Feeding our Democracy: in 2 Acts

Here are a couple of opportunities to participate in building that democractic economy we keep talking about. First – some information about why to vote yes on Measures 68 & 69, then scroll down for an important action on the Food Safety Bill that is being discussed in the Senate.


Your ballot will go out in the mail TODAY for the May 18th election – and whatever you do, don’t throw it away! On the contrary, as you puzzle through all kinds of candidate profiles, also be sure to vote YES on Measures 68 & 69. I know it seems like a lot of elections lately, but there’s good stuff in these two for rural Oregon, and your voice counts.

So here’s the scoop:
Measure 68 supports public schools, especially in small districts and rural areas
, by giving the state the option to match dollars for local school districts that are issuing their own bonds for construction projects.

For example, over 50 schools on the Oregon coast need to be relocated to move them out of the tsunami zone, and schools in Northwestern and Southern Oregon struggle with black mold. With their relatively small tax base, it will be hard for these districts to raise enough money on their own to make changes that are needed for schools to be safe places for kids. This measure allows local tax dollars to go twice the distance in meeting our education needs.

Second, Measure 69 supports Oregon’s 17 public community colleges and 7 public universities. 69 will make sure these colleges and universities can expand when needed by using low-cost bonds to purchase and reuse existing buildings. Right now this kind of bond can only be used to purchase buildings that are new.

Every dollar saved by reusing existing buildings stays with the local public colleges and universities to be used for student education and to retain the jobs that employ nearly 50,000 people in Oregon.

These measures are good news for some of the best common good institutions that exist in rural and small-town Oregon! So take the time to fill out and return your ballot as soon as you get it in the mail – and encourage everybody you know to vote YES on both of these measures. For more information about them, go to http://www.yeson68and69.com/


In other news … here is an important action that you can take to support food justice. As we build our vision for a Democratic Economy, ROP members and human dignity groups are calling for just food systems and access to quality, healthy food for everybody. Groups are using hometown strategies to make sure that local food justice work crosses race and class lines and brings power back down to the people, and away from exploitative food corporations! This week, we want to make sure you’re aware of this important moment to act nationally on behalf of food access and justice. It will take you 5 minutes, and then you can get back to building our people’s economy from the inside out.

ROP is teaming up with our allies at member group Oregon Rural Action to put the call out far and wide about an important amendment to the Federal Food Safety Modernization Act. As ORA puts it,

All of the well-publicized incidents of contamination in recent years – whether in spinach, peppers, or peanuts – occurred in industrialized food supply chains that span national and even international boundaries. The food safety problems in this system can and should be addressed without harming the local food systems that provide an alternative for consumers. (more info here)

The bill could come to a vote any day now. Our Oregon Senators Merkley and Wyden are movable, but haven’t understood yet the importance of passing the Tester Amendment, which would protect local food processors and farms while keeping consumers safer from contaminated food. Go here for contact info to write a message or call our Senators.

It’s easy, use this message, or write your own:
I’m writing to ask you to support Senator Tester’s amendment to Senate Bill 510, the Food Safety Modernization Action. This amendment recognizes that direct-marketing farms and small, local processing facilities already provide safe and healthy food, and would exempt them from some of the more expensive elements of the bill, keeping our local food systems strong and growing. As an Oregonian, I believe that local food systems are key to building a more democratic economy that keeps power where it belongs, in the hands of the majority.

Drop us a line to let us know how it goes, and contact cara@rop.org if you want be a part of setting the agenda for ROP’s food justice work.

And may you eat well.