Bridging Divides, Defending Dignity
How rural Oregonians have moved democracy forward since 1992!
Exhibit Host Guide
Bridging Divides Defending Dignity was produced by the Rural Organizing Project.
This accompanying exhibit host guide was updated on July 27th, 2022
PO Box 664 Cottage Grove, OR 97424
email@example.com | 503-543-8417 | www.rop.org
Welcome to the exhibit host guide for Bridging Divides, Defending Dignity: How rural Oregonians have moved democracy forward since 1992! We are excited that your community wants to host the traveling exhibit celebrating 30 years of rural organizing through the Rural Organizing Project! This planning guide is to support you in hosting the traveling exhibit. You also have a team of folks at ROP that are ready to support you. If you have any questions about this packet or about planning your event, get in touch with your local ROP organizer or contact Sidra by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (541) 799-6136!
What is the exhibit and what’s in this guide?
2022 marks the third decade since a network of rural human dignity groups came together to defend democracy and defeat Measure 9, a homophobic ballot measure put forward by the Oregon Citizens Alliance. Since then, that network became the Rural Organizing Project and together we have won important victories and learned crucial lessons in what makes rural organizing successful for the long haul. We took this opportunity of turning 30 years old to speak with hundreds of current and historic community leaders and organizers around the state and together we reflected on the past 30 years of powerful rural organizing, and the ways we have learned and grown along the way.
The result became this traveling exhibit, Bridging Divides, Defending Dignity, that your group can use to kick-start a community conversation about organizing for human dignity and democracy in your town. It can offer a space for people to connect, share their own memories of this important movement, and relate the past to our present moment while strategizing together about the world we can build for future generations!
Bridging Divides, Defending Dignity consists of eight free-standing panels that each panel lift up stories of powerful rural organizing, from defeating Ballot Measure 9 to saving hundreds rural post offices from closure, and taking action in defense of Black Lives in every corner of the state. The design is specifically created to be easily set up at the ends of library bookshelves, in a community center or grange hall, or out on a pathway in your local park. The sleeves are double-sided, with Spanish on one side and English on the other. We invite you to think of the ways that bringing this movement history to your community could move your neighbors and political leaders toward action!
This packet includes resources to help plan your local tour stop and help keep the organizing on-track, including suggested planning timelines:
. . .
Menu of Options: Accompanying Events
This document is to help you brainstorm what event(s) you want to plan around hosting the exhibit! If your group already has something planned or in mind, please roll with that and let us know how we can support you in your planning! Contact ROP at (541) 799 6136 or at email@example.com to schedule the exhibit in your community and discuss any of the ideas below.
- Film Night: Screen a documentary that draws folks to the exhibit and opens conversations about any of the issues and campaigns in the exhibit, from immigrant rights to election organizing to racial justice. Hold a discussion afterwards with possible action steps for people to take moving forward.
- Panel: Organize a panel with longtime local leaders or other movement elders to share their memories of the past 30 years and their vision for the future.
○ Feeling stuck? Reach out to your local historians, educators and librarians
and ask for their ideas of possible community leaders and elders who would be great panel speakers.
- Living Room Conversation: Living Room Conversations are casual gatherings in someone’s home or another cozy place where community members agree to respect each other (but not necessarily agree) and talk about a particularly confusing, or controversial issue of the day. It’s a space for education, learning from one another, hearing about each other’s experiences & building our analysis of how issues are interconnected. An ROP organizer can help facilitate this conversation, or support you in developing the agenda so you can lead it!
- Partner with Schools: Partner with local educators to bring the exhibit directly to students and teachers and connect the exhibit with relevant curriculum. Set the exhibit up in the gym or auditorium so that teachers can bring their classes through the exhibit throughout the day.
Make your event part of your plan of action!
Any event you hold can be a part of your local human dignity group’s larger strategy for creating thriving rural communities, and building deep relationships with your most impacted neighbors. Talk with your local group and event partners about ways that the exhibit and events could tie into local work, and about possible next moves to build support for at your exhibit event. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for support in making an action plan with these or other ideas. Here are some examples of next moves that the exhibit and accompanying events could build toward:
- Start a local human dignity group! Get together with friends and others in your community with shared values to talk about the change you want to make. Bring a sign in sheet like this one to your first meeting, whether it’s a conversation about this exhibit or something else!
