“The less dependent we are on oil, the less we support Putin’s imperial war machine.”
— Sam Balto
Portlander Sam Balto is using Russia’s war in Ukraine as a way to raise awareness about driving gasoline-powered cars.
Balto was inspired by someone who recreated a World War II anti-Hitler propaganda poster and shared it on their Twitter account last Thursday. The graphic, which was accompanied by the message “If you want to hit Russia where it hurts, cut your petroleum use,” replaced Hitler with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It shows someone driving in a car with Putin next to them in order to link the popular use of gasoline for driving cars to the unpopular Russian dictator.
Balto says he loved the poster from @no_face (who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, according to his Twitter profile) so much he wanted to spread it on a local level. He has printed and laminated 8.5 x 11-inch versions and is giving them away to anyone in Portland who donates at least $10 to the Community Cycling Center.
For Balto, the Putin-Ukraine-driving connection is simple. “There’s a relationship between our oil consumption and Russian oil production,” Balto shared with us this morning. “The less dependent we are on oil, the less we support Putin’s imperial war machine and his invasion into Ukraine.” Balto has been an outspoken activist in Portland for years and his work centers around encouraging people to walk and bike to school. Balto earned a Weston Award from Oregon Walks in 2019.
According to the International Energy Agency, Russia is the largest oil exporter to global markets and the United States buys about 540,000 barrels per day — or 6.6% of our total supply — from them. Gas prices have spiked in recent days as a result of this relationship.
For his part, Eric @no_face is selling stickers of the graphic online with proceeds going toward a nonprofit sending aid to Ukraine.
If you want to grab one of these posters and pick it up locally, just donate to the Community Cycling Center and share a screenshot of your receipt with Balto via Twitter.