After several years of visioning and a generous gift from a family foundation, ROP opened our Community Building Center in 2019 in downtown Cottage Grove.
What is the Community Building Center?
ROP’s Community Building Center is a large and versatile gathering space in downtown Cottage Grove. The Center serves as a meeting space for local partner organizations, a venue for events and trainings, and a gathering place for leaders from across rural Oregon for workshops and strategy sessions.
The coronavirus, economic recession, and devastating wildfires in 2020 exposed the gaps in social safety nets that leave rural communities without reliable access to emergency resources, food, housing, healthcare, childcare, internet access, and more. Rural Oregonians built dozens of mutual aid networks to feed neighbors, share health and safety information and make sure anyone who needs help gets it. In response to requests from our partners around town, ROP’s Community Building Center turned into a mutual aid hub of resource sharing, coordinating with dozens of service agencies, school district workers, faith communities, and volunteers to make sure families struggling from layoffs and housing shortages, quarantining through COVID-19 and evacuating wildfires could get food boxes, hygiene supplies and hot meals with no questions asked, no limits and no barriers.
Why a Community Building Center?
Public gathering spaces are vital to building strong, resilient communities. As libraries, schools, post offices, and small-town businesses are shut down, there are fewer and fewer gathering spaces in rural communities. ROP’s Community Building Center is more than a building. It’s a hub. A haven. A home for community groups working to advance our shared values of human dignity, respect, self-determination, and democracy. The Center not only serves as an ROP’s office, but it is also a symbol of our momentum and a doorway into a rural movement for human dignity. For the people of South Lane and North Douglas Counties especially, it’s a public space for gathering and organizing. For human dignity groups across the state, it’s a resource for strategies and ideas.
Our Community Building Center is a robust community hub that includes:
A Community Gathering Space. When public health measures allow, the Center will once again be a place for community partners to gather and host events, workshops, classes, support groups, potlucks, and social gatherings that focus on building stronger, healthier, more vibrant rural communities for all. We are expanding access to the Center and implementing upgrades to allow for a diverse range of events, workshops, and public programming.
A Base for Crisis Response. From snowstorms to COVID-19, the Center serves as an organizing hub for replicable crisis-response strategies. During the coronavirus pandemic, we transformed the building into a distribution center for supplies and information, coordinating with a coalition of service agencies, school district workers, community organizations, and faith communities.
Rural Organizing Archive and Library: ROP and our member groups have collected materials from more than 30 years of community building work. We are working to make those resources and materials available for today’s leaders to draw inspiration from and adapt to their communities’ needs. Examples from this history in each region of the state will be used to decorate the space and all materials in the library will also be available in digital format.
A Center for Arts: ROP will use the Center as a physical location to amplify rural and small-town work for cultural change. The Center features local artists and opens our doors for Cottage Grove’s monthly Art Walk.
A Model for Sustainability: We are investing now in the resources that will turn our Center into a model for sustainability, with solar panels, efficient heating and cooling systems, outdoor meeting spaces, and more.
Groups and organizations that share a commitment to human dignity are welcome to reach out about holding not-for-profit food and resource sharing events. For additional details about the facilities and to inquire about using the space, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have been busy with repairs and improvements, as we continue to transform the space into a community center for Lane and Douglas Counties and a gathering space for groups from across rural Oregon. We look forward to sharing our rural hospitality with you!
Wondering if the building would be available for your upcoming meeting? You can now check our calendar: