We are excited to announce the keynote speaker for this year’s Rural Caucus & Strategy Session will be rural and small-town organizer Meredith Martin-Moats of the McElroy House: Organization for Cultural Resources in Dardanelle, Arkansas! The 28th annual Rural Caucus & Strategy Session will be Saturday, June 1st in Cottage Grove. Space is limited so reserve your group’s seats – click here register today!
Meredith is the co-founder of the McElroy House: Organization for Cultural Resources, a grassroots, all-volunteer community organization working to find local solutions to local problems based in Dardanelle, Arkansas (population: 4,700). The McElroy House provides meeting space for local organizing, training in “granny skills” (tangible skills like gardening and food preservation that you might learn from your granny), and anything else that its members want to pour energy into, from the diaper bank to the community garden in the front yard. The McElroy House’s work extends far beyond the house’s four walls, partnering with local organizations to build welcoming community in Dardanelle and the rest of Yell County, including Arkansas United to advance immigrant rights, LGBTQ+ groups, and organizations supporting survivors of domestic violence. Folks from all walks of life are welcome to participate at the McElroy House or in its programming elsewhere, as long as they care about their community and want to make it inclusive for everybody. At its core, the McElroy House aims to bring people together to find common ground, which is often uncomfortable, messy, beautiful, and powerful.
Meredith is a researcher, writer, radio producer, oral historian, cultural worker, and caregiver. Her work focuses on re/weaving connections across generations, building and supporting place-based work that is centered in a deep understanding of land and community history, working across divides, situating and elevating caregiving as central to community work, and getting her hands in the dirt. She facilitates and leads workshops on intergenerational, place-based community work, oral history, and has spoken at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, the Rural Arts and Culture Summit in Minnesota, Folks Arts Missouri, and all around Arkansas. When she’s not at the McElroy House, Meredith can usually be found boxing, gardening, hanging out with her three awesome kids, and tending her growing herd of chickens, ducks, and dogs.
Over the last 10 years, the McElroy House has hosted countless events, some of which have raised skepticism from onlookers. For example, last year a discussion about organizing within and between faith communities brought together Methodist ministers, Muslims, and witches in the McElroy House’s living room. At meetings like this, some folks would raise their eyebrows, thinking or saying, “this might get a little tense!” But Meredith and her teammates believe that we must help each other build up our tolerance for discomfort while holding each other accountable in order to find common ground.
We are excited to bring folks together from across rural Oregon and rural Arkansas to share strategies for building the community spaces we need for a just democracy! Human dignity groups across the state are building and defending communty spaces like community centers, libraries, schools, and even bookstores as places where entire communities can access resources, build relationships, and connect with neighbors around shared action. We as rural Oregonians know how vital it is to know where we can find each other to help each other weather a crisis, whether it be climate or political.
We invite you and your group to join us at this year’s Rural Caucus & Strategy Session! Register before May 1st to get the early bird discount!