- Distribute Small Town Actions for a New Democracy (STAND) election guides from ROP: The election is nearly upon us and STAND election guides are a great conversation starter. The STAND Guide has information on who can vote, how to vote, and what statewide ballot measures will be up for a vote on November 8th. You can use this as a chance to go door to door, connect with your neighbors, and dig into real issues and important decisions we face on our ballots this year.
- Welcoming Posters in Local Businesses: A great first action as a group can be to go around to local businesses and ask them to post welcoming posters. This encourages local businesses and organizations to be overt and proactive in building a welcoming community by placing posters in their store windows. It also helps build your group’s profile in the community while mapping out community allies for future organizing efforts (Check out this example from Coos County, Oregon!)
Sample Conversation Facilitation Guide
6:30 – 6:50pm: Introduce yourself and your local human dignity group. Thank
co-sponsors, including your venue hosts and other groups that helped get the word out.
Describe the timeline for the event so they know to stick around for the whole
- If there are fewer than 25 participants, take 10-15 minutes for everyone to go around the room and introduce themselves, and say a few words about why they came to the event.
- For a larger audience, have participants turn to a neighbor, introduce themselves, and say a few words about why they came to the event.
6:50 – 7:20pm: Encourage participants to find a buddy and walk through the exhibit. They will have to start in different parts of the exhibit, but leave time for them to get to every panel. Give a 5 minute warning before reconvening.
7:20 – 8:00pm: Discussion: For the next 30 minutes we are going to break into small groups of no more than 4 people to discuss two questions. The small groups will have about 10 minutes to answer each question. After each question, you’ll turn your attention to the front of the room for groups to share their thoughts with the whole room. I will keep time and let everyone know when it’s time to transition.”
In each group, choose a note-taker and go around the group sharing your thoughts. If
you’re someone who is usually the first to speak, consider moving back, and if you are
someone who listens more than you speak, consider speaking up.
7:25pm Question 1: Where do you see connections between the stories in the exhibit and what’s going on in your community today?
- Use a timer and remind people when they have 1 minute remaining.
- Choose a method of calling attention that doesn’t involve hollering above the
conversation such as, “clap once if you can hear me. Clap twice if you can hear
7:35pm: Question 1: Who has an observation they’d like to share? Have an assistant help you
record what they said on the easel pad.
7:40pm: Question 2: Many folks leave these conversations wondering what they
can do to address current needs in their community. Using these stories and
lessons as a foundation, let’s brainstorm some ideas of what can we do. Are there
ways we can take action together?
7:50pm: Come back together and share observations and ideas.
8:00pm: Closing: Thank you all so much for taking the time to be here tonight! This
was a powerful conversation and space to be in together! Before folks leave, there are a
couple of reminders we’d like to share:
- List any follow-up events and opportunities to continue these conversations.
- Please don’t forget to fill out your evaluation form and turn it in [AT THE BACK? TO ME?]
- If you would like the notes from this conversation, please make sure we have your information on the sign-in sheet [AT THE BACK OF THE ROOM?].
- This exhibit is made available to us for free through the Rural Organizing Project. ROP relies on donations from people like you all over the state to keep doing this work. If you are able to support with any amount $5 or $500, it will go a long way to keeping the network going for the next 30 years.
Thank you again and good night!
ROP can support groups in getting the exhibit to and from your area. Additionally, there is no cost to your group for hosting the exhibit itself.
The exhibit consists of seven panels that are 7 feet tall and about 3 feet wide. The panels are made up of fabric sleeves that slips over light, collapsible metal frames.
The whole exhibit will travel in two duffle bags, each of which will be under 40 pounds and can fit in just about any car!
The exhibit can be set up outdoors or indoors, but please don’t leave it outdoors in a downpour or unattended somewhere that it might be stolen.
