The Capital Press
October 3, 2003
By Mark Engler, Freelance Writer
PORTLAND — Welcome to the "Salmon Nation."
The gist of a new public relations endeavor is that, without help from mankind, no one can save the king, the sockeye, coho, pink, chum — or any other species of migratory fish in the West for that matter.
Ecotrust, a Portland-based environmental nonprofit group, is embarking on a new campaign to rally a conservation-minded coalition that will place a premium civic priority on protecting one of the region's most beloved symbols of wild nature.
By uniting "fishermen, foresters, farmers, natural resource economists, green building developers, tribal members, ecological scientists and urban consumers" from California to Alaska, Ecotrust organizers say they aim to help West Coast society transcend the political and geographic divisions that separate people and cultures, and in the process persuade the citizenry to focus energy and activism on saving the one thing they all love: fish.
Forget city limits, counties lines, urban-rural divides and international borders, we're all subjects in Mother Nature's empire, they say.
"At a time in history where the 'red' rural Republican districts are lining up against the 'blue' Democratic districts on the political map, Salmon Nation is cutting across this political divide," according to Eileen Brady, vice president of public education for Ecotrust.
Ecotrust's "Salmon Nation" basically encompasses all the habitats in North America where humans live, work and recreate — habitats that are also shared by, or linked to, salmon.
"Knowing where we live also means knowing that our natural boundaries define our identity more than our political boundaries, that the citizens of California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska are more similar than different," wrote Ecotrust's Derek Reiber in the group's Summer 2003 newsletter.
"Salmon Nation is about each one of us making the choice to live, eat and act toward a common goal of a more healthy economy, ecology and community."
On Oct. 4, starting at 10 a.m. and lasting until 5 p.m., Ecotrust is throwing a block party at its offices at 721 NW Ninth Ave. in Portland to celebrate their new awareness promotion. Events will include a wild salmon bake, storytelling, performance art, a mini-sawmill and wood market with demonstrations, rock climbing and kayaking demonstrations, an authentic dory fishing boat, the world's first biodiesel dragster and environmentalist speakers, including a "fireside chat" with former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber.
Ecotrust hopes the event will "inspire individuals to make consumer, political and other everyday decisions that enhance the health and sustainability of salmon, forests, watersheds and ultimately our communities."
Ecotrust has been busy getting their many messages out recently. The group has run insert publications in major Portland and San Francisco Bay-area newspapers tabulating the alleged evils of farm-raised salmon and imploring consumers to buck trends in corporate-driven consolidation of the agriculture industry.
During August and September Ecotrust, in coordination with 13 grocery companies — a total of about 34 stores — embarked on a campaign to convince consumers to buy only locally grown tomatoes.
They say they plan to study sales information collected by the stores to determine what affects their campaign had, and how to better target such efforts in the future.