Goal

To create a world-class climate change institute in Portland’s Washington Park that will create thousands of jobs; become a global center for science, education, and advocacy; and bring millions of tourists to Oregon.    

Proposed

  • World-class destination center for climate change science and advocacy in Washington Park: 
    • +1,000 direct jobs 
    • 2,000+ tourism jobs
    • +1M new visitors annually for Oregon.
  • Proposed Content:
    • Two wings:  one for climate problems, one for climate solutions
    • Focus on more than science, but also politics, economics, and sociology of climate change challenges and solutions.
    • Central dome/site to be advocacy center and global climate monitoring.
    • Multi-layer underground parking to reduce parking and access challenges.
    • Event meeting space to allow for hosting events (private, public) for additional self-sustaining income.
  • Consistent with Portland Metro values and interests in solutions to climate change.
  • Privately funded, non-profit led – little to no public funding required beyond issuing a charter and providing the same $1/year lease incentive as current lease holder.
  • Target $1B in private philanthropy fundraising for construction of a major global center.

How:

  • Re-open Washington Park master plan to address a new opportunity for global climate change leadership.  Answer the question of whether this can be done.
  • Terminate the lease of the World Forestry Center, a forestry industry center that does not address climate change and is subsidized by Portland citizens with a lease that charges just $1/year for the last 50 years for the best land in Portland. Why care?
    • The wrong message.  The World Forestry Center does not address climate change despite an original charter and lease terms mandating environmental sustainability.
    • Industry insiders.  Its board has no environmental advocacy representatives, just industry representative and allies.
    • Wrong content. Exhibits do not focus on the existential challenge of climate change or forestry’s critical role as a potential solution.   
    • Unsuccessful.  Just 22,000 visitors per year visited per-Covid whereas the Oregon Zoo had 1.5M+ visitors at the same time.  Both sites share the same parking lot.  The truth is most Portlanders and visitors do not want to go to the Forestry Center in its current form.
  • Conduct public referendum to validate what Portland voters prefer.
  • Create master plan to consolidate space from two sites into one:
    • Empty building (former Children’s Museum) destined to be a parking lot.
    • Forestry center currently in place.
  • Issue public charter to a new Climate Future Institute entity representing a coalition of Portland environmental nonprofits.
  • Approve new entity to begin raising funds.
  • Provide funding to relocate existing forestry center to a community that will welcome and appreciate it and for which it will create jobs.  It’s not a fit for Portland, but it is for someplace.  We should pay for that move.

Notes:

This is a very specific idea for Portland and is in addition to, not intended as a replacement for, broader and more aggressive national and local climate policy goals to dramatically reduce emissions of green house gases and accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon future. Proposing a Climate Future Institute is not intended as a wide-ranging policy platform on climate change – there are many of these already in progress and our campaign supports them. But we believe a Climate Future Institute could directly impact all of those larger efforts and would be a smart investment for the Portland metro, an inspiration and education site for future generations, and an accelerator for advocacy both locally and globally.

Like this idea?  Show your support for a Climate Future Institute in Portland: