How do you measure quality of life in your county?‏

January 22nd, 2015

Dear ROPnet,

The Rural Organizing Project was created so rural communities in Oregon could define ourselves, our communities, our realities, and what progressive organizing and analysis should look like in our counties. This stays as true today as it was in 1992.

Recently, ROP sent out an email with a New York Times piece that centered around a study about the livability of rural counties. We received some great starting feedback to that ROPnet challenging how the NYT chose to analyze our communities. Feedback included questions about the stereotypes upheld about rural folks by using “obesity” and “education level” as indicators. What about information on changing income levels? Or the strength of public assistance programs? The impact of low wage jobs? The work situation of part time or seasonal positions and who is filling those jobs? Others remarked on the impact of the ever-shrinking public commons in rural counties, such as access to education through nearby schools and libraries as one example.

Check out the ROPnet below and let us know: what do you think?

How do you measure quality of life in your community? How do we make sure that is inclusive?

What are ways we can push back and create our own definitions of rural community health? One idea is sending letters to the editors that name that NYT article and encourage community dialog around what a livable rural community would look like to us.

Let’s be our own experts. Tell us what you think. This winter and spring, ROP and human dignity groups will be analyzing the State of Our Towns. We’ll be asking questions like, “what would it look like if everyone in your community made a minimum of $15 per hour?” and, “how is race and racism being discussed in your community right now?” What questions would you add to the list?

How do we keep this conversation going?

We will continue to gather responses and feedback through ROPnet, on facebook and while visiting your human dignity group. (If you haven’t scheduled a 2015 visit from ROP yet, send an email to and But before you close your email, take 2 minutes to zip us your immediate reflections and feedback and let us know your thoughts.

My Best, Cara

PS- To get your juices flowing, check out this article and map from Daily Yonder on job levels in rural counties between 2007 and 2014.

January 8th, 2015
Dear ROPnet,

What is the economic reality of living in Oregon’s rural counties? Two recent studies share details on life in rural counties and across Oregon.

The University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center released today the Oregon Workforce Report 2014, The High Cost of Low Wages in Oregon.

New York Times released a report last year, Where Are The Hardest Places to Live in the US?

Here are a few snapshots of rural Oregon from these studies:

– 25 of Oregon’s 36 counties are ranked as either average or “doing worse” in regards to education (percentage of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree), median household income, unemployment rate, disability rate, life expectancy and obesity.

– Public assistance to low-wage workers in Oregon is over $1.7 billion.

– Jobs outside the tri-county metro area are more likely to be part-time, temporary or pay low wages. For example, in Eastern Oregon, 50% of jobs pay under $10/hr and 41% are temporary.

Take a look and check out how your county is fairing. Then, consider how your human dignity group can use this information to educate each other, supporters, community members and leadership in your county. Be sure to let us know back at ROP how your group used this information.

My Best,