As we close out another year, we invite you to reflect on the incredible work of human dignity groups across rural Oregon this past year. Thank you to all the courageous rural human dignity leaders that make this work possible.
In 2018, the 63 human dignity groups and hundreds of leaders that make up the Rural Organizing Project organized for our rural Oregon values: justice and liberty for all. This year we faced threats including skyrocketing white nationalist organizing, the abduction of rural Oregonians by Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE), and ballot measures that threatened democracy. Every rural county in Oregon responded, building people power for justice through neighbor-to-neighbor conversations, knocking on doors, writing letters, marching, and walking out. We are continuously inspired by the unbreakable resolve of rural Oregonians fighting to keep libraries, schools, and fire departments open while making sure their neighbors’ most basic of human needs are met.
RURAL OREGON SAYS NO TO WHITE POWER!
Across Oregon, rural people are building stronger communities to fiercely resist and creatively counter white nationalist organizing.
Earlier this year, an “Aryan-style knife shop” was opened on Cottage Grove’s Main Street by people with known ties to white power gangs and who were convicted for hate crimes. In response, concerned teachers, business owners, and community members formed Cottage Grove Community United (CGCU) and immediately shared information so the entire community could take action! CGCU created “Cottage Grove Community United Against Hate” signs that downtown businesses put in their windows, printed shirts with their logo to send a visible message of unity and to start conversations around town about the community’s values, worked with the school board to formally condemn neo-Nazi activity in Cottage Grove, and hosted a standing room-only community forum on Creating Hate-Free Communities featuring faith leaders from across the county.
Corvallis community members formed Rapid Action Community Response (RACR) after neo-Nazis began interrupting local events. Over the last year, RACR has shown up to peacefully challenge neo-Nazis rallying at Oregon State University for a white nationalist hoping to be re-elected to a student body position, educated their neighbors about local white supremacist activity, and provided watchful hospitality at community events to keep everyone safe.
Small town and rural Oregonians had thousands of conversations about the issues on the ballot with their communities and neighbors at front doors, kitchen tables, and ballot parties.
Groups across the state visited businesses, wrote letters, knocked on doors, made phone calls, held ballot parties, and more to defend Oregon’s 30 year old sanctuary law that prevents the use of local, county, or state resources for federal immigration policy enforcement.
Oregonians delivered over 35,000 STAND Voter Guides with neighbor-to-neighbor conversations in all 36 counties.
DEMANDING AN END TO DETENTION AND DEPORTATION
Leaders from Yamhill, Wasco, Hood River Counties organized the March from Sheridan to NORCOR after it was exposed that ICE was holding parents separated from their children at the border in the Sheridan Federal Correctional Institute, and that ICE continued to have a contract with NORCOR, the Columbia Gorge’s regional jail. Hundreds of rural Oregonians marched from Sheridan to NORCOR, having conversations about Ballot Measure 105 and the impact of local law enforcement collaborating with ICE.
RURAL STUDENTS WALKOUT FOR SAFETY
In the spring, after countless more school shootings, hundreds of young people walked out, sat in, held vigil, and demonstrated in more than 25 rural Oregon schools to start conversations about what safety means. Enduring harassment, threats, and backlash from school administrators, student leaders bravely challenged their peers and their communities to have the hard conversations about how we can keep our young people safe.
RURAL CAUCUS & STRATEGY SESSION
Over 150 rural organizers and community leaders convened in The Dalles for the 27th annual Rural Caucus and Strategy Session! We started off the weekend with a statewide solidarity action outside of NORCOR, the regional public jail, demanding an end to their contract with ICE. Throughout the weekend we shared strategies and tactics across rural and frontier Oregon, trained and workshopped campaigns and organizing skills, and planned for the 2018 election and beyond!
Who are the Rural Organizing Project?
ROP builds movement power for human dignity and justice in small town and rural Oregon. ROP’s heart and soul is our network of 63 all-volunteer, autonomous groups across the state organizing their communities for self-determination.
Thank you to all the courageous human dignity leaders across rural Oregon that make this work possible.Here’s to a powerful and impactful 2019!
Warmly, Cara, Jess, Hannah, Caroline, Rindy, Cathy and the ROP Team