Connecting the Dots

What a year it has been!  We have seen an explosion of community organizing from Occupy to post offices to the election.  We have been busy on the road connecting with and supporting ROP leaders who have been buildling this movement for human dignity for years, meeting dozens of new community organizers, and rekindling relationships with activists who have recently come out of retirement.

Our most important work endures: connecting the dots.  Check out how ROP has been connecting communities, issues, and struggles in our Annual Report below!

Despite the many facets of our work, from Selma to Halfway, we are uniting to build our movement for human dignity.  It is this interconnectedness and this momentum that inspires me most.  With both under our collective belts, 2013 is looking like it is going to be another incredible year.

Thank you for making 2012 so vibrant!

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We are human dignity groups and leaders in all of Oregon’s 36 counties carrying forward a vision for democracy, justice and human dignity.

At the beginning of 2012, we were over 50 rural human dignity groups strong and over 40 of Oregon’s small towns had an Occupy presence.  Resistance was alive and strong as small town Oregonians took inspiration from people rising up across the country and the globe.

In May, we gathered together – rural occupiers, immigrant leaders, human dignity activists and farmworkers – over 150 people convened for the Rural Caucus & Strategy Session. At the PCUN Farmworker Hall in Woodburn, we spent 3 days sharing our stories, learning movement history from some of our great homegrown visionaries and building on the inspiration of the past year to chart a path forward together.

Then we went home and organized.  We resisted post office closures and stood up for our small town commons.  We challenged the collaborations between local law enforcement and Immigration and Customs Enforcement that are dividing our communities and tearing families apart. We reached out to thousands of voters, inspiring them to demand real democracy during this election cycle.

2012 was a year of huge collective impact as well as unique and strategic local organizing in small town Oregon.  In 2012 we expanded our movement, brought in new leaders, new communities and new friends into the fold of ongoing work of human dignity groups.

This brochure could never capture all of this past year’s stories and successes.  Rather, it is a snapshot of a much larger narrative where hundreds of volunteer rural organizers and thousands of supporters across Oregon innovate and experiment, organize and inspire and ultimately lead a rural movement for justice, democracy and human dignity.

Safe & Welcoming Communities

As Oregon’s demographics shift, so does the work of Human Dignity Groups to support our communities in embracing these changes. In 2012, we held 26 events promoting a safe and welcoming approach to immigration, reaching over 800 people.

We partnered with member groups Immigrant Family Advocates and Unidos Bridging Community to launch a statewide tour ofBorderless Stories, an exhibit and ‘zine combination that tells the stories of 10 immigrant families living in small town Oregon.  The exhibit reached communities at the heart level, opening a human window to the immigrant experience as teachers brought their classrooms and librarians pitched in to bring the exhibit to town.  The exhibit is an entry point to a tough conversation about immigration and the ways our communities are changing.

This spring, our 2nd Annual Rural Latino Retreat brought together 50 leaders from a dozen counties, and in the fall our ROP Latino Advisory Board gathered to weigh in on long-range vision. Our strategic planning process is strengthening our commitment to organizing together across races and building a cross-issue movement that leaves no one behind.

Our STAND Voter Guide was published for the first time “En Español,” and featured articles about Latino power, myths of citizenship and how to be involved even if you can’t vote. ROP members distributed 8000 Spanish guides in 28 counties around the state.

Organizing for Economic Justice

As rural Occupies formed, ROP got to work traveling the state providing resources for folks new to economic justice, general assemblies, consensus decision- making and working with an in-flux of brand new organizers. We held 15 Occupy Rural Oregon Strategy Sessions to turn this boom moment into a long- term movement-building step toward justice for rural Oregon.  Our Resources for Small Town Occupations toolkit reached thousands nationwide and served as a handbook for new and experienced organizers alike.

In December, the country had its first occupation of a Congressional District when five communities simultaneously “Occupied Walden” demanding Congress- man Walden represent Main Street, not the interests of Wall Street.

ROP convened representatives of over 25 rural Occupations at our Occupy Rural Oregon Breakfast at the Rural Caucus and Strategy Session. Participants shared their deep passion for justice, connected to each other to break rural isolation and shared innovative ideas for building alternative community infrastructure.