You can find more details in the set-up and take-down instructions section.
Exhibit Planning Timeline
Hosting this exhibit is a great opportunity to begin or strengthen dialogue in rural communities both about the victories won in the last 30 years and what we can do together in the next 30. With good planning, this event can strengthen your local group and bring your community together to advance human dignity for all.
Most importantly, a solid outreach plan will ensure that participants make it into the room! Following this timeline will allow your group to plan an effective and impactful event at a manageable pace:
6 weeks before the exhibit starts
- Confirm a space to hold the exhibit. Keep in mind your target audience– the space may influence who feels welcome to the event. Is the room accessible for people who use wheelchairs and walkers? If you need to use a projector, can you darken the room when the projector is in use? Make sure the location is available, and make reservations.
- Hint: Libraries across the state have hosted historical exhibits in the past – and who better to help with outreach than your local librarian?
- Hint: The exhibit is portable! Could you bring it to a school auditorium for a day?
- If you are planning an event to accompany exhibit you will also need a nearby room or space where an audience can gather.
- Brainstorm who you plan to reach out to! Use the next section to help
kick-start that planning!
- Consolidate your organizing team. The ideal number of people to plan this event is about 5-7, though you should have a minimum of 3 people working on it. If you have been thinking of folks to recruit to your local human dignity group, this could be your opportunity to ask them to pitch in!
- Discuss with your group about what you hope to get out of hosting the exhibit. How do you hope the exhibit will influence or shape your work? Will this be an opportunity for your group to reach new audiences and recruit new volunteers? Who could you partner with to hold the event? Do you hope to build the leadership within your own group? Do you want to schedule a follow-up meeting to invite event participants to continue the conversation that gets started?
- Brainstorm with your group (use the Menu of Options for ideas!) what events, programming or educational opportunities could accompany the exhibit. Contact ROP at email@example.com and let us know how we can help!
5 weeks before the exhibit start
- Have those conversations with key people and groups in your community following your outreach plan to ask for co-sponsors and people to help spread the word. Educators, faith leaders, and local historians are all good places to start.
- Think about logistics. Investigate what equipment (microphone for larger rooms, projector, projector screen, etc.) is available at the location, and what you need to bring. Think about how to use the space at your location and what kind of food or refreshments you may choose to provide to create a warm, inviting, conversational atmosphere.
- This is a good time to make sure you have a brochure or other materials to
share about your group. This is a big opportunity to grow your volunteer base
and your leadership team!
- Create drafts of “save the date” invitations for email and mail, press releases,
flyers, and any other materials you might need.
- Samples of these materials are at the end of this packet for you to use or
modify…that was easy!
4 weeks before the exhibit starts
- Finalize and send out “save the date” invitations on paper and over email. Make sure you include announcements for any event that will accompany the exhibit!
- Start getting the word out to the public with flyers and posters: churches, civic groups, & schools would be good places to try. Can you make ¼ sheet announcements and have a trusted contact distribute them at meetings and events?
- Create your media timeline – check out the Getting Coverage!: Media Planning Guide below. Make sure to do this early – many newspapers and newsletters require 4 weeks notice!
- Make a plan with ROP for how we will get the exhibit to you – contact ROP at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will do our best to get the exhibit to you with minimal effort from your group members, but we may need your help in coordinating transportation. Also start talking with ROP about when and how your group is passing the exhibit to the next hosts.
2 weeks before the exhibit starts
- Call – by phone! – all of the people you would like to see at the exhibit (and any event you are planning with it). Remember that personal invitations are the best way to get people to attend. The best time for calling is in the evening between 6pm and 8pm, or on weekend mornings. A calling party is a fun way to make phone calls, and be sure to divide up your list so that people get a call from a person that is close to them, if possible.
- Make sure the email announcements are going out from your allies, and that local newspapers and community news sources are carrying your event notice! Don’t see it yet? Give them a friendly phone call to remind them!
1 week before exhibit starts
- Prepare logistics: photocopies of information for tabling, food and beverages for
events, and any other materials that may be important to the exhibit.
