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Bold Action is Necessary in the Fight Against
Oil-by-Rail for Featured Teacher Jan Zuckerman


“There was nothing else to do, but to actually go to the site and stop the oil trains.”

Jan Zuckerman, retired teacher, Portland-based climate activist, and member of the “Zenith Five,” was arrested in 2019 for blocking the Zenith oil trains and went to trial in 2020 using the “choice of evils” defense.


Necessity: Climate Justice & the Thin Green Line tells the story of what led her to engage in non-violent civil disobedience as a vital legal strategy in the climate justice movement. 

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"In telling the story of the Zenith trial, this film celebrates the victory of communities coming together. It bears witness to our ability to build upon each other’s strengths in spite of and in response to the destructive forces of oil trains moving through our communities. This beautiful film is a testimony to what is possible, showing how the fossil fuel industry's frenzy to feed itself has also fed our movement and determination to take the necessary steps to act.”

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Zuckerman is pictured at a “Stop Zenith” press conference in Portland, Oregon, on June 3, 2021. The “1267” label on a train is important to be aware of, watch the video to see her explain what “1267” means!

“I made a promise to my children and the youth that I work with… I am afraid for [their] future if we do not collectively take action.” 

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Jan taught in Portland Public Schools for 30 years,

and in 1995, co-founded the 

Sunnyside Environmental Middle School.

In her classroom, Jan emphasized environmental issues and climate activism. She took her students into the field once a week to create a direct correlation between what they were learning in class, and their immediate environment.


One year Zuckerman and her students went to Cathedral Park, where they were met by oil tanks and trains juxtaposed by the verdant hillside across the river. She explained it to her students as an “industrial sanctuary,” an area designated by the city of Portland as a refuge for industry. Dismayed by this discovery, the youth declared it an oxymoron. 


Jan now works with Extinction Rebellion and the Portland Public Schools Climate Justice Committee, and writes many articles for Portland publications about the dangers of Zenith Energy.

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