Who We Are
Southern Oregon Climate Action Now (SOCAN) is an all-volunteer grassroots, 501(C)(3) non-profit organization of over 1,500 Southern Oregonians and friends who are concerned about the climate crisis; we are concerned about climate change consequences and ocean acidification that both result from emissions of greenhouse gases. We collaborate to address these problems.
The mission of Southern Oregon Climate Action Now (SOCAN) is to promote awareness and understanding about the science, causes, and consequences of climate change. We work with individuals and organizations in Southern Oregon, statewide, nationally, and internationally to advocate for both personal and governmental actions that reduce the emissions and atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases. Within this framework, we are committed to supporting climate solutions that address the social injustices that have undermined vulnerable communities for many decades and that still plague our society today.
We seek a reduction in the global atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration to 350 parts per million Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).
Southern Oregon Climate Action Now was established in 2012 by co-founders Kathy Conway and Alan Journet who relocated to Southern Oregon after retiring from Southeast Missouri State University. They were accompanied by several dozen area residents who were motivated to remedy the absence of a grassroots climate activist organization in the region. Incorporated in 2014 under bylaws that identify the Board as the organization, the SOCAN mailing list has since grown to over 2,000 recipients.
SOCAN is organized around a seven-member Board of Directors representing a diversity of backgrounds and concerns about climate and social justice. Since its establishment, SOCAN has spawned other climate-focused local groups as several of our activists elected to develop organizations with slightly different defined niches in the climate activist arena, notably Rogue Climate, Southern Oregon Citizens Climate Lobby, Rural Oregon Climate Political Action Committee, and the Ashland Climate Collaborative. The Board of Directors delegates day-to-day management to the co-founders serving as volunteer co-facilitators. These individuals are aided and supported by a Leadership Circle meeting bi-monthly that comprises leaders of SOCAN projects and other interested activists wishing to help the organization move forward in service of its mission.
SOCAN currently lists some 20 projects exhibiting varying degrees of activity, arranged under five Program Headings: Government, Education, Natural Resources, Transportation, and Community Outreach (See SOCAN wheel below). Volunteer activists become members of Project teams according to their interest and time availability/commitment. SOCAN supports individuals who wish to initiate projects that fall within the Program areas, are consistent with our Mission statement, and have at least two or three interested team members ready to launch the effort.
Throughout SOCAN’s existence, we have been heavily involved in collaboration with the statewide coalition of climate activists who work with state legislators, state agencies, and the Governor’s staff as the state itself moves forward with policies, programs, and efforts that are consistent with SOCAN’s climate mission. We also collaborate with other climate and social justice organizations regionally and across the state and nation to further our mission.
Among our most notable achievements are:
2013 SOCAN organized “It’s A Rogue Thing: Bringing Climate Concerns Home.” This was the first organized climate event in Southern Oregon; it attracted some 500 individuals.
2014 SOCAN successfully persuaded the Ashland City Council to approve a request to the Short Term Fund Board, managed by the state Treasury, and Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) that they divest taxpayer investments from fossil fuels.
2015 SOCAN organized a 2-day Climate Summit “Our Critical Climate: Rogue Basin Summit” which attracted a two-day audience of several hundred local residents and agency personnel to explore what is happening locally by way of climate change and responses to it. Keynote speakers included: Dr. Phil Mote, Director, Oregon Climate Change Research Institute; Mary Wood, Philip H. Knight Professor of Law and Faculty Director, Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program at the University of Oregon School of Law; and Catherine “Kitty” Piercy, Mayor of Eugene. We also engaged Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley who joined us to offer their comments and support along with local Oregon state legislators Senator Alan Bates and Representative Peter Buckley.
2016 SOCAN collaborated consistently with the Ashland citizen committee developing the Ashland Climate and Energy Action Plan. This was subsequently approved in 2017.
2016 SOCAN collaborated with the Southern Oregon Forest Restoration Collaborative in organizing the ‘Rogue Forests for the Future’ workshop held in Grants Pass.
2017 SOCAN Co-facilitator Alan Journet authored a climate threats Appendix (D) for the City of Medford Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan.
2017 SOCAN collaborated with several other local climate organizations to organize the “People’s Climate March – Southern Oregon” which attracted some 1400 marchers to downtown Medford.
2017 SOCAN organized and presented the first two offerings of our ten-week “Master Climate Protector – A Primer for Action” course which has now been offered 8 times (including several offerings via ZOOM during the COVID pandemic) and has graduated 120 Master Climate Protectors.
2017 SOCAN’s Voices of the Valley, a full length video documentary, was produced and released featuring interviews with local residents speaking about how climate change affects them from various points of reference, ranging from health issues to effects on local business. The interviewees included: a plant nursery owner, two young activists, Oregon Shakespeare Festival representatives, farmworkers, owners of Willow-Witt ranch, an Indigenous tribal spokesperson, and the medical director for Jackson County Health and Human Services. A visual exhibit toured Jackson County libraries quoting more than 60 valley residents, ranging in age from middle schoolers to seniors who voiced their comments on hand-written cards, most of them accompanied with a photograph, as well as life-size photos of Valley residents.
2018/2019 SOCAN continued engagement with state legislators and the statewide activist coalition urging passage of legislation establishing a meaningful comprehensive greenhouse gas emissions reduction program in the state. This included multiple advocacy excursions to Salem in support of proposals.
2019 Coastal SOCAN was established in Harbor/Brookings as a regional SOCAN project.
2020 SOCAN continued legislative engagement and then collaborated extensively with the Oregon Climate Action Plan advocates after Executive Order 20-04 was signed (in March) by Governor Brown.
2020 SOCAN adjusted its project team and public general meetings and Master Climate Protector course to a ZOOM format in deference to the COVID pandemic.
2021 SOCAN Board, with Solid Ground Consulting, completed a 3-year strategic plan “SOCAN Vision to Action” that initiated efforts to undertake an administrative transition toward a full-time employed Executive Director rather than the current all-volunteer structure
2022 SOCAN returned to involvement in public activities such as Earth Day and the July 4th Parade. Our monthly public general meeting also returned to face-to-face format.
2022 SOCAN established a Regional and Local Project that now comprises Climate Action Teams in Ashland, Grants Pass, Jacksonville, Medford, and Talent. These teams have contributed to the development of a Grants Pass Sustainability and Energy Action Plan (approved by city council) and the Medford Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Plan (under discussion). Through these and other efforts, among other activities, these teams are promoting climate action in local communities.
2022-2023 In collaboration with the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy and NOWIA Unete Center for Farmworker Advocacy, SOCAN applied for and was awarded a $38,000 grant from the Oregon Health Authority to develop and offer a course to under-served Latinx High School students that used outdoor learning to teach about the direct impacts of the climate crisis and explore individual actions to address the problem. Twenty students completed the course successfully and became Youth Climate Protectors.
2023 SOCAN’s Federal and State Team submitted 40 written comments, and delivered 20 oral comments in support of, or opposition to, 30 bills introduced during the 2023 Oregon legislative session.