Rural Occupiers and Human Dignity Leaders organized for economic justice on their home fronts – passing resolutions to overturn corporate personhood (Baker City, Newport and others!), fighting privatization of schools (Occupy Cottage Grove) and using the election cycle to engage voters in conversations about corporate domination over our political system.

Reclaiming Our Democracy

Every election cycle, rural and small town Oregonians use ROP’s STAND Voter Guide to engage our neighbors in a two-way conversation.  The 2012 STAND Voter Guide was personally delivered to 45,000 people, sharing analysis on the ballot and going one step further – engaging voters in a conversation with a featured article on what it will take to get money out of politics and reclaim our democracy.

In a year when millions were being kicked out of the voting process, ROP leaders used a strategy to reach communities less likely to vote – distributing thousands of Spanish STAND Election Guides and making  hundreds of courtesy calls to the “Rising American Electorate” voters, focusing on those in some of the most isolated communities.

Post Office Preservation

With the continued closure of rural community institutions and the privatization of community services, ROP worked with some of the smallest towns in Oregon to challenge the closing and cuts to their rural post office.

On Dec. 19th, 2011, the busiest day of the year for post offices, 23 communities – some of the smallest in Oregon – Occupied their Post Offices to rally against closure. A month later, 1800+ petition signatures from across the state were hand delivered to every federal legislator. Testimony submitted with these petitions from Tiller and Juntura’s lead organizers were read aloud on the Senate floor by Senator Jeff Merkley.

In the fall, the Postal Road Warrior Tour hit the road, visiting a dozen rural communities and each of Oregon’s four mail sorting facilities to educate and rally local activists. ROP organizers have been criss-crossing rural Oregon to help communities organize to defend our US Postal Service as a public good.

90 of the 124 communities impacted by cuts have been called by a team of passionate volunteers and given copies of theOrganizing to Save Our Post Offices toolkit. 39 of those communities are organizing in response to hour and living-wage job cuts and the toolkit is being used as a resource across the country.  Post office organizing is opening up a larger conversation on the impacts of gutting basic community infrastructure and what we need to do to keep our small town communities viable.

Human Dignity Groups of ROP

The member groups of ROP tell a story about the range of groups that ROP works with and the role we play in connecting issues, connecting people across communities and building statewide power in all 36 of Oregon’s counties to shape policy, impact elections and build just communities.  

BAKER: Concerned Citizens of Baker BENTON: Active for Peace & Justice of 1st United Methodist, Alternatives to War, Veterans for Peace Chapter 132, Benton County Community Rights Coalition CLATSOP: Columbia Pacific Alliance for Social Justice COLUMBIA: Columbia County Citizens for Human Dignity, Latinos Unidos para un Futuro Mejor COOS: Womyn in Black, Human Rights Advocates of Coos County CROOK: Human Dignity Advocates DESCHUTES: Immigrant Family Advocates, Human Dignity Coalition, PFLAG Central Oregon, Central Oregon Jobs With Justice DOUGLAS: Douglas County Community Projects/Occupy Roseburg GRANT & HARNEY: Blue Sage Ministries HOOD RIVER: Columbia River Fellowship for Peace JACKSON: Citizens for Peace & Justice, Project REconomy, Peace House, Lotus Rising Project JEFFERSON: Front Porch Group JOSEPHINE: Illinois Valley Pesticide Awareness Coalition KLAMATH: Klamath Basin LAMBDAs, Peace Reading Group, Occupy Klamath LAKE: Outback Voices LANE: Community Alliance of Lane County, Deadwood Community, Blackberry Pie Society, Citizens Democracy Watch, Swisshome Heartbeat, Standing Together to Outlaw Pesticides, Occupy Cottage Grove LINCOLN: PFLAG of the Oregon Central Coast, Coastal Progressives, Centro de Ayuda, Immigration and Information Response Team LINN: Albany Peace Seekers MARION: People’s Alliance for Livability in the Santiam Valley POLK: Polk Café Commons TILLAMOOK: Tillamook County Citizens for Human Dignity UMATILLA: Umatilla Morrow Alternatives UNION: Oregon Rural Action WALLOWA: Occupy Wall Street – Wallowa County WASCO: Wasco County Citizens for Human Dignity WASHINGTON: West County Council for Human Dignity YAMHILL: Yamhill Valley PeaceMakers, Mujeres Latinas Luchando por el Pueblo, Unidos Bridging Community

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