We Are Hope. We Are Accountability.

Can you invest in hope? Support rural justice by making a gift to ROP today.

December 11th, 2012

Dear Friends of Rural Organizing Project,

I wrote last year’s annual letter when Occupy Wall Street was at its peak and the Arab Spring captivated the world. Headlines were flooded with stories of people standing up against injustice and making their voices heard. Small towns across Oregon led their own creative Occupations in town after town. ROP played a key role in linking rural activists around the state and making Oregon the most Occupied rural area in the country!

Then came intense police crack down. Mainstream media’s “romance” with Occupy faded and the Presidential campaign took over the headlines.  Our national dialogue shifted from organizing in response to real crises of everyday people to manufactured conversation centered on rolling back rights for women, “self-deportation” and “entitlement programs,” meanwhile ignoring the growing signs of climate crisis.

Despite all the election year distractions, the seeds of Occupy and the 99% took root in neighborhoods and continued to sprout up in the real conversations people have around the dinner table. As Election Day neared, we held our breath.

Instead of voter suppression, we saw voter determination. The country sent a powerful message – we are creating push back to the Right Wing. The oceans of money unleashed by Citizens United had minimal impact. Election results were the pay-off of the constant political education done by Occupy and the ongoing work of organizations like ROP.

On November 6th, we affirmed that our resistance strategies matter. The message of the 99% endures and we are making progress toward a mass movement that can have great implications. This is exciting. It’s a populist movement leaning left for now, and it is our job to build the relationships that motivate fed up people on Election Day to act for broader justice over the long haul.

Even with movement victories on election night, it’s not in the nature of a split Congress or politicians beholden to campaign donors to provide the brave solutions we need for our crises of today and those to come. Hope lies in the work that ordinary people do to create change in our communities, to organize voters to go to the polls despite seven hour lines, to be the first to respond after a devastating storm strikes (thank you Occupy Sandy!). We are hope. We are accountability.

When asked why I do this work, I don’t tell people I believe if we make enough phone calls, we can hold Congress accountable or that if we hold enough protests, we can decrease the military budget and end the cycle of permanent war.  I don’t even tell people about the 45,000 rural voters we collectively delivered STAND Voter Guides to, or the progressive tax measure rural Oregonians helped pass, or the most recent Welcoming Resolution in small town Oregon, though these are most certainly victories to be proud of and celebrate.

I do this work because I can’t live in this world if I don’t know who I can turn to when the next crisis hits – when another war begins, when the bottom of the economy falls out, when we need to figure out how to live on our planet with a very new climate. Our globe is changing and our communities are changing. The work of ROP and human dignity groups is about finding each other, one-by-one, so we can ensure our families, our neighbors and our communities not only survive these difficult times, but grow and thrive, leaving no one behind.  Hope lies in the work that we, ordinary people, do to change our communities, this country and ultimately, the globe.

With that in mind, this year’s Rural Caucus & Strategy Session was all about finding each other.  Farmworkers and human dignity activists, immigrant leaders and small town Occupiers came together, shared stories and renewed our commitment to building a people’s movement where no one is left behind.  As Jennifer Turner of Occupy Klamath shared,

“I’ve found my home in activism. I’ve found my family. I’ve found my fore-bearers, Ramon Ramirez and Marcy Westerling. I’ve learned our history. I’ve been adopted with open arms… I witnessed the pride and values of people that share struggle and unbreakable bonds. I walked your streets and reveled in the community I found. ROP and PCUN showed me how the Latino community and the LGBTQ community found commonality in the shared value of human rights. We’re all people (not personhoods)!”

Finding and supporting each other for the long haul, fostering dialogue across cultural differences, creating space for small town human dignity leaders to do great things – these things are hard to quantify.  Foundations speak a different language and that is why we turn to you, the supporters and friends of ROP, to keep this organization, this movement going.

Your support means we do not have to shape our work based on what big funders decide is the hottest trend. Thanks to your support we get to do the work that lasts, build the trust and the shared history that pays dividends down the long road of our struggle.  We get to be a little different; we get to create a family of activists that can count on each other when it really matters.

Can you invest in us?  Can you invest in hope?  Can you invest in people like yourself working to change themselves, their communities and this country?  Whether it’s $5, $500 or $5000 it all makes a difference – it allows us to keep our organizers paid a living wage, our little house functioning and our donated car on the road. Donate with a credit card online or send a check to: ROP PO Box 1350 Scappoose, OR 97056.

The best way to support the work of ROP, and through us the work of human dignity groups around the state, is to provide an on-going monthly donation.  Being a monthly sustainer means ROP has a steady flow of income on a regular basis.  It’s easy to set up.  Filling out a short form is all it takes. We do the rest. Download the form here. Or sign up to be a sustainer with your credit card here.

If you can’t become a sustainer, please make a one-time donation of any size.  Your support allows ROP and the human dignity network of rural Oregon to flourish.  

We are all in this together, here on the right side of history.  You are our hope.  Thank you.

Cara Shufelt, Director

On behalf of the staff and Board of Directors of the Rural Organizing Project

PS: Please enjoy our 2012 annual report that gives you a sense of all that we accomplished together over this past year.