Ballot Measure 9 would have turned LGBTQ+ Oregonians into second-class citizens. The Oregon Citizens Alliance (OCA), and groups like them, spread the idea that not everyone deserves access to public programs like schools, libraries, and healthcare. They used this type of scapegoating as a way to build support for cutting funding to these services, slowly eroding programs that are vital to rural communities.
We connected with each other in our home communities and across the state to protect, defend, and build an all-inclusive democracy. We looked to the World Book Encyclopedia for the definition of democracy. The four basic principles of democracy are:
ROP Founder Marcy Westerling shares the lessons organizers learned while defeating Ballot Measure 9.
In 1994, the ROP Wisdom Summit brought rural leaders together to discuss our next moves as the OCA continued its attempts to dismantle the civil rights of gay and lesbian Oregonians through initiatives at city and county levels.
Human dignity group leaders discussed what we were seeing in our communities and developed action plans to push back.
Finding Solutions Together
We come together in local communities and across the state to share stories about the threats and opportunities our communities face, think through solutions, and develop community organizing strategies.
We learn from each other about what works (and what doesn’t).
Cris Lira reflects on sharing stories of challenges and victories at ROP Board of Directors meetings and the hope this brought to her own work. “I learned that change can happen.”
Building Bridges with Neighbors
Through talking and getting to know each other, we find common ground to build lasting relationships with our neighbors. One big way this happens, every other year, is by going door-to-door around election time, discussing what’s on the ballot and how those choices align with our shared rural values.
Together we identify the threats to democracy and human dignity that our communities face, find ways to solve them, and take action.
Amy Dudley suggests that sometimes the best antidote to feeling isolated is to go knock on your neighbor’s door and chat with them about the hot-button topics of the day.
Taking Action as a State
Once we have identified the issues affecting our communities, groups determine local actions to take. Regionally or statewide, we take on challenges together. Below is a photo from the Northern Oregon Regional Corrections facility in The Dalles, where people being held indefinitely in inhumane conditions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) went on a hunger strike to demand nutritious meals, reduced costs for phone calls, and an end to NORCOR’s contract with ICE. When community leaders heard about the hunger strike, they began organizing to amplify the hunger strikers’ demands, and the hunger strikers won!
After two hunger strikes and almost three years of organizing to end the inhumane conditions for people detained at NORCOR, the NORCOR Board voted to end their contract with ICE!
ROP in Action!
Ready to talk to your neighbors about the issues impacting your community the most?