Earth Day-themed presentation goes on — quarantine style

When Derek Hoshiko was selected to give an Earth Day-themed lecture for a Seattle history museum, he didn’t quite picture himself sitting at his desk at home while it was happening.

The Bayview resident was offered the chance to be the annual Denny Lecture speaker for the MOHAI, the Museum of History and Industry, back in January.

Public Programs Developer Rachel Spence said Hoshiko was chosen for his focus on environmental activism and its history in the Pacific Northwest.

However, with the governor’s stay-at-home order, the museum decided to cancel all programming.

“That was just devastating, because I was very excited about it,” Hoshiko said.

He urged the museum staff to consider using the webinar website Zoom to host his lecture.

To his delight, they agreed, and he gave his Earth Day themed lecture last week.

During the lecture, Hoshiko spoke about his journey as an environmental activist and organizer, as well as the history of Earth Day.

“Trying to sit down while being animated and engaged was a little hard,” he admitted, adding that being able to have notes at his desk was really great.

Hoshiko spoke about some of his bicycle activism during the lecture, including his 1,100-mile trip to the Athabasca Tar Sands in Alberta. He described the pilgrimage as being a balance of camping, campaigning and cooking.

Along the way he helped interview and record the stories of activists and indigenous people living near the lands, all while biking between 60 and 90 miles every day and staying at campsites overnight for the two weeks it took to get there.

To date, it remains one of the hardest things he’s done as an environmental activist but it was also life-changing, he said.

As part of the lecture, Hoshiko also talked about COVID-19 as a window into a regenerative economy, with the potential to create energy efficient jobs by electrifying buildings. He suggested an effort to close oil refineries over the next 10 years, and to provide a transition for the refinery workers. He also recommended promoting education about climate change for youth.

At the end of his Zoom lecture, which was accompanied by a slide show presentation, MOHAI staff curated questions for him to answer.

The lecture had as many as 190 attendees at one point. Hoshiko was happy to see that Whidbey Island residents who would not have been able to make it to Seattle under normal circumstances to see him speak at the museum were present at the webinar.

“A lot of people in our community were able to participate, and it was great to see them on there,” he said.

His most recent efforts on Whidbey have involved supporting youth demonstrations as a mentor to the organizers.

He has helped youth organizers with their weekly demonstrations in front of Wells Fargo and Chase banks in Freeland, and has also helped support a group of Oak Harbor students going to Olympia as part of a youth climate lobby day event.

Hoshiko continues to explore digital organization for climate change activism through the website, forthepeople.earth.

His Earth Day lecture commemorating the 50th anniversary of the day can be found on YouTube and on MOHAI’s website.

An earlier version of this story said Hoshiko took a 500-mile trip to the Athabasca Tar Sands in Alberta. It has since been updated with the correct information.

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