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2016 Lake Oswego Story Project: 'Lola Rose reflects on life in 2050'

Editor’s Note: If you could peer into the future and read a description of your life history and your role in the community over the next 35 years, what would you hope to find? That intriguing question is the core premise of a new project created by the Lake Oswego Sustainability Network to help raise awareness about climate change and spur community action to combat it.

The network calls it the Lake Oswego Story Project, and the goal is to collect a series of short stories from Lake Oswego residents — written as memoirs from the perspective of a community member in the year 2050 — about the actions that present-day Lake Oswegans took to help combat climate change.

The Review is publishing a series of entries through the end of March. Here’s this week’s story, by Laurie N. Lee.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Laurie N. Lee is a retired attorney and writer. She lives in Lake Oswego.“Mom, why do we live in Lake Oswego? I hear about other nice cities; is ours the best?”

“Well,” Lola Rose responded, “I truly believe it is the best city in Oregon because of our community’s passion for sustainability. In 2016, when I was in school, our teachers talked about climate change and what we could do to help our environment. I learned about the city’s partnership with the Sustainability Network for important projects, including LED lighting and green building practices. Much has happened since then to set us apart from other cities.

“At that time, we were all committed to recycling our waste, and Lake Oswego was getting started with composting food waste. Over time, there were more and more things we could recycle, so now we hardly need to throw anything away. By recycling, we are helping our climate and reducing toxic landfills.

“One thing that makes your dad and me happy here is that our neighborhood is so friendly, and everyone helps each other. Lake Oswego is full of these neighborhood groups. In 2012, my grandparents moved to Tanglewood, and there were gatherings all the time.

“A few years later, people became concerned about a possible massive earthquake off our Oregon coast that would devastate the city and region, potentially within 50 years. Fortunately that has not happened yet! The city has hosted workshops and encouraged close neighbors to have meetings to plan for how to survive well ‘when the big one comes.’ Now your dad and I continue with neighborhood meetings and we have lots of emergency supplies. Our terrific neighbors have many different skills, so we’re all confident that we’ll do fine if there is disruption with our roads, utilities, and food supplies.

“So I don’t want to scare you about earthquakes. We will be safe. In fact, this evening we should go through our emergency drill again that the city designed. We all have cell phones that we can charge without electricity, so we can connect with each other and with the city emergency communications department. We have our own water tanks, and our house is earthquake-proof. And for the past 35 years, the city has done everything possible to strengthen the infrastructure and develop redundant systems so that services can be restored quickly in the event of any natural disaster.”

“That’s really a relief, Mom. So what else makes Lake Oswego livable and sustainable, and how else are we addressing climate change?”

“LO provides incentives for solar- and wind-powered energy and cars, so we don’t use dirty fuels and rely on foreign countries for our heat and power. And we don’t even have to own a car, since our inexpensive regional public and private transportation systems allow us to travel anywhere we want in the area.”

“That’s cool, Mom. I love to ride my bike, since we have so many bike paths. I can get almost anywhere! And if the roads are out, we can all ride our bikes or walk along paths to get to where we need to go.

“And did your school have its own garden like ours does? We grow organic fruits and vegetables and even chickens. Boy, they are noisy, but they’re kept behind the compost area. For lunches, we prepare and eat healthy vegetable-crust pizzas, egg dishes and other yummy food. No commercially prepared food allowed!

“And we have classes every day about sustainability and climate science, so we can continue the good work your grandparents’ generation started. We know that the climate is still a big problem globally and has led to terrorist attacks, so we’ve joined international groups to communicate with kids everywhere about healthy food, clean water supplies and climate problems. Our world is getting so small that I have friends in Africa, China and the Mideast.”

“Well,” responded Lola, “I’m proud of you and your school for taking this so seriously. Sadly, people knew a lot about climate change 50 years ago, and my grandparents were very worried because of the extreme weather in our country. But not many people believed that they and their cities played a part in creating the water shortages, pollution, devastating fires, weather extremes and disasters, along with rising water and animal extinction. It was difficult convincing people of the new reality, but my mom’s generation and my generation finally delivered the message, as we were suffering the consequences of poor stewardship of the Earth.

“Back when I was your age, we could play at the huge beaches and splash around in the ocean, and now most of the sand is covered with the rising tides. I would love to make you into a sand-mermaid and make sand castles!

“One of our important efforts is this small house we live in, as well as our landscaping. My Gramma and Pops’ house was really big and expensive to run, using a lot of power and water. They changed to all native plants and eventually eliminated the lawns. And the City of Lake Oswego expanded the number of paved pathways we could use to get to City parks to play. And then the City planted even more trees, which provide shade and clean air. They enacted higher water usage fees to discourage overwatering, which became a crisis as the summers became hotter and drier.

“I’m so glad my grandparents lived in Lake Oswego. So here we are, safe and sound, with your grandma Erin close by, in our beautiful city and lovely little home and natural garden, and our great neighbors and schools. What more could we ever want?

Laurie N. Lee is a retired attorney and writer, and she and her husband Alan have lived in Lake Oswego for most of their 28-year marriage. Their daughter, Erin, and granddaughter, Lola Rose, currently live with them in Tanglewood. For more on the Lake Oswego Story Project or to submit your own story, go to www.losn.org/story.html.