Hometown Strategies for a Democratic Economy
Albany, OR * April 10th, 2010
Being around the warriors who have taken little ideas to make their communities better and then really having an impact on improving their communities, just gave me that oomph to try to do something. Finding a few people in my area were as blown away as I was with Nancie’s presentation (on Foreclosure Defense) and we all left with the Can and Will Do spirit. I hadn’t felt that for months and I left feeling I can do this little piece that just may change people’s lives for the better. -Rosalie Pedroza, Turner, OR
This year’s Rural Caucus & Strategy Session was a beautiful affair generously hosted by Albany Peace Seekers, with over 130 people, representing human dignity groups in over 26 counties, and an almost electric sense of energy, innovation and possibility.
We’re compiling notes from the day, feedback and reflections from participants, and developing our next steps out of the visioning that happened. For now, here’s a snapshot of the day to whet your appetite…
Our sessions on Hometown Strategies for a Democratic Economy looked at specific ways that we can move forward our dual goals of making sure all of our community members survive this crisis and building our populist movement for a democratic economy. Strategies and questions explored included:
- What is behind the Foreclosure crisis? Strategies for both keeping people in their homes & getting Oregon on the map as a state that is willing to take on the systems that has made losing homes a true crisis in rural & small town families.
- Momentum behind the organizing for an Oregon State Bank and next steps for Move Our Money that goes beyond individuals and considers what’s possible for moving local organizations and municipalities’ funds into credit unions and local banking institutions.
- Opportunities and needs for cross-race community building: how we can work together to create safe and vibrant communities for a changing Oregon – from stopping collaborations between local law enforcement and federal immigration enforcement to a Rural Media Center that persistently disseminates welcoming, family friendly, and diversity-positive messages.
- Strategies for building self reliant communities – what does it mean to be ‘self-reliant’ and also deeply connected with our local and our global community? We looked at a variety of tools for creating resilient communities that not only meet folks’ basic needs but also grow our understanding of why resiliency and community are so essential to our movement for justice right now.
- Local and statewide creative strategies for Food Justice– diving into projects for and barriers to local food production & consumption, with the development of a working team to carry this conversation further.
The day itself was weaved together with a theme of movement building over the long haul. Stephanie Guilloud of Project South kicked off our morning with an analysis of where we are as a movement/s. She illustrated how the local organizing that we do in rural Oregon is connected to work in the South and in Detroit and is so vital to building a strong national movement. A panel then "shined the spotlight" on the state of the movement in their communities in Oregon through stories and reflections that wove together queer organizing, Latino and immigrant action in this next year, strategies for working class people in rural communities, and the challenges that Military Families Speak Out face now that we are so firmly rooted in two wars. A rich theme throughout the day was the ties between our issues and the role of building a movement and a vision for the long haul that weaves this all together.
Perhaps Francisco Lopez, coordinator of CAUSA Immigrant Rights Coalition summed it up best on Saturday when he described the actions they are taking to pressure for DC for Comprehensive Immigration Reform this year. As each action was described (from actions on DeFazio to a meeting with Homeland Security to a May Day celebration), Francisco shared, "… and we’re not going to stop there…"
You can count on that! 2010 is moving us forward – and the members and leaders of the ROP are tackling the tough questions and developing strategic ways to build our movement to respond to the crises today and organize for our hopes for tomorrow. If you would like to be a part of the working groups of any of the above Hometown Strategies shaped at the Caucus, let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information about the ROP 2010 Caucus in Albany:
Keynote Speaker: Stephanie Guilloud