Above: my view out the bathroom window in Pine Hollow, Oregon, earlier this week
Well, we’re back from our whirlwind road trip–but I didn’t exactly count on this being my first blog post upon returning! A recap of photos of me tossing my 3-year-old niece into the water, or posing on a paddleboard? That’s more of what I was envisioning. Definitely not this. But it’s 2020, after all–and here we are.
If you missed it, we road tripped to Oregon to spend a week with my immediate family at my childhood lake house in the tiny town of Pine Hollow, OR. (We don’t own the house anymore, but it’s been rehabbed and we found it for rent on VRBO!)
For weeks we crossed our fingers for hot, sunny weather, but what we DIDN’T count on was wildfire season. (Ironic, as we got married in Portland the exact same week three years ago and had our whole wedding upended by wildfires. You think we’d learn!)
An Apocalyptic Glimpse of Oregon Right Now and How You Can Help
As you can probably imagine from seeing the first picture of this post–we didn’t exactly get to spend the vacation on the beach. Instead, we locked ourselves inside for 5 days straight because the smoke was so bad. To give you an idea, the Air Quality Index goes from 0-500, (300 being the start of “hazardous air”) and many areas of Oregon were measuring ABOVE 500. We were incredibly fortunate that we were not geographically near any of the current fires (more on how to help those who are later in this post–my heart goes out to them), aside from the air quality, we were at least safe.
Despite the apocalyptic climate, I’m still so glad we went. I hadn’t seen my family in 9 months, we still made it fun. And I’m grateful we had so much family time. In a weird way, I’m also thankful I was there during this time to witness firsthand what things are like, document them, and share them with you. This will definitely be one of the many “memorable chapters” of 2020.
I woke up from a nap our last day there around 6pm, walked into the bathroom, and noticed the view out the window. It looked like we were living on Mars. (See photo above). I grabbed my camera and dashed out the door, and this is what I saw. Note, these photos are completely unretouched. I did not edit them whatsoever–what you see is what it actually looked like. (Don’t worry, I wasn’t out there for very long).
How you can help: VOTE
(Shocking, I know–it seems to be the answer to everything lately.)
This is not the home state I know and love. I can’t tell you how many weekends I spent in this house growing up. And not once we did we have to worry about wildfires. I hope that this is proof that climate change is very much real. Millions of lives are at stake, and the #1 thing you can do to help–is vote.
As you likely know by now, the current administration refuses to acknowledge the severity of climate change and has rolled back so much of the progress that had been made in the right direction. In fact, the Brookings Institute counted 74 actions to date taken by the Trump administration to weaken environmental protection. On the other hand, Biden has a very solid plan to tackle climate change, and you can read more about that on his website here.
I know politics can be overwhelming, and I know it’s easier to just check out. But these photos are proof of the dire situation we are in. And the good news is that the most effective change we can make is through policy–and it requires very little effort on our end. We just have to show up and elect the right people!
This is also a SCREAMING reminder for the people in the back that if you posted a Black Square on Instagram in June–you better be voting in November. Because climate change disproportionately affects communities of color.
2020 voting deadlines are coming up!
Marie Claire put together a very to-the-point roundup of voting deadlines per state, so I’m copying and pasting them here. Click your state to see more details. Deadlines are coming up (EARLY OCTOBER). So make sure (and triple check!) that you are registered and that you make a plan to vote as early as possible!
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia,
Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan,
Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.
How you can help: DONATE
If you are able to donate monetarily to help with wildfire relief, this article rounds up many different ways to do so.
The cliff notes version: You can text Text “WILDFIRES” to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the Red Cross, or head to GoFundMe’s centralized hub for verified US fire relief funds.
How you can help: SHARE
Please share this post to raise as much awareness as possible. And hopefully motivate those who are on the fence about voting in November!
For even more on what you can do to help climate change, read this post: Climate Change + Approachable Ways to Make a Difference.
On a lighter note–expect an uplifting post tomorrow! It’s good to be back. I’ve missed you!