Sustainability Network hopes to generate ideas and get the community involved in the fight against climate change

ATWOODIf 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 (LOSN) 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.

“It asks people what they would like to see — what would make them proud of Lake Oswego, and what would that look like?” says LOSN member Dorothy Atwood.

According to the project guidelines, the imagined 2050 historian can be anyone — a resident, a government official or a descendant of the present-day writer. No matter who writes it or why, the intent is for the story to talk about the current and future challenges that climate change will cause for Lake Oswego and the world at large, what residents decided to do about it and the eventual result.

‘It doesn’t just have to be a 1,000-word essay,” Atwood says. “Poetry, performance art like a script or artwork would also really be welcomed to help create this vision.”

The Sustainability Network is trying to connect with as much of the community as possible to generate stories, and the project has already received support from a large number of city and community organizations.

“We’re reaching out to the Adult Community Center, to Marylhurst University, to the school district, to the library and to different groups so that anybody can write their ideas about what would make them proud of Lake Oswego in the future,” Atwood says.

The Lake Oswego Public Library is planning to promote the project as part of its long-running Lake Oswego Reads program, and will host a workshop from 1-3 p.m. on March 19 with local author Ronald Talney to help teach community members how to write in the project’s memoir style. (To reserve a spot, call 503-675-2540.)

“This works well with what the city is doing — as well as the library — as far as writing and research,” says Library Services Manager Jane Carr.

Support from the library has been enthusiastic, and even though it is not an official city event, the LO Story Project is also being referred to as “Lake Oswego Writes” in order to emphasize the connection to Lake Oswego Reads.

“Over the 10 years we’ve been doing Lake Oswego Reads, we’ve worked diligently to try new and different programs, expand participation and remain open and receptive to creative ideas and partnerships,” says Library Director Bill Baars. “‘Lake Oswego Writes’ fits perfectly with our community vision, and we are excited to see the results of this effort.”

CASTLEDuke Castle, a member of the Sustainability Network’s board of directors, says the idea for the project originated at an event hosted by the network in November 2015.

Network members distributed cards to the roughly 80 community members in attendance and asked them to write down what they wanted to see happen next in the fight against climate change.

“We got back 63 cards with 170 suggestions,” says Castle. “So we said, ‘What could happen with these cards to bring the community together?’ And out of that came the LO Story Project.”

LOSN members have contacted local organizations and businesses such as Marylhurst University and the Mary’s Woods senior living community to help spread the word. They’ve also reached out to multiple local authors and government officials, including state Rep. Ann Lininger.

The final deadline to submit stories for the project is March 31. Stories can be submitted at any time to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and suggestions from the November meeting are posted on the group’s website ( for writers seeking story ideas.

Castle and Atwood say they don’t want to inadvertently discourage anyone from entering, so they emphasize that the project has no winners and is not intended to be a competition.

Castle says the long-term goal of the project is to encourage the creation of a comprehensive Lake Oswego community action plan for combating climate change.

He says other communities have created similar plans, and LOSN would like to see Lake Oswego follow suit.

“This project is a way to engage the community to help us figure out what to do,” says Castle. “The network is planning an event in April, where we’ll look at what the community has told us and come up with programs for individuals and businesses to follow.”

“What we’re really trying to do is get people to think what they would like the future to look like, and use that as a motivator to spur us to action to do something,” says Atwood. “We’re hoping that this will start generating that positive buzz and interest in a collective way, not an antagonistic way. Sort of a soft call to action to get people engaged.”

Castle says one of the biggest challenges is convincing people that taking action to limit greenhouse gas emissions will lead to an increase in quality of life, rather than a decrease.

“We’d love Lake Oswego to be an example of how an upscale community can deal with this issue,” says Castle. “It’s not a sacrifice, but it takes courage to start.”

Contact Anthony Macuk at 503-636-1281 ext. 108 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Read the stories

All of the submissions to the Lake Oswego Story Project will be catalogued on the Sustainability Network’s website — — and a selection of stories will be published by the library in various community publications and venues. The Review also will publish a series of entries, beginning with the Feb. 4 issue of the newspaper.