Oregon Waterway Conservation Food Festival

Raising awareness to preserve and heal waterways in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest


Background Information

Throughout his semester at Alzar School, Theo experienced the beauty and power of rivers and freshwater bodies of water. From the Payette to Blue Lake to The Rio Baker and Lago General Carrera, he saw how these bodies of water provide so much to the world, and have made a massive impact on his life, as well everyone who has experienced them. Growing up in Oregon, Theo has found himself taking these waterways for granted. The Willamette, Columbia, and the hundreds of small lakes he grew up with in Oregon mean so much to him, and are a central part of who Oregonians are. Although these waterways are extremely important to Oregon, they have not been treated as such. According to the EPA, Oregon has 1.29 million pounds of toxic chemicals dumped into their waterways, yearly. 67% of Oregon is in a perpetual state of drought. Theo’s goal is to confront these problems through a multi-faceted system of raising awareness and generating money for real change. Working with the Freshwater Trust, a charity that works to preserve and heal waterways in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest he will hold an event with the goal of raising awareness for Portlanders about the issues facing Oregon in general that may not affect Portland. This event will combine informational sessions from the Freshwater Trust and other charities about water sustainability issues as well as restaurants important to Portland’s culture. Theo is excited to make a positive impact on all Oregonian’s lives as well as the waterways they all treasure though this project.

Implementation of Project

Theo started working on the project as soon as he got home from his semester at Alzar School. He formed a group of friends to work on the project, and made contacts in conservation organization to work on the project with.  Specifically, he worked with the Freshwater Trust, a local nonprofit, to develop a plan for a large scale event involving Portland chefs as well as more water nonprofits.  Unfortunately, the pandemic abruptly ended the plans for a large event as well as a way to incorporate the badly affected restaurant industry. The plan has pivoted to an online way to support both clean waterways as well as the restaurant industry, with a possibility of an event next spring.

Results of Project

The hopeful end results of this project are to find a way to have a project that still carries the spirit and the main ideas of the food festival event, but is done online to avoid health risks. Theo also still hopes to hold the event at some time in the future, even if it has to be in a year. Through the adapted project, he aims to help the people and waterways of Oregon as much as he can in this unprecedented time.

What’s Next

Theo will graduate from the Catlin Gabel School in 2021, and hopes that the project could continue to be an annual celebration once the pandemic ends.  Short-term, he wants to do all he can to save the waterways of Oregon, as well as aid restaurants during this difficult time. Theo will continue to use the leadership skills he learned at Alzar School throughout his life, and hopes that he can use them to positively impact the world as much as he can!