floor of the building, and educational fliers handed out to passers-by and bank customers, urging them to mover their money to local credit unions.

Climate activists have been targeting Bank of America branches over the past year in Portland and beyond for the company’s financing of coal. Proposed coal export terminals threaten the Northwest in Longview and Bellingham, Wahington, as well as St. Helens and Coos Bay, Oregon. These terminals seek to export up to 80 million tons of domestic coal annually to growing Asian markets, in stark contrast to the recent achievements Oregonians have made in moving away from dirty coal fired power plants. While Bank of America gets the profits off of their investment in the world’s most dirty energy source, the rest of the world gets the devastating side effects such as natural disasters fueled by climate change, health problems from living near coal plants, rail-lines or export facilities, and forced removal from our homes and land to allow for coal mining.

Activists said they would keep coming back as long as Bank of America continues to finance coal and profit off of the destruction of our health, climate, and communities.

Occupy into Action

Portland Rising Tide’s response to the Occupy movement, Occupy into Action, was a three-part mini action camp held today at Occupy Portland. Rising Tide facilitated Power and Privilege, Strategic Campaign Planning and Nonviolent Direct Action trainings, each attended by about 30 people.

The first workshop, facilitated by Rising Tide’s Isobel and Trip used multiple activities to depict how privilege, a merit given, not earned, impacts access to power. The group also addressed the individual privileges they did or did not have and then went into small breakouts for discussion.

Strategic Campaign Planning is a must-see for all organizers. Kim Marx of Rising Tide North America (and Portland when we are lucky enough to have her!) facilitated this workshop designed to help groups find their goals, use appropriate tactics to achieve them and most importantly, avoid activist burnout. Doing actions that do not support your end goal is the number one reason for burnout, according to Kim, she encourages groups to educate themselves thoroughly about their issue and choose appropriate goals and reevaluate often.

Jasmine and recent Portland Rising Tide convert, Abigail, co-facilitated a 3-hour Nonviolent Direct Action Training for interested Occupy Portland participants. The workshop gave people an opportunity to explore the roles of direct action in popular social and environment movements, learn about the affinity group model, roles often needed during direct actions, how to de-escalate situations through verbal and nonverbal communication, a bit about legal and lastly, summed it all up with a rad mock direct action!

In the spirit of action camps, there is an action planned for Monday, October 17th in downtown Portland. Stay tuned!

Did you miss the fun? Rising Tide is hosting another Occupy into Action mini action camp on October, 29th at Occupy Portland. Check the website and Facebook (friend page) for details!

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