Downtime with Nora Apter


Jason E. Kaplan
Nora Apter with her dog on Mount Tabor in Portland

Unwinding with the Oregon Environmental Council’s director of programs

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What are you reading? 

I finally brought myself to pick up The Ministry for the Future, which is a “cli-fi” (climate fiction) novel by Kim Stanley Robinson. I say “finally” because — given I spend most waking hours thinking about climate change — reading about a not-so-fictional, not-so-distant dystopian climate future isn’t exactly a break from the news and science reading I pore over during the workday.

What are you watching? 

I’m still mourning the end of Succession, but since the series finale, I’ve been enjoying Mr. and Mrs. Smith (and, really, anything with Donald Glover), SNL (it’s hit or miss but always light) and have made it through nearly every 2024 “Best Picture” nominee (Poor Things and Past Lives were my favorites). 

What are you listening to?

Ezra Klein is pretty much always in my ear, but I also love our local news and politics podcasts, especially Think Out Loud. Music-wise, I never tire of my old standbys (Fleetwood Mac, Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, Animal Collective) with a healthy dose of ’90s R&B (Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott) and modern alt/pop (Sylvan Esso, Robyn, Little Dragon, etc.). 

What is your must-have gadget? 

If I could go back in time, I’d choose a Discman: I miss the days of popping in a CD and listening through an entire album on a walk. 

What are your hobbies/interests? 

Pretty much all of my time outside of work is spent with friends and family — usually over dinner or drinks, or exploring somewhere new in nature. I’m grateful to have a big community in Portland. Beyond socializing, my most consistent “hobby” is going on long walks or runs with my dog to Mt. Tabor or Laurelhurst. 

Where is your favorite place to vacation?  

If I had to choose a favorite local spot, I would say Rooster Rock in the Gorge. It’s just 20 minutes from our house in Northeast Portland, and yet something about being on a sandy island in the middle of the Columbia River completely transports you to a vacation mindset. Beyond Oregon, my favorite place to vacation is as far away as possible — the more geographically and culturally distant, the better. 

What motivates you to come to work?  

Every day I get to learn, problem solve, and collaborate with inspiring partners and colleagues to develop meaningful solutions to systemic issues. I am passionate about fighting for a healthy, thriving and just future for Oregon communities and our climate, and I am a firm believer in the power of public policy. 

What ambitions do you still have? 

I’m proud to have been part of some truly remarkable policy progress the past few years — progress that would not have been possible without the backing of powerful, diverse coalitions working together toward a common vision. Now what I am most eager to do is to leverage this momentum to keep building allies and expanding partnerships to continue the fight for economic, racial, and climate justice in Oregon and beyond. 


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