Sage - Lenny Dee

Meet one of our SagesLenny Dee. He’s giving forward by leading a call to action on global climate change.

“More people have to be involved,” insists Lenny Dee, Portland activist for social change. Dee has been working through grassroots advocacy in the Portland community since he moved here from New York City in 1970. Soon after arriving, he led the first campaign to oppose urban redevelopment threatening the Goose Hollow neighborhood. That effort raised public awareness about the importance of community and initiated the development of municipal policies to nurture our urban neighborhoods.

Lenny Dee’s activist life has been filled with efforts to encourage a different perspective on the relationships we have with each other and the institutions that support our lives. In the early 90s, Lenny helped grow the Coalition for a Livable Future’s unique approach to regional issues with over 100 organizations recognizing that all our concerns are interrelated. He sees advocacy for social change as a relational process – a “heart connection” that involves teamwork and one-to-one conversations. His grassroots philosophy parallels his game strategy as a basketball point guard, “I put the ball in others’ hands so they can do the best they can." He hopes to see the development of strong and participatory communities of neighbors, families and friends.

Like SAGE, Lenny is a strong advocate for future generations. For the last ten years he has led Onward Oregon, an online progressive activist group whose emails go out to over 40,000 Oregonians on state and local issues. Their mission states “We inherit the good that flowed from the people who came before us and the societies they created and will continue building on that foundation. The decisions we make today will dictate the quality of our lives together and those of generations to come – we will create the future for ourselves and our children.”

Lenny’s current goal is to impact the urgent threat of climate change on our planet. As he talks about the issue it is clear that the survival of our planet is the most primary social issue. In 2013 he helped start a Portland chapter of the climate organization The number 350 refers to climate safety: to preserve a livable planet, scientists say we must lower the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from the current level of 400 parts per million to below 350 ppm.

The Oregon Climate Declaration campaign seeks 100,000 Oregonians to sign on by 2015 to help make Oregon a national model in responding to climate change. “We can lead by building a mass movement here that will make a real difference.”

A special thanks to the volunteer author of this story, Cynthia Sturm.


" We can lead by building a mass movement here that will make a real difference."
Lenny Dee

Lenny's grassroots action list:

  • SIGN The Oregon Climate Declaration, which strives to give a voice to the more than one million Oregonians who report they are “very concerned” about climate change.
  • JOIN  - an online campaign active in over 188 countries that is building a global climate movement. If you are interested in getting involved locally with 350 Portland, e-mail
  • KEEP LEARNING “So you can do better what you do."

Lenny is a SAGE peer-to-peer advisor. Contact him with questions.