KTA: Democracy Education for All

Background: Kitchen Table Activism (KTA) is a monthly activity by the Rural Organizing Project. The idea is that small actions can lead to powerful collective results when groups of people gather to complete the same action across the state of Oregon. ROP works to keep each KTA easily achievable so that groups with other projects or groups with limited immediate energy can still complete the KTA each month.

WHY THIS ACTIVITY?

One of the biggest issues facing rural Oregon is the erosion of trust in local government and in democracy itself. To protect democracy and bring new people into the movement for dignity and justice, we must do more than tell people what to vote on and when. This month’s activity is to assess what democracy education opportunities are already happening in your area and figure out where your group can best support these efforts in the coming year. 

A crowd of people mingle around tables at an outdoor event.

WHAT IS THE ACTIVITY?

Last year, the Linn Benton NAACP, a volunteer-run human dignity group, wanted to create educational opportunities about democracy with two goals in mind: (1) to expose community members to principles that are important for a democratic government to thrive, and (2) to motivate people to become active in protecting democracy.

They decided to make it a fun, social event, and called it a “civics circuit training,” setting it up with stations that people rotated through, alongside food and music. This year at the Rural Caucus and Strategy Session, human dignity leaders peppered the event organizers with questions about how to take on a similar project in their community. So, we worked with Susan, one of the volunteer leaders from the Linn Benton NAACP to put this toolkit together based on what they learned! 

HOW TO COMPLETE THE ACTIVITY:

1. Gather your human dignity group together. Back-to-school season is a great time to reconvene if you’ve scattered to the wind this summer!

2. Review the NEW! Protecting Democracy: Civics Circuit Training Guide, put together by Susan Leonard, who helped organize a Protecting Democracy event in Benton County in 2022. The event was free and open to the public, and brought in 80 community members to enjoy music, food, and educational stations with experts who spoke on topics including local election security; misinformation, propaganda, and fake news; candidacy 101; and more! 

3. Reach out to your county clerk to see what sort of election education they have in store for the coming year. Jefferson County’s Clerk is working with Madras High School to show all the students how their ballot counting machines work and run a mock election with the whole high school in early 2024. Is your clerk planning something similar? Are they interested in collaborating with your group on something different?

4. Make a plan for how democracy education fits into your group’s organizing in the lead-up to the 2024 election:

  • Do you want to host a Protect Democracy: Civics Circuit Training? 
  • Are you doing voter registration alongside mutual aid work?
  • Will you share tools on how to counter misinformation while knocking on doors for the primary election in May?
  • All of the above?

5. Tell us about your plans! Email sidra@rop.org to share your updates, and don’t hesitate to reach out for support if you’re feeling stuck! 

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