Make a donation today to support justice in rural Oregon
December 26th, 2017
Dear members, friends, and supporters of the Rural Organizing Project,
It’s ROP’s 25th anniversary and time to both reflect on all we have accomplished together and get ready for our next quarter century. Today we’re asking you to show up for rural Oregon by making a financial contribution to support our work in 2018 and beyond.
We began the year, like you, in the streets. We were proud to take part in the largest global demonstration ever, and even more proud that rural Oregonians showed up in record-breaking numbers in town after town. We salute the spirit of resistance that has helped guide all of us in this challenging year.
As this chaotic year winds down, let’s take a minute to celebrate the extraordinary organizing that has followed, from the formation of rural rapid response networks to the passing of Inclusion Ordinances around the state. We celebrate all of you, especially our new human dignity groups across the state, from Lake to Clatsop Counties.
Still, we can’t ignore the reality around us. Oregon topped the national charts for most hate crimes per capita—a shameful statistic we hope is never repeated. Our phones rang off the hook with requests for support this year when communities saw their neighbors being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents or when a community member was targeted for being an immigrant, or Muslim, or Black, or queer. Our rural communities have been ripped apart by the surge of anti-immigrant rhetoric and actions coming from the White House. Many immigrants do not feel safe leaving the house to buy groceries, or sending their children to school, or even going to their own asylum hearings, because ICE has learned to pick them up in grocery stores, schools and courthouse corridors. Vigilante violence has skyrocketed, with militia and neo-Nazi and other far-right groups emboldened by Trump’s attitude and words. Those who stood up to them were often threatened, sometimes violently.
This is part of a national trend, but in rural Oregon where our community infrastructure has collapsed, this climate feels especially dire. In some communities, we can’t even rely on basic services like calling 911 to bring safety or relief, or access to a public library and all of the resources it brings with it.
Yet, despite these threats, rural people are courageously showing up for their neighbors in inspiring ways. Every day Oregonians come together in defense of those under most threat: immigrants, LGBTQ folks, public assistance recipients, people of color. Local groups have taken on their public jails for renting beds out to ICE. Educators, elected officials and business owners have launched Welcoming Community campaigns. Groups are learning de-escalation techniques, and how to protect themselves and others who have been targeted. Our Know Your Rights workshops for immigrants and Know Your Roles workshops for documented allies provide rural groups tools and resources to respond to local ICE activity. We’ve supported groups in incorporating rapid response strategies into their organizing, both to tend to immigrants’ immediate daily needs—rides to the grocery store or accompanying people to the local courthouse—and also to mobilize for changing the bigger picture: fighting anti-immigrant ballot measures, getting ICE out of our public jails, protecting Oregon’s status as a sanctuary state and organizing actions in support of DACA and a clean Dream Act. ROP connects these local groups to each other, through newsletters and conference calls and in-person meetings. Think of it: seventy local, all-volunteer human dignity groups in rural towns, united to build a democratic and inclusive future for rural Oregon. Some are new, some are long term, and all are fiercely determined to elevate a rural politics of justice, compassion, and human dignity over one of scarcity, isolation, and exclusion. This is powerful. This is how we build power.
We are celebrating our 25th year this year and it is clear to us that our work has never been as important as it is right now. ROP has also had the opportunity to expand our staff capacity, adding two talented and committed staff to our organizing team to match the momentum of organizers across rural Oregon. We have created a model of community leadership that transcends the cynicism and division of the current political moment. Our model of local organizing supports the growth of local organizations working for meaningful, long-term change and sustainability. It links neighbors to each other to tackle the difficult questions that come when people don’t feel secure. It links communities to each other so they can work on issues bigger than one town or county. It’s nimble enough to pivot as new crises and opportunities arise. Because our model is working, organizations and leaders around the country are looking to us for leadership on how to respond to the emboldened far-right. We’ve had calls from groups in 37 states since the election, asking how we do what we do. We’ve worked with organizers from rural Kentucky to rural Washington. We are very proud to be part of a national movement of rural leadership.
You should be proud too, because we are in this together. We have all shown up in critical and inspiring ways with and for each other this year. Today we’re asking you to show up for rural Oregon by making a financial contribution. By giving, you allow us to support, coordinate, and inspire hundreds of rural leaders.
In our 25th year, with your help, we fought the policies of the Trump administration, we organized against ICE agents detaining our neighbors, and we rallied against the far right taking hold of our communities. We expanded our network and our organizing staff. As we look ahead to next year and the next 25, we have so much to do. These are troubling times. Please honor our anniversary with a gift that is meaningful for you, as we continue to build a powerful and resilient movement in rural Oregon. You can make a donation on our website or send a check to ROP at PO Box 664 Cottage Grove, OR 97424.
Jessica Campbell & Cara Shufelt
On Behalf of the ROP Staff and Board of Directors