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Articles by Iris M. Crawford

Before entering journalism, Iris Crawford worked for the NAACP’s environmental and climate justice program as a western United States regional organizer.

Featured Article

Climate activist Niria Garcia stands amid the burned-out remains of her father's home in Phoenix, Ore. His house and the surrounding trailer park were destroyed in a September 2020 wildfire. Garcia and other activists say the wealthier town of Ashland, down Interstate about 15 miles, got more explicit orders to evacuate than did people in Phoenix and nearby Talent, which ultimately suffered worse damage than Ashland.

This story is part of the series Getting to Zero: Decarbonizing Cascadia, which explores the path to low-carbon energy for British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. This project is produced in partnership with InvestigateWest and other media outlets and is supported in part by the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

The heavy wind woke Niria Garcia about 5 a.m. It whipped against her home, leaving her restless as she fitfully tried to get a little more sleep.

“Something doesn’t feel right,” Garcia thought to herself.

On that day last September, a devastating fire ripped through Southern Oregon, whipped by those very winds that woke Garcia, a Xicana climate activist based in Talent, a town of about 6,500 people. Three people would die and more than 2,800 homes and other buildings would be destroyed by the fire.

Later that morning, Garcia heard that nearby Ashland was being evacuated. Around 11 a.m. Garcia looked out her window and saw that the wind still was not letting up. Then she saw the smoke.

“I’m not going to sit here and wait,” said Garcia. 

She evacuated immediately.

It was only in A... Read more

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