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Vancouver woman turns to activism

You’re more likely to find her quilting, reading or working in her garden. But in early December, Vancouver resident Lynn Osborn will be off to Washington, D.C., to grab a placard and protest alongside actor and activist Jane Fonda.

Osborn, a retired school teacher, said her political activism has been limited to supporting local candidates and working to reduce class sizes in public schools — until now.

A warming world has prompted her to change that.

“I think climate change is an existential crisis for our population,” said Osborn, who will march Dec. 6 in the Capitol, participating in a “Fire Drill Friday” protest, one of some 20 events Fonda is conducting to sound alarm bells about climate change.

“I’m so concerned about the condition of the world my children are going to be facing,” said Osborn, 69, who moved to Clark County three years ago from a Minneapolis suburb. Joining her will be two other women from Minnesota, a 67-year-old grandmother and a great-grandmother in her 80s.

Referencing the declaration by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg that “our house is on fire,” Fonda began her civil disobedience drills Oct. 11, announcing she would hold one every Friday morning for four months, the time she has off from filming her hit television show “Grace and Frankie.”

Three times Fonda, 81, has been arrested, taken away in handcuffs by Capitol Police, while calling on lawmakers to support the Green New Deal and to halt deforestation, mining on indigenous lands and subsidies for industrial agriculture.

The second Friday of protests, actor Sam Waterston, 78, was also arrested; actor Ted Danson, 71, was arrested the third Friday.

Osborn, a mother of three daughters and a grandmother of six children — ranging from 10 months to 5 years old — said she doesn’t expect to be arrested. Her friend, Kitty Westin, who invited her to participate, said the Capitol Police will ask a protester three times to cease and desist. “If they have to ask you a fourth time …”

Westin is Osborn’s connection to Fonda.

A psychologist and nationally recognized speaker on eating disorders, Westin established a foundation following the death of her daughter from anorexia in 2000. Westin and Fonda, who has spoken openly about her struggle with bulimia, know one another from their shared interest in mental health.

Westin said she has decided she will let herself be arrested. “I’ve never been arrested before but the inconvenience of being arrested will be nothing like the inconvenience my grandchildren will have if they don’t have clean air and clean water,” she said.

Fonda’s acting career stretches to the 1960s and her political activism almost as early.

In 1972, while protesting U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, Fonda earned the pejorative nickname “Hanoi Jane” for sitting atop a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun.

Osborn didn’t — and doesn’t — approve of the method by which Fonda protested then, by going to Hanoi.

“I’m joining Jane Fonda’s Climate Change demonstration despite disagreeing with her political stance during the Vietnam War. After all, that was 40 years ago, and she has admitted her mistake and apologized. Everyone deserves forgiveness.”

More importantly, Osborn said, the protest is not to call attention to any single individual.

“The causes of climate change and environmental protection — encouraging our legislators to take action to limit and mitigate their effects, to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, and to show leadership in the world — are causes we can all believe in and support.”

The drills have been fairly small, drawing a few dozen activists. The first Friday event ended with 16 arrests. Most recently 32 people were arrested, according to various news outlets.


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