The participatory roots of the
Necessity project are deep and wide.
From Native artists and activists, grassroots organizations to movement scholars and lawyers, Necessity is grounded in stories of resistance. We spotlight here the many gifted spirits who sustain this documentary film project.
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 II: Rail, Rivers and 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.
“In telling the story of the Zenith trial, Necessity II: Rail, Rivers and the Thin Green Line 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.”
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.”
Jan taught in Portland Public Schools for 30 years, and in 1995, co-founded the
Sunnyside Environmental Middle School.
In her classroom she emphasized environmental issues and climate activism, and accomplished this by creating a student-nature connection and extended her teaching past the four walls of a classroom. She made it a point to take 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 in St. Johns, Portland, 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 “sanctuary” for industry. The youth were dismayed by this discovery, calling it an oxymoron, and that a sanctuary cannot be used for industry.
There is a reciprocal impact between teachers and their students, and this is highlighted in Jan’s life. She taught her students about climate activism, and they inspired her to bravely fight for their future. She now works with Extinction Rebellion and the Portland Public Schools Climate Justice Committee, as well as writing many articles for Portland publications about the dangers of Zenith Energy.
If you would like to help stop the building of the Zenith Energy tar sands oil facility in NW Portland, please sign the petition provided by 350PDX at this link: https://pdx350.salsalabs.org/stop-zenith/index.html
Necessity II: Rail, Rivers and the Thin Green Line
to watch Jan Zuckerman in action.
Art for Action with Necessity II Featured Artist Asa Wright
The Necessity documentaries weave Indigenous art and motion graphic maps into the films, as well as regional photography and historical archives that provide a richly layered ethnographic texture to the stories of climate resistance. Native artist Asa Wright created an animated sequence of paintings for Part II, set in the Columbia River Gorge. The art sequence accompanies "The Monster Who Came Up the River,”a fable written by Umatilla storyteller Esther Motanic and narrated in the film by Walla Walla Chief Don Sampson. Be sure to check out Necessity II to see Asa’s work come to life.
Visual Artist | Designer | Activist
Asa is an enrolled member of the Klamath Tribes from Chiloquin, Oregon though he has called Portland home for the last 20 years. He is an artist of many mediums including painting, screen printing, graphic design and cultural arts. Asa has a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health from Portland State University and a Masters degree in Collaborative Design from Pacific NW College of Art. He blends his backgrounds in public health and art/design to work on cultural revitalization, decolonization and positive social change.
Asa also trains communities in and creates art for action, which is art that brings about awareness of social justice issues that motivates communities, people and organizations to mobilize for direct change.
“Art is like air for me: I need it to live. It feeds me, it’s an outlet, it’s healing.”