Leonard Higgins

Photo by Paul Neevel

After graduation from Springfield High School in 1970, Leonard Higgins worked in local lumber mills, studied at Lane Community College and the University of Oregon, and briefly engaged in antiwar activism. He spent four years as a union carpenter in eastern Oregon, then put in 31 years of suit-and-tie work for the state of Oregon, beginning as a tax auditor and later specializing in IT project management, moving state services onto the internet. He retired in 2010 at age 58. Already a student of Joanna Macy and The Work That Reconnects (aka Deep Ecology), he studied systems theory at Portland State for a year, with a focus on climate change, and co-founded the climate-awareness group 350 Corvallis in 2012. “I had lived there from 1980 to 2009,” he notes, “and vanpooled to Salem.” In 2013, he and fellow Act On Climate activist Arnold Schroder locked themselves onto trucks hauling megaloads of tar sands oil extraction equipment to Canada. “It took Umatilla County deputies hours to get us unhooked,” he says. “I became a teacher of nonviolent direct action and testified at federal and state hearings.” On Oct. 11, 2016, Higgins was one of five “valve turners” who shut down all of the tar sands oil flowing into the U.S. from Canada. “I spent a lot of time studying maps and safety protocols,” he says. “I scouted all of the emergency block valve locations.” Convicted of felony criminal mischief in Montana, his case is under appeal in the Montana Supreme Court. Now living in Eugene and a member of 350 Eugene and Extinction Rebellion, among other groups, he is taking part in planning for the upcoming September Global Climate Strike, beginning with a kickoff rally at the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza on Friday, Sept. 20, noon-4 pm.

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