Defend Democracy: Blackberries & Ballot Measures

We’re just over two weeks away from election day, and this ROPnet is all about how rural Oregonians are having neighbor-to-neighbor conversations about the issues that matter most to our communities! With a global pandemic and threats to a free and fair election ramping up, we know this election season is unlike any other. That’s why we publish the Small Town Actions for a New Democracy (STAND) Election Guide that is written by and for rural Oregonians to cut through the election spin to speak to the heart of what’s at stake (did yours come in the mail yet?). The human dignity groups and rural community leaders across rural and small-town Oregon that make up the Rural Organizing Project have been hard at work, and together we’ve created a whole bunch of resources ready for folks to try out, adapt to their community, and run with! Read on to find radio-ready election resources, the STAND Election Guide for social media, and ROP’s Defend Democracy Toolkit, Hotline, and highlights from the Defend Democracy Strategy Session!

STAND Election Guide: Hitting the Airwaves Near You!

In our special 2020 election edition of Rural Roots Rising, you’ll hear from rural Oregonians about what’s at stake on Oregon’s statewide ballot measures, helpful Public Service Announcements to clear up election disinformation making the rounds, and rural groups sharing their stories about how they’ve successfully organized to make sure candidates prioritize what matters most to their communities! Are you part of a community radio station, or know someone who is? Our Public Service Announcements in English and Spanish are available for anyone to use!

Listen to (and share!) Blackberries and Ballot Measures: 2020 Election Edition, now playing on your local community radio station, at, and anywhere you subscribe to podcasts!

Tune in to hear Pam Reese, an ROP board member and organizer based in Echo, Oregon, and Keyen Singer, a Rural Organizing Fellow and member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation based in Mission, Oregon. They’ll touch on how these ballot measures play a role in addiction recovery, mental health, and fair taxation.

“Measure 110 would decriminalize possession of certain drugs and establish a statewide drug addiction treatment and recovery program funded by the state’s marijuana tax revenue…Personally, for me, it hits close to home. I know when I was 13, and my family was looking for treatment options where my mom felt safe, this made it really difficult to find some places that she could go for me and my siblings. Her treatment center was in another state, and we had to drive far to see her, which was hard for all of us. The cost of getting her there and visiting was a lot. It was worth it to help her. But overall, it should be easier to care for our family members when they need it.” -Keyen Singer, Rural Organizing Fellow

 Leslie Rubenstein and Cathy Bellavita share about Blackberry Pie Society’s powerful work in Cottage Grove as they get creative to make human dignity organizing and politics fun. If you’re inspired by their work of engaging local candidates, we can help you get involved too! Reach out to us at to share your thoughts, and get support for your organizing!

 Listen to Blackberries and Ballot Measures: 2020 Election Edition, now on a community radio station near you or wherever you get your podcasts! Not sure when your local station is playing it? Head to to find out!

 Neighbor-to-Neighbor Conversations on Social Media

The STAND Election Guide for Social Media is now available to help you move the neighbor-to-neighbor conversations to a social media platform near you! The STAND Social Media Guide includes graphics with information about the ballot measures in everyday language, information about voting, and more! We’ve designed the resources for Facebook and Instagram, included captions as a starting place for your group, and a suggested posting calendar to support your group sharing out information with your community.

 Check out the STAND Social Media Guide and tell us what you think! Are these tools useful to your group? Looking for something else? Let us know how we can best support your organizing at!

Rural Oregonians Defend Democracy

 Rural and small-town leaders have been hard at work this election from making sure people know when to vote by mail to make sure your vote is counted (October 27th!), where the local ballot drop boxes are (check here!), and clearing up the disinformation circulating that people who lost their homes to the fire can’t vote (not true!) and that people who were wrongfully evicted are unhoused can’t vote (ALSO not true!).

 The Defend Democracy Toolkit was created by and for rural Oregonians to make every vote count, to track and document any bad actors that are impacting rural people’s access to voting, and to take action addressing disinformation, reporting voter intimidation, and proactively working with your county election officials! The Toolkit includes:

  • A sample letter to county election officials you and/or your group can adapt
  • Ways to make sure your neighbors vote, from caravans to picking up and dropping off your neighbors’ signed and sealed ballots
  • Resources about how to track and document voter intimidation, disinformation, and more
  • Ideas about how to take action! See something, say something… and then organize!

Thursday evening, rural and small-town leaders across the state shared strategies and stories of tools and resources we are using to combat election disinformation, get out the vote, and make sure that everyone who can vote does! Together we learned from one another about how to keep temperatures low and make sure we can all vote in case anyone attempts to intimidate voters at the ballot box! Missed it? Watch the recording here!

Call ROP’s Defend Democracy Hotline

For voting help, to report and get support around dealing with voter intimidation, ballot drop box vandalism, and disinformation, call ROP’s newly launched Defend Democracy Hotline at (541) 714-3257, submit a report online, or email us at! Read the Defend Democracy Toolkit and find more resources at

We’ll continue to add resources and share them on our website at, on our social media, and directly with human dignity groups and leaders throughout Oregon. Stay tuned!

 This moment is rife with uncertainty, nervousness, and fear as we face an election during a global pandemic, recession, and in the wake of catastrophic wildfires that displaced thousands of people. Rural Oregonians pride ourselves on our fierce interdependence and how we show up to help each other out, to break bread together, to celebrate, to grieve, and to do what needs to get done so our communities can survive crisis after crisis. While these current trials are putting our communities to the test, we know that the only way forward is together. We may not be able to predict the future, but we know that when we share strategies together across rural Oregon, we will be better prepared to show up for one another!

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