Finding Inspiration

November 20th, 2014

Dear ROPnet,

Over the last few weeks, ROP staff have been on the road and in communities, meeting with human dignity groups, debriefing the election and building strategies and ideas for moving forward in 2015. We have been taking time to talk about what we are seeing in our communities, what we are proud of over the last months and putting this election moment into perspective for the long haul.

As human dignity leaders committed to building a grassroots movement for justice, we find our hope and our inspiration not from who lands in Congress, but from groups of ordinary people unifying to do extraordinary things collectively.

Here are a few stories from recent visits around the state that give us inspiration:

In Tillamook County, after Walidah’s presentation “Why Aren’t There More Black People in Oregon?”, an incredible group of folks who have come together with support of the Women’s Resource Center, to consider what can be done to make Tillamook County healthy, vibrant, safe, and welcoming to all. As a first step, this newly formed group (which still doesn’t have a name – it’s that new!) is working on a Welcoming Resolution to pass at the local level, declaring that Tillamook County is safe and welcoming for all. These savvy folks know that a resolution isn’t all that it takes to make Tillamook County a great place for everyone to live — the resolution is a strategy that allows for relationships to be built with community leadership, from the police to the Grange, and to open up the deeper conversation about what we all need to do better in the years to come.

In addition to this work, there is also a new group formed in Tillamook County focused on meeting the needs of the growing immigrant community in their county. Centro Latino brings together Latin@ leadership and supportive community members to build a group that connects the local Latin@ community to needed resources and to build a vision of a more inclusive Tillamook County.

Clatsop, Deschutes, Josephine and Jackson Counties have all been building off of the momentum and energy created from the fall tour of “Why Aren’t There More Black People in Oregon?: A Hidden History” by Walidah Imarisha with follow up strategy meetings. Most recently, each county hosted a training with Ahjamu Umi on “Racism 101: The Real Story” that digs into the concept of racism. Participants analyzed racism on several levels, not just interpersonal (one person saying something racist to another person), but also identifying the way institutions and structures themselves disadvantage people of color and advantage white folks. Each event brought in double the amount of expected attendees and left participants energized and ready for next steps!

Today, leaders will be gathering in Central Oregon to evaluate their work on the driver card, including their big pushes to register and engage voters. Person by person, Central Oregon leaders have been changing hearts and minds and building a movement across all three counties for human dignity, immigrant rights and racial justice. Today’s gathering will not only start to map out next steps, but will also be a “watch party” for Obama’s announcement on immigration that will happen around 5PM tonight. They are ready to party – and plan! – for what this will mean for their local movement.

Where are you finding inspiration? What is happening in your community? Share your stories with us and ROP will share them via ROPnet and Facebook. Stayed tuned over the next month for more stories of ways ordinary people are coming together to do extraordinary things across small town Oregon!

Cara & Jessica