Discussion Questions and Further Reading

Discussion Questions

  • In “Burn Down Valley,” Theo Whitcomb explores how one community fundamentally reconfigured its relationship to both fire and land. What is your relationship with the land in your community? Is fire an aspect of your local ecology? Are you aware of efforts to more thoughtfully steward natural elements in your area? Do you see reasons for optimism in those changing relationships with nature?

  • In “Getting to the Roots of Climate Change,” Bob Devine argues that in order to mitigate the climate crisis, we need to “use our values and judgement to consciously guide the economy.” He emphasizes the importance of making educated consumer choices that account for hidden ecological costs, applying political pressure to elected officials, supporting collective action in the form of legislation, and challenging widespread hostility toward government. How do you use your values to lead the economy? Do you employ the tactics Devine proposes? How successful do you feel those tactics are? With regard to climate action, is your focus on regulating individual behavior, transforming systems through collective action, or some combination of both?

  • “Sagebrush Solar” explores how people in Lake County in Southern Oregon have sought to lower their community’s economic dependence on extractive industries and grow their renewable energy sources, all while managing the competing interests of farmers, loggers, restoration stewards, and outside agencies. How does the article make you think about similar issues in your area or around Oregon? How does it speak to the broader conversation on division and polarization in Oregon? Was there anything that surprised you in this story or challenged you to think differently about a certain group or population?

  • “The Bottom of the Toolbox” features two differing types of climate action: the highly visible “die-in” protests acted out by local environmental justice groups; and the quieter, less “sexy” municipal power enacted by experts and city officials. How does the situation in Eugene impact your ideas about climate action in general, and about the roles of individual citizens versus local jurisdictions? 

  • In “Beyond Capacity,” Paul Susi engages the idea of collective responsibility in relation to the overlapping crises of housing, race, and climate. What does collective responsibility look like in your neighborhood, community, or city? Who is demonstrating it, and how? Do you feel a sense of collective responsibility, and if so, towards what?

  • In “Putting in the Work,” Jonathan Hill describes ways to stay engaged in politics and activism outside of major election cycles. How do you engage with politics at any level, local or national? How often do you vote, contact elected officials, or attend meetings or demonstrations? Do you feel like you are more or less engaged than you want to be? Do you have reservations or fears about taking action in support of your beliefs?

  • In “One-Person Protest,” Rozzell Medina writes that the Humanity in Perspective class created individual protests “to demonstrate our care and concern for a variety of issues that felt urgent to us.” What issues feel urgent to you? What cause or need would move you to protest, on your own or with others?



Further Reading

“Burn Down Valley”

Lomakatsi Restoration Project

Earth on Fire” by Christine Dupres, Melissa Lewis, and Jessy Damon. Oregon Humanities, 2017

With wildfires on the rise, indigenous fire management is poised to make a comeback” by Yvette Cabrera. Grist, 2020.

Robert Boyd, ed., Indians, Fire, and the Land in the Pacific Northwest (OSU Press, 1999, 2nd ed. 2021)


“Getting to the Roots of Climate Change”

Ann Pettifor, The Case for the Green New Deal. (Verso, 2019)

Bob Devine, The Sustainable Economy: The Hidden Costs of Climate Change and the Path to a Prosperous Future. (Anchor, 2020)

Noah Chomsky and Robert Pollin, Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal. (Penguin Random House, 2020)


“Sagebrush Solar”

Lake County Resources Initiative

Filling the Void” by Nick Cunningham. Oregon Business, 2020.

National Climate Assessment on Agriculture and Rural Communities (2018).

Radically Rural: Rural Voices Vital Part of Solving Climate Crisis” by Caroline Tremblay. The Daily Yonder, 2020. 


“The Bottom of the Toolbox”

Donella H. Meadows [and others]. The Limits to Growth; a Report for the Club of Rome's Project on the Predicament of Mankind. (Universe Books, 1972)

Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. (Viking, 2005)

Open Letter Urging Eugene City Council to Take Action on NW Natural’s Polluting Infrastructure, Breach Collective, 2021.


“Beyond Capacity”

On public responses to homelessness in the Portland area:

On the roots of anti-Asian violence in Oregon:

Taking action: Donate to, support, or seek help from the following organizations

More about Paul Susi


“Putting in the Work”

This comic was commissioned by Oregon Humanities as part of a series of comics on democracy and civic engagement funded by the “Why it Matters: Civic and Electoral Participation” initiative, administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils and funded by Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The other comics in the series are available at oregonhumanities.org:


“One-Person Protest”

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous Person’s History of the United States. (Beacon Press, 2015)

Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin Jr., Black Against Empire. (University of California Press, 2016)

Crip Camp. Directed by Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht, 2020.

Mossville: When Great Trees Fall. Directed by Alexander Glustrom, produced by Michelle Lanier, Daniel Bennett, Katie Mathews, Catherine Rierson, and Lyntoria Newton, 2019.

Black Panthers. Directed by Agnés Varda, 1968.


Oregon Humanities Magazine


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Also in this Issue

From the Director: Old Jokes


Burn Down Valley

Getting to the Roots of Climate Change

Sagebrush Solar

The Bottom of the Toolbox

Beyond Capacity

Putting in the Work

One-Person Protest


People, Places, Things

Discussion Questions and Further Reading