It’s said that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does often rhyme. 2022 has included countless challenges to inclusive democracy that echo what rural Oregon experienced in 1992: the insistence that we should be scared of our neighbors and that our differences are too great to find common ground. What we knew then, and what we know now, is that our shared rural values of inclusion, human dignity, and democracy for all are not only what unites us, but are what lead us to action. We know that we can live our values of inclusive democracy, and we can make it clear to our neighbors that working together peacefully to create truly safe and welcoming communities for everyone is an option.
For 30 years, ROP has been connecting and building the capacity of local, autonomous human dignity groups across the state so they can continue to lead their communities in action toward the vision of a rural Oregon where everyone can live their lives fully with safety and dignity. In 2022, more than 70 human dignity groups continued that charge despite threats of violence, intimidation campaigns, and manufactured outrage that attempted to pit neighbors against neighbors.
You can support 30 more years of powerful rural organizing today by making a donation online at rop.org/donate or by mail at PO Box 664, Cottage Grove, OR 97424!
From Curry to Wallowa counties and beyond, rural communities mobilized in 2022 to defend public education, public libraries, the safety and integrity of our elections, and more from campaigns that scapegoated queer and trans people, migrants, houseless folks, people of color, and poor people.
In June, ROP convened more than 125 rural and small-town leaders from across the state at our first in-person Rural Caucus & Strategy Session since 2019. Together, we shared strategies and lessons learned from organizing through the overlapping crises of a global pandemic, climate disasters, and economic crashes. We planned for the year to come and built our skills to be able to organize as safely and effectively as possible. Convening just a day after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe, we strategized about how to expand access to comprehensive healthcare for all rural Oregonians and exercised our new and renewed organizing skills at a rally for reproductive rights led by Redmond Collective Action.
ROP and human dignity groups have been building rural power to win statewide legislative victories, pass ballot measures, and affirm a shared belief in the power of inclusive democracy. This election season, we had thousands of conversations with our neighbors about what would be on the ballot. We are still reviewing all the final votes and the final results, but we are grateful that slavery will be permanently removed from the Oregon Constitution and legislators will be banned from running for re-election if they skip out on work.
Human dignity groups have hosted a traveling exhibit featuring the victories of human dignity groups organizing across rural Oregon titled Bridging Divides, Defending Dignity: How rural Oregonians have moved democracy forward since 1992! By lifting up stories of rural organizing, the exhibit creates space for people to connect with each other, share their own memories and experiences of our movement, and strategize together about building the world we want for future generations. Would your group like to host the exhibit?
Whether at school board meetings, emergency shelters from severe weather, or a neighbor’s porch swing, ROP is committed to showing up throughout 2023 and supporting the incredible organizing of groups across the state.
We hope you will join us in celebrating 30 years and supporting our next 30 by making a personally significant donation today. We especially appreciate monthly sustaining donations that we can count on!
It is easy to feel isolated and alone in our rural communities, but we remember that we are part of a living and loving movement for human dignity with all of you, and a movement that grows brighter in the face of adversity. That is something we are inexpressibly grateful for.