Bridging Divides, Defending Dignity: How rural Oregonians have moved democracy forward since 1992! is a traveling exhibit that highlights powerful organizing from the last 30 years in rural Oregon. This page includes information about how your group can host the exhibit in your community to kick-start a conversation about organizing for human dignity and democracy in small-town and rural Oregon. Hosting the exhibit 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! Read on for more information about how to host and the ways ROP can support you in bringing the exhibit to your community, as well as how the exhibit was created and what stories it tells!
What is the exhibit and how was it created?
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 spoke with hundreds of current and historic community leaders and organizers around the state about the ways we have learned and grown over the past 30 years of powerful rural organizing. The result became this traveling exhibit, Bridging Divides, Defending Dignity, that human dignity groups can use to spark community conversations about local organizing.
Bridging Divides, Defending Dignity consists of eight free-standing panels that share stories of powerful rural organizing, from defeating Ballot Measure 9 to saving hundreds of rural post offices from closure, and taking action in defense of Black Lives in every corner of the state. The exhibit design was specifically created to be easily set up at the ends of library bookshelves, in a community center or grange hall, or out on a park path. The panels are double-sided, with Spanish on one side and English on the other.
The stories in the exhibit can’t possibly capture all that we’ve accomplished in the last 30 years, so ROP movement elders selected a collection of stories that represent the wide range of issues groups have worked on and that represent communities across the state. We know there are so many powerful stories and details that didn’t make it onto these panels and are so important to share. Some groups that are planning to host the exhibit are making their own panel to add to the narrative. What campaigns, photos, and moments do you want to celebrate and reflect on from your group or community?
How to host the exhibit
What would it look like to bring this powerful movement history to your community? How could hosting the exhibit support your group in strategizing around the world we can build for future generations? 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.
You can check out the full host guide here to start deciding when and how to host Bridging Divides, Defending Dignity. The guide includes suggestions for events you could host alongside the exhibit, a planning timeline, and ideas about how to reach new people by engaging your local newspapers, radio stations, and TV news stations! Are you ready to host and want to get a date on the calendar, or do you have questions that aren’t answered here? Contact your local ROP organizer or email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know and we will continue updating the host guide based on what your team needs.