As we close out another year, we invite you to celebrate all that we have accomplished together over the last year. We share a snapshot of successes across rural Oregon below. Thank you to all the courageous rural human dignity leaders that make this work possible. Visit our webpage to make a year-end donation and for more information on how to support organizing in rural communities.
In 2016, Rural Organizing Project reached across boundaries and borders to build our movement for human dignity. When Oregon landed in the national spotlight with the occupation of the Malheur Refuge, we organized locally and nationally in response. We reached outside our state to work with national partners to produce tools for rural organizers all over the country. We reached across county lines, supporting resistance to expansion of the militia and “Patriot” movement in other rural Oregon communities. And we reached across barriers to racial justice, supporting a state-wide rural conversation on racial justice in Oregon. We look forward to building more capacity for resistance and justice in rural Oregon in 2017.
Organizing Locally & Nationally
Communities all over the state jumped into action in support of Harney County: John Day, Burns, Bend, Scappoose
Rural Oregon responds to the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
Rural Oregon was the subject of national conversation during the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January. Paramilitaries and so-called Patriot groups from across the country descended on Harney County despite the impassioned pleas by locals to please leave their community alone. ROP staff and volunteers were on the ground during most of the occupation, meeting with and resourcing local organizers, and sharing information with our statewide network. ROP not only resourced countless journalists who reported on the occupation, but developed a discussion guide and action toolkit with Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) that was used by groups nationwide. We also called for a statewide day of action that dozens of communities across Oregon (and across the country!) participated in, and supported the organizing that led to a 350-person rally on the Harney County Courthouse steps where community members asserted: WE ARE OUR OWN VOICE!
Proactive Statewide Organizing
UP IN ARMS
ROP, in partnership with Political Research Associates, authored and released Up in Arms: A Guide to Oregon’s Patriot Movement, an activist resource toolkit that offers an in-depth exploration of Oregon’s so-called Patriot movement. Up in Arms features years of rural Oregonians’ organizing expertise, tools, and success stories from successful campaigns and interventions made to reclaim their communities. Order today at www.rop.org/up-in-arms/
Beyond Burns: the Growing Patriot Movement in Oregon
With the Patriot Movement eyeing rural Oregon communities beyond Harney County, ROP stepped up to support communities that were already discussing the threat. Over 850 people attended stops on this critical statewide tour, to participate in public discussions on the impact of the Patriot Movement in their communities and how residents can organize around unmet needs in their community to preempt outside interests looking to exploit their vulnerabilities.
Conversations on Racial Justice
More than 550 rural Oregonians participated in “Why Aren’t There More Black People In Oregon?: A Hidden History”, a conversation project led by Walidah Imarisha in the communities of Cave Junction, Cottage Grove, Monmouth, La Grande, Prineville, and Scappoose. Crowds of 65 to over 200 people showed up to explore the legacy of racially exclusionary laws that impact our communities to this day, and brainstormed how to organize for racial justice in their communities.
ROP builds movement power for human dignity and justice in small town and rural Oregon. We support a network of over 50 groups across the state who organize their communities for self-determination, taking action for fairness and democracy.
We connect leaders and groups through collective action to promote inclusive democracy, to organize for racial and economic justice, and stand together for LGBTQ rights and immigrant fairness. We have a 24-year history of organizing toward a vision of rural and small town Oregon becoming a place where all can live their lives fully, in dignity and safety.
Over 50 human dignity groups in our network are building the rural movement for justice for the long haul across our state. A few highlights from local organizing in 2016:
Grant County made headlines in late January when over 70 people gathered to protest a meeting featuring the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupiers. Those protesters formed Grant County Positive Action and their consistent organizing has built up a base of locals who are banding together to oppose the anti-democratic tactics of paramilitary and so-called Patriot groups at every turn, from letters to the editor, to demonstrations, to educational events.
Following the Presidential election results, Racial Justice Eastern Oregon recommitted themselves to advancing a vision of racial justice in Union County. They organized an event in solidarity with Standing Rock and have initiated strategies for building a welcoming community. Their neighbor-to-neighbor conversations are building a network of people committed to a vision of equity and fairness in eastern Oregon.
When militia and so-called Patriot groups became active in their county, local leaders in Baker County formed Panhandle Community Alliance (PCA). PCA’s members and allies successfully communicated with hundreds of voters to expose so-called Patriot group leaders who were running for local offices.
Josephine County’s Rural Organizing Against Racism (ROAR) held a candlelight vigil to remember the Black lives lost to police violence in August. They received immediate backlash over Facebook, including threats of violence. Fifty screaming protesters organized by the Oath Keepers used a bullhorn to call vigil attendees terrorists, but more than 75 community members showed up for the vigil, and stood their ground. They were galvanized by the backlash to demonstrate that Josephine County will not be a place where hateful and racist statements go unanswered. ROAR organized a volunteer peacekeeping team to de-escalate the situation and the vigil went on uninterrupted. Local organizers led the crowd in speaking the names of every Black life lost to police violence this year, stopping every 20 names to say “you are not forgotten” and “Black lives matter”. The event concluded with the crowd taking a pledge to confront racism and injustice and to take action to make the community a better place to live.
We are honored to include these groups in our network:
Baker County People for Human Dignity
Panhandle Community Alliance
Active for Peace & Justice, 1st United Methodist
Committees of Correspondence for Democracy & Socialism
Corvallis Showing Up for Racial Justice
Oregon Community Rights Coalition
Veterans for Peace Ch 132, Linus Pauling Chapter
Corvallis Raging Grannies
Community Action for Racial Equity
Columbia Pacific Alliance for Social Justice
Columbia County Coalition for Human Dignity
Human Rights Advocates of Coos County
Human Dignity Advocates
Building Common Ground
Central Oregon Jobs With Justice
Peace & Justice Team at First Presbyterian Church
Peace & Social Justice Team – Trinity Episcopal Church
PFLAG Central Oregon
Occupy Roseburg Feed the ‘Burg
Grant County Positive Action
Blue Sage Ministries
Building Community Connections
Columbia River Fellowship for Peace
Citizens for Peace and Justice
Lotus Rising Project
Front Porch Group Jefferson County
Grants Pass PFLAG
Rural Organizing Against Racism
Peace Reading Group
Klamath Independent Public Power
Community Rights Lane County
Community Alliance of Lane County / Springfield Alliance for Equality and Respect
Womens Action for New Directions
Blackberry Pie Society
Occupy Cottage Grove
Citizens Democracy Watch
Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women
Immigration & Information Response Team
PFLAG of the Oregon Central Coast
Albany Peace Seekers
Polk Community for Human Equality
Tillamook for Love
CURRENTS of Justice for Peace
Oregon Rural Action
Racial Justice in Eastern Oregon
Peace & Justice Network of Wallowa county
Wasco County Citizens for Human Dignity
West County Council For Human Dignity
Unidos Bridging Community
Thank you to all the courageous human dignity leaders across rural Oregon that make this work possible.
Here’s to a powerful and impactful 2017!
Warmly, Cara, Jess, Grace and the ROP Team