- Send reminder emails and follow up phone calls to people as needed.
- Make media calls and do other media work as needed.
- Confirm roles for the exhibit and event. Who will introduce the event? Who is
setting up refreshments? Who is welcoming folks as they come in the door,
asking them to sign-in on the sign-in sheet?
- Confirm when and how your group will receive the exhibit from ROP.
- The day has come! If you are holding an event to go with the exhibit: set up chairs, tables, equipment, and food! If you are holding an opening event, be sure to arrive a couple of hours early to troubleshoot your technology resources: computer, sound, projector, and screen.
- For your event you should designate one person from your group the official “MC,” master of ceremonies. This person will introduce the local organizing group, ROP, and conclude the event, and if possible, ask for donations. Donations should be accepted but don’t worry about setting a fundraising goal. Funds raised will go to ROP to cover transportation costs, unless a different arrangement is worked out in advance.
After the exhibit
- Be sure to follow up promptly with participants, giving both people who attended and your group members that couldn’t make it the highlights of the event. Be sure to include next steps for your group and give people a way to get more involved in creating just and inclusive communities.
- You can send a follow-up press release (include a photo!) to the local paper sharing your successful event! Are there next steps you’d like to invite potential members to?
- Complete and return the host evaluation form to ROP within two weeks, along with the completed participant evaluation forms and copies of public materials such as press clippings, posters, bookmarks, photos, and advertisements. We would love to share anything you want shared about what you did with the network!
- Confirm with ROP who and how your group is passing the exhibit to the next hosts.
Remember: this is a guideline! If you are getting a late start or are falling behind on the timeline, please reach out to ROP so we can support you and your group! Email ROP at email@example.com or give us a call at (541) 799 6136.
Outreach Strategies: Who to Invite and How
Do you have an event or multiple events planned around hosting the exhibit, and now
need to spread the word to other local organizers, community members, and friends?
This section provides some outreach suggestions and templates, as well as some
example flyers from the last time we had a traveling exhibit.
The total number of people you would ideally have visit the exhibit and attend any accompanying events is up to your group, as the goals of hosting the exhibit may differ from community to community. Here are some tips to help you reach your goal!
First, consider co-sponsors. Co-sponsors can help spread the word about the event information, share costs of hosting the event, help with set up and clean up, and provide refreshments. Don’t be afraid to ask for $25-100 to help cover the costs of hosting if you want – refreshments and copying flyers aren’t free! Often co-sponsoring organizations like to have their name on the flyers and invitations, so ask co-sponsors early.
Some examples of good co-sponsors include libraries, community colleges or high schools, historical societies, youth shelters or service groups, churches and the larger faith community, and domestic and sexual violence service providers. Approaching mainstream organizations is is a great opportunity to broaden your group’s reach!
- HINT: contact local high schools, community colleges, and universities to ask teachers of related subjects (e.g. history, social studies, sociology, ethnic studies, law, anthropology) to encourage students to attend the program or offer extra credit opportunities. This is a great way to bring new voices into the conversation.
Next, consider key people and groups in your community who may endorse the exhibit, such as school administrators, political figures, and active members of the community.
Finally, and most importantly, invite your base! With support from your staff organizer at ROP, compile contact information for your group’s members. Brainstorm personal contacts and active community members to add to the list. Remember: Personal calls and invitations are the most effective way to get people involved. As with all events, fostering relationships with other neighbors and friends is critical to creating strong, supportive communities. A personal invitation is much more enticing than an email, mailer, or phone call from a volunteer working out of Cottage Grove! Also, keep in mind the rule of halves: half the people who commit to coming will actually attend, and typically its even less for people who mark “Going” on Facebook.
Logos & Photos for Promotional Materials
Having trouble seeing the images? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will email them to you separately!
Sample outreach flyers (from a previous traveling exhibit) are on the following two pages. Have you made a flyer for your event? Please share it with us so that we can share it with other host groups!
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Getting Coverage!: Media Planning Guide
Working with the local media is an important skill for organizers to have! Whether you have years of experience or are learning how to work with the local media for the first time, this guide will walk you through some of the basics and provide helpful tips we have learned over the years! ROP is available to talk with your media point person about the best media timeline for your community.
