In some ways this notion of Democratic Economy we’re talking about at ROP is all about accountability. Who has the resources and who has control over them? This year at ROP we’re applying this notion to our local communities – at the Caucus, in community Round Tables, in local organizing across the state that advance hometown strategies from community gardens to green jobs and moving our money to credit unions instead of big banks.
But what does Democratic Economy mean for ROP the organization? As a local ROP member who is helping to organize the Round Table on Democratic Economy in Clackamas County said to me this week, "ROP organizes a lot more like how we did things in the 60s and 70s. Many of the organizations I belong to these days only communicate with me to tell me when to call my Senator, they don’t return phone calls, and seem to be all about the staff doing all the work. ROP really relies on local leadership to get things done."
It’s true. ROP doesn’t exist without you. Our staff are here for you to support, train, link, and encourage our collective actions, but the strength of organizing for democracy and human dignity around the state relies on hundreds of unpaid organizers who give thousands of hours because they believe it is the right thing to do, not because they are paid to do it. It’s a strength and a challenge. ROP keeps our budget lean to devote the most resources we can to organizing and limit the amount of time we spend on administration. We rely on volunteers to do everything from managing our email lists and database to car repair and gardening. We are also steadily increasing the percentage of our budget that comes from you. When members and supporters in rural Oregon own ROP instead of a small handful of foundations that may or may not share the same priorities of our membership, ROP is accountable to you. But that asks each of you to take a stake in ROP as your organization – whether as a donor or as a volunteer or as a local leader – or all three!
I’m writing today to ask each of you to consider if you can claim a stake in ROP in one of the following ways:
1. Donate your frequent flyer miles to ROP. We are thrilled to announce that Stephanie Guilloud from Project South in Atlanta will be the keynote speaker at ROP’s Rural Caucus and Strategy Session in Albany on April 10th. Stephanie grew up in Texas before spending nearly a decade in the Northwest where she was a leader in shutting down the WTO in Seattle in 1999. In her time at Project South, Stephanie has worked with local community groups in the South and across the country to build stronger movements that are owned and led by grassroots leaders. In 2007, Stephanie and Project South organized as the anchor group of the first ever US Social Forum. We are so excited to welcome Stephanie to rural Oregon and share movement strategies with one of the most exciting organizations in the US today. But, we’ve got to get her here! If you’ve got frequent flyer miles that we can put towards Stephanie’s ticket from Atlanta, please let me know!
2. Help kick the ROP website up a notch! Wherever you are in the state, if you have an interest in helping keep the online face of ROP fresh and vibrant and have solid computer skills, we can really use your help! You don’t need to be an advanced techno geek (though we’ll love you if you are!) or a professional web designer to get trained and up and running with ROP’s website that runs using drupal, a user friendly content management system. Let us know if you’re interested in taking a turn at the helm of ROP’s website.
3. Become a member of ROP. This year we’ve already increased our local membership by almost half which is a great step towards becoming even more of a grassroots owned organization. But that still means that more than 3/4 of you haven’t joined ROP this year. It’s only $35 per individual or $50 per household. We need you! Please join today by making an easy online donation or mailing your check to PO Box 1350, Scappoose, OR 97056.
Thank you for all the ways that you help ROP advance democracy around the state and in our own backyards!
P.S. Remember that the early bird deadline to register for the Caucus is March 15th – get your discount by registering today!