Drawing inspiration (and strategy) from each other in Central Oregon‏

Dear ROPnetters:

Sometimes the best way to draw inspiration is to look toward each other.  This was very true for the human dignity groups in Central Oregon when groups from all three counties came together for a regional gathering last month on Race, Racial Justice & Immigrant Rights.

Thirty people and eight human dignity groups were represented.  We met on a Saturday morning at the local Latino Community Association’s site in Redmond. Just one month later, we are already seeing results from this ROP facilitated strategy session! From leadership training for Central Oregon’s Latino-led immigrant rights group to a “Building Common Ground” training series on racial justice to strategies for work on driver’s cards and deportations, Central Oregon leaders are building a regional strategy that inspires and builds power!

Below is more information about the gathering and a summary of outcomes.  Read on for inspiration for your group!

The invitation read….
Race, Racial Justice & Immigrants Rights
Building a 2014 Strategy for Central Oregon

We’ll take the time to step back and to map our way forward.  We’ll be addressing:

  • What are our next steps for Immigrant Rights organizing: Driver’s Cards, Immigration Reform, challenging Deportations?
  • How do we build on our work to address hate, expose racism and create a more Welcoming Community for all?
  • Mapping Our Power: How is our Central Oregon movement doing? What are strengths and what ways do we need to grow? What are the roles of our different groups? How can we work together better as allies and immigrants and with a deeper understanding of each other’s perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences in our societies systems, structures, and cultures?

A Summary of Outcomes and Strategy for Central Oregon:

On Saturday, March 1st nearly 30 people representing more than 8 groups from all three counties in Central Oregon gathered together to strategize and develop next steps for our work on immigrant rights and racial justice.

We started our gathering with a go-around to get to know each other in the room. During our Mapping Our Power exercise every group shared more about who they are, what they do and how their work relates to the topics of the day.

Bruce Morris of the Social Justice Center then led the group through a training on institutional racism and privilege & oppression.  After an exercise that truly exposed how racism plays out in places and ways that don’t even seem about race (education, home ownership, engagement with law enforcement and so much more), we spent time learning about institutional racism and then how privilege and oppression play out – some great steps in unlearning racism and building common ground.

ROP lead the group through conversations on some key areas of work for 2014: Drivers Card Campaign, Deportations, Exposing Racism/ Anti-Hate/ Welcoming Communities, and Immigration Reform Strategies on Rep. Walden.  Though we were just able to being the conversation, some great ideas surfaced.

A few of the key themes that rose to the top:

  • We need to continue the work of understanding and challenging institutional racism. This means continuing our learning and providing opportunities for anti-oppression training as well as taking on local work that addresses and exposes racism and hate and promotes racial justice.  All loved Bruce Morris’ training and are excited to support Bruce in these skills!
  • There was a sense of huge commitment to working on the Drivers Card Campaign.  While we will all work to engage voters, we also need to use this as an opportunity to put forward our vision and our values for the community. Oregonians for Immigration Reform will be using this as an opportunity to promote their vision: communities where immigrants feel under attack and will ultimately “self deport.” Let’s use this campaign to define and promote our vision a healthy and welcoming community with justice for all.
  • There was incredible energy to do more work on deportations! Immigrant Family Advocates has done a lot of research and we have the information, so let’s use it.  All were inspired by the Not One More! Campaign that calls on Obama to end deportations by using direct action to block deportation buses from detention centers.  Many of us left wondering: can we do this here?
  • There were an incredible number of ideas on how to expose racism and address hate.  There is a clear need and desire for this work: from workshops and trainings to public events.

As we closed out the meeting, 10 people raised their hands to be a part of the coalition committee that would help move this work forward and coordinate between groups in the region.  All agreed that a full group gathering again in mid-April or May was good timing.  After a shared lunch, and more casual conversation, folks headed home with some new friends, a little more hope in our hearts and a commitment to advance work for justice in 2014 and beyond.

We will be discussing many of the same topics at this year’s Rural Caucus & Strategy Session on Saturday, May 3rd and our Civil Disobedience Training on Sunday, May 4th.  If you haven’t registered yet, do so here.

Would you like to have a similar conversation with your group or with groups in your region? Drop us an email at cara@rop.org and let’s start planning!

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