Just as we did above with the event planning timeline, the first step is to create a
- First, brainstorm every media outlet you’d like to reach. The local newspaper(s) and radio stations are obvious, but also consider library newsletters and other community publications. Are there community calendars issued by the Chamber of Commerce or similar organizations?
- Give each media outlet a call to find out what their deadlines are for event announcements and/or press releases. Find out who you should send the materials to; for smaller papers, it is likely the editor, but for larger papers, there might be a special reporter. Would they prefer an email or a printed copy? Some publications require 4 weeks notice, so START EARLY!
- Remember to keep the name of the person you spoke to, their recommendations, their phone number, email address, and any other helpful notes. You may need to contact them again closer to the event, and for future events your group holds!
- This is a great time to start fostering a relationship with your local reporters and newspaper editors. Human dignity leaders across the state have become a local source of news and, in return, have gotten to be the “voice on the street” when reporters wanted to provide the local opinions on various issues in the community. This is a great way to elevate the visibility of your group!
Use the templates to create materials specific to your event.
- Use the included template below to create your press release. Who in your group will talk to the media? Be sure to have that information right at the top. Remember to have someone proofread it before you send it out to make sure the contact information, event location, time, and date are all correct!
Best practices for getting coverage:
- Get those proofread materials out there!
- If you are emailing the materials, it’s best to copy and paste the press release into the body of the message rather than sending it as an attachment. The headline of the press release should also serve as the e-mail’s subject line.
- If you are dropping off a hard copy, ask to see the person it’s supposed to go to. Having a moment to interact, to share a bit of your enthusiasm for the event, does have an impact in whether reporters show up to the event and cover it!
- Respond to press calls promptly. Check your phone messages daily and return calls as soon as you can to ensure you get good coverage. Make sure to track who calls you.
- Several days after you send the press release, call each media outlet to confirm that they received your materials, ask if you can answer any questions, and invite them to come to your event.
- Make sure the local newspapers and community news sources are carrying your event notice. Don’t see it yet? Give them a friendly phone call to remind them!
Day of the event:
- Feel free to give reporters and editors a friendly phone call the morning of the event to remind them that they’re invited to come on down and cover the event.
- At the event, do you see a reporter you know? Make a point to walk up to them and welcome them. Ask if there are any questions you can answer, if you can help them position for a good photo of the event, etc.
- Take your own photos of the event! This is an exciting moment for your group and your community – document it!
After the event:
- You can send a follow-up press release (include a photo!) to the local paper sharing your successful event. Are there next steps (such as a follow-up meeting) you’d like to invite potential members to?
Templates and Further Resources
Sample Email Invitation
Press Release Template
Set-up and take-down instructions
- Receive the exhibit! You should have two duffle bags (under 40 pounds each)
that have the following materials inside:
- 7 metal bases/stands
- 14 “side poles” (long, collapsable metal poles)
- 7 “tops” (short, metal poles with extensions to fit into the side poles)
- 7 fabric sleeves
- Inspect all items for damage when you first open the exhibit. If anything arrives
damaged, please contact us immediately and we will make every effort to
replace it. If anything gets damaged while in your possession, please contact us
- Figure out where you would like each of the panels to be in your space – they are free standing and not connected to one another, so it’s up to you whether they are all next to one another, or set up in a different way that makes more sense for your space and event. You will be able to move the panels once they are assembled, but it will be easier to put the bases where you want them to start. Please note that the panels are about 7 feet tall and just under 3 feet wide.
- Put the first base down on a flat surface.
- Expand two of the long poles and click them into place using the buttons on the inside of the poles. Slide them into the base.
- Use a top pole to connect the two side poles.
- Slide the first fabric sleeve over the frame. It should look something like this!
- Repeat steps 3 through 6 for each of the remaining panels.
- Choose an orientation for the panels that makes sense for your event and the space – do you want both sides to be easily visible, for English and Spanish speakers?
- Stand back and admire your work!