Editor's Note: Activists in Portland, Oregon, are gaining traction with several initiatives focused on making the city investments free from conflict minerals from Congo. In this guest post by Alysha Atma, Amanda Ulrich, and Robert Hadley, the Oregon Coalition for Humanity members describe their recent successes.
For the past year the Oregon Coalition for Humanity, or OCH, has been working towards building a permanent anti-genocide constituency in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. By linking needs with resources, people with organizations, and organizations with events, we hope to deliver the maximum impact for our collective voices.
OCH recently launched our own Conflict-free City Initiative in Portland, Oregon. On September 27, Rob and Alysha introduced CFCI Portland to our city officials during a community engagement session and formally introduced themselves to Portland Commissioner Amanda Fritz. Conflict-free Portland found a ready audience among the community.
As a result of the work we are doing in the community, we were able to secure a meeting with Intel—a company with offices in Oregon—that has been a leader in its own efforts to invest in conflict-free supply chains from the Democratic Republic of Congo. This past March, Intel committed to making a conflict-free microprocessor with minerals from Congo by 2013.
On September 14, OCH sat down with Intel’s conflict-free program manager, who is spearheading the company's conflict-free microprocessor project. The meeting was productive and demonstrated the strong impact our consumer activism has made in pushing Intel toward this goal. Intel asked for help bringing awareness to other leading industries, such as the automotive and jewelry industries. We are proud to be part of this team of industry leaders, advocates, non-profits, and Congolese all working together to bring to an end the issue of conflict minerals and instability in eastern Congo.
Intel is also in the process of digesting the rules recently promulgated by the Securities and Exchange Commission to make sure that they are compliant and that the rules won't impact any of their current goals or processes.
We imparted OCH’s support and appreciation for Intel's leadership, and conveyed that their leadership within industry has already had an impact. We look forward to the many opportunities to work together, both in support of and to further Intel's efforts to remain a conflict-free industry leader, especially within the state of Oregon.
Making Portland, Oregon, a conflict-free city has proven challenging, but it is a challenge that we all agree is worth it. We are in regular contact with women in eastern Congo who inspire us to push for this reform. We have secured the commitments from industry leaders and small businesses within Portland. We have made it this far by establishing relationships with those near and far, by representing and respecting the various voices that we work with daily, and by the inspiration that we give one another.
Our patience is enduring, as is our commitment to the goal of passing this conflict-free resolution and continuing to engage industry leaders like Intel. Bringing awareness to every member of the city council; the Portland auto, jewelry, and electronics industry leaders; and city residents so that everyone has a chance to advocate for the women and families of Congo is a fight worth fighting.
Alysha Atma is co-founder and executive director of Atma Foundation, where she also serves as an awareness and advocacy educator. Amanda Ulrich is a volunteer ambassador for Women for Women International. She works as a paralegal at Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton, a medium sized plaintiff’s firm in Portland, Oregon. Robert Hadley is a director at Atma Foundation. He is also an educator of genocide and Holocaust studies with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Regional Teacher Corps.