MEDFORD, Ore. – It was an early Sunday morning for volunteers of the Southern Oregon Climate Action Network (SOCAN), who treated Medford residents to a striking new aerial view of a salmon.
“The salmon is an iconic image of the Pacific Northwest…It’s an iconic image of the Rogue Valley,” said Hannah Sohl, a volunteer with the organization and one of the organizers of the project.
The installation is part of a day-long event to rally support for climate change. Consisting of more than 1,000 tiles, it’s the culmination of roughly four-and-a-half weeks of work. Not coincidentally, it took place on the same day as a march on the National Mall in Washington D.C. to protest the controversial Keystone oil pipeline.
“We’re hoping that we can show this salmon to all of our elected leaders here in Oregon, or here in the Rogue Valley, and ask them to also move forward on climate action,” said Sohl.
One of those leaders, South Jackson County Representative Peter Buckley, even contributed a scale of his own to the giant fish.
“I’m here because I really care about the future we’re going to have here in the Rogue Valley, we’re going to have in Oregon, we’re going to have in our country, the future of the world as it is,” said Buckley.
Representative Buckley says that community events such as these are an effective way to create political progress. He also says that he sees a great deal of concern around climate change here in the Rogue Valley.
“The fact that we are known for our agricultural products, the fact that we’re known as a place of sustainable practices, I think is fantastic,” said Buckley. “It means there’s a passion here.”
As for the event’s impact, that remains to be seen, but attendees seemed hopeful.
“People want to do something. If you give the average person the opportunity to learn about something and to make a difference, I think people will come out,” said Janet Shalda, an attendee of the event.
The future of the salmon itself is uncertain. The installation was only meant to last the day, but SOCAN plans to seek sponsorship money so that they can have it transported and rebuilt in Salem and elsewhere across the state, perhaps even all the way to Washington D.C.