Advancing Democracy in Rural Oregon

2022 has been another monumental year for rural Oregonians and for our democracy. As we begin to wrap up the year, it’s a good time to reflect back on what we’ve been able to accomplish together as more than 70 human dignity groups and thousands of everyday rural Oregonians.For ROP, 2022 included our 30th birthday and with it the opportunity to bring together rural Oregonians to reflect on all of the victories we have been able to accomplish since 1992! Check out the 2022 Annual Report below that highlights what’s possible when we raise our voices together and organize for justice and democracy, and let us know: what are you planning for 2023?

We are grateful to human dignity group leaders who are building strong and resilient rural communities across OregonYou can support our work building the rural movement for democracy and human dignity today by making a donation online at rop.org/donate or by mail at PO Box 664, Cottage Grove, OR 97424!

Rural Organizing Project

2022 Annual Report

Winning Statewide Victories

Group of people sitting around a table eating and smiling at the camera.

Human dignity groups established rural Oregon’s priorities by meeting with and keeping the pressure on Oregon legislators. This year the Oregon Legislature passed several of our priorities, including expanded funding for child care, broadband internet, farmworker overtime, legal representation for immigrants, and much more.

Before the election, groups in every county had neighbor-to-neighbor conversations in English and Spanish about the issues on the ballot using the STAND Election Guide. More than 50 human dignity groups knocked on thousands of doors, made calls, and organized candidate forums and ballot parties.

picture of STAND guide

On June 25th, more than 120 rural Oregonians convened in Redmond for the 31st annual Rural Caucus & Strategy Session, the day after the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade. Together we reflected on the last three years of community building during COVID, built organizing skills, and planned for the year ahead.

We celebrated the work of Human Dignity Award winners: Pendleton Community Action Coalition, Central Oregon Peacekeepers, Indigenous Helpers, Redmond Collective Action, and the Truth to Power Club of Ashland High School. Redmond Collective Action led a reproductive justice demonstration for affordable and accessible healthcare in rural Oregon. The next day, the Rural Organizing Intensive trained more than 50 rural leaders in community organizing and safety and security strategies.

Building Safe & Welcoming Communities

Human dignity groups from Crook to Curry Counties have defended their libraries and schools from attacks on curriculum and attempts to ban books. Redmond Collective Action hosted Let Freedom Read to share free books, food, and crafts while raising funds for the local library. Crook County leaders and groups like PFLAG Central Oregon defended student access to the county library and state-required history and health lessons in schools after both came under attack. Leaders coordinated with their neighbors to gather 157 petition signatures, write letters, and speak before the school board.

sign that says Let Freedom Read

Human dignity leaders in Baker County defeated a resolution that would have committed the county to pay $2,500 to join the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, a fringe organization that encourages law enforcement to choose which federal laws they follow. Baker County leaders spoke to the County Commissioners, testified in meetings, and wrote letters to the editor. The resolution was never brought to a vote.

Local Action, Statewide Impact

More than 40 rural communities took public action for reproductive freedom after Roe vs. Wade was overturned. From Enterprise to Port Orford, new community leaders emerged to lead marches and speak at demonstrations for healthcare, calling attention to the dire need for services here in rural Oregon.

2 people shaking hands

More than 80 Linn and Benton County community members converged for Protecting Democracy: Civics Circuit Training led by the Linn Benton NAACP. Together the community learned more about the core elements of a healthy democracy including local election security, maintaining civil rights, and the roles of elected officials from local experts such as the Oregon Department of Justice and election officers.

Neighbors Showing Up for Neighbors

More than 40 groups in rural Oregon led their communities in crisis response, from running free kitchens to helping neighbors rebuild after storms. In August, the town of Wallowa endured a severe hail storm that damaged homes and cars. Community members boarded up broken windows and rallied resources to make sure neighbors had food, supplies, and medical care. Organizers partnered with the Lostine Presbyterian Church to fundraise for repairs and transportation.

2 individuals packing food boxes

In Cottage Grove, ROP and dozens of partners coordinated a bustling multilingual hub in our Community Building Center that provided thousands of community members with culturally relevant food, vaccine access, and information about local resources. ROP supported Mam-speaking Oregonians to connect with the Oregon Worker Relief Fund, a fund set up by the Oregon Legislature to support migrant workers impacted by COVID.

Bridging Divides, Defending Dignity

Bridging Divides, Defending Dignity: How rural Oregonians have moved democracy forward since 1992! is a traveling bilingual exhibit created by ROP leaders to highlight lessons and inspiration from 30 years of organizing for democracy and human dignity.

Photo of the eight English exhibit panels side by side

The exhibit shares stories starting in 1992 when rural human dignity groups came together to defeat Ballot Measure 9, which would have created second-class citizenship for 2SLGBTQIA+ people. Those groups founded the Rural Organizing Project and we have been swapping strategies and resources to defend democracy ever since.

What is the Rural Organizing Project?

ROP’s mission is to strengthen the skills, resources, and vision of primary leadership in local autonomous human dignity groups with a goal of keeping such groups a vibrant source for a just democracy.

More than 70 human dignity groups and thousands of community leaders worked together to advance democracy in small-town and rural Oregon.

Map of oregon with stars locating human dignity groups
Human Dignity Group
Click here for a complete list of groups.

With hope for 2023,
Jess Campbell, Abelio Carrillo Chales, Sidra Pierson, and Emma Ronai-Durning

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