In this episode, we'll get into the weeds of anti-freeway activism.
You may have heard the story of how Portlanders successfully turned back the Mt. Hood Freeway plan and removed a major downtown highway in the 1970s. About 40 years later, activist rallied again to fight the Columbia River Crossing, a plan to widen I-5 between Portland and Vancouver.
The latest fight is being waged against the I-5 Rose Quarter project — right in Portland's backyard. Despite a state that is literally on fire due to climate change, and the fact that the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon comes from transportation, the Oregon Department of Transportation wants to add lanes to I-5 between Interstate 84 and the Fremont Bridge.
But standing between ODOT and their $800 million project is a plucky, all-volunteer nonprofit named No More Freeways.
In this episode, I interview one of their leaders, a 33-year-old community organizer named Aaron Brown. He's spent four years building an opposition campaign against ODOT's project that includes thousands of followers, hundreds of donors, three lawsuits, and a lot of snarky tweets.
We talked about how he became the face of the freeway fight, why he doesn't trust ODOT, what it will take to stop building freeways, how he's navigated racial tensions around his activism, and more.