Love Letter to our Member Groups

This past week, I went to see the film 9500 Liberty with my coworker Kari Koch, ROP board member Steve Milligan, and a few other friends. The film tells the story of Prince Williams County, Virginia – and a painful political moment that arose when a local group decided to pass an Arizona-style law legalizing racial profiling.

It took months for that community to organize and give voice to the majority who wanted to live in a peaceful, inclusive community.

Their democracy was weak, and had to be rebuilt in order to confront a nationally-coordinated attack from the radical right that had gained a hold on the local levers of power.

The story of Prince Williams County is a story of these times, and of why ROP exists: to build local infrastructure through groups that can defend and expand democracy and human dignity in their communities.  And we want you to be a part of our movement.

The ROP network of human dignity groups stands out as a model for organizing in these times.  Our model has been featured recently in national publications: The Daily Kos and In these Times, and was the basis for founder Marcy Westerling’s fellowship work with the Open Society Institute – laying the groundwork to build similar progressive infrastructure in four other states.

ROP Mission Statement: Our mission is to strengthen the skills, resources, and vision of primary leadership in local autonomous human dignity groups with a goal of keeping such groups a vibrant source for a just democracy.

The primary benefit of being a member group of the Rural Organizing Project is that you unite your voice with ours – you send the message to our legislators, to radical right-wing think tanks in Washington D.C., to neighbors, that there is a movement for justice and human dignity alive in Oregon committed to peace & justice, to nurturing and protecting our democracy.  You also send a message to every queer youth, every immigrant, every person confronting oppression and bigotry in their hometown, that there is support for them, and that they do belong right at home, in rural Oregon.

That is why we are asking your group to renew it’s membership with ROP.  Annual dues remain at just $50/ a year.

Once you’re linked in to our movement, we want you to succeed, and believe that by joining forces we make each other stronger.  Some of the ways that we take this commitment seriously are…

Strategic Thinking and Capacity Support: When you unite with ROP, we want your group to be powerful, to grow, and be on the front end of promoting progressive values in a changing political climate.  In order to do this, we meet you where you are, and help to diagnose and address the needs of your group.  If you are a member group, we support you in setting up and maintaining capacity systems like a listserv, database, website – and also in thinking through strategies to build up your leadership team, make an action plan for the group, and reach more potential supporters in your community.

Tours:  Member groups get first pick to host stops of statewide tours that ROP coordinates.  Right now member groups in over a dozen communities are gearing up for the August/September No Soy El Army Bilingual Peace tour and a later tour with Joe Wilson, director of the documentary Out in the Silence, a brilliant film which discusses the reality of living out and queer in rural America.

Organizing support on crucial issues: ROP works hard to stay on top of the most exciting opportunities for creating the world of peace & justice we want to live in, and to address threats to our democracy and human dignity.  We get constant feedback from the ROP membership and from national & state allies, and find ways to connect local issues and organizing to that larger movement happening in our state and world.  This has led us to take a lead role on immigrant fairness, queer rights, building a democratic economy, and promoting peace at home and abroad . . . and support our member groups in acting locally and speaking with a united voice.  Every month, your faithful organizers are on the road visiting communities to help facilitate dialogues that bring this analysis to your community and weave the web that will keep us united as one movement.

Decisionmaking power and linking you with peer groups statewide: When you’re a member group of ROP, you have weight in deciding the priorities of our organization.  There is a diverse year-round conversation that links you with ROP central & with other member groups through conference calls, in-person visits, email groups.  Our Rural Caucus and Strategy Session is our annual gathering of all member groups to share skills and stories, vote on our board slate, and network with other human dignity supporters throughout the state.

Your support as a member group of ROP also demonstrates that we are a viable organization.  We are powerful when we can say that 60 groups throughout Oregon are united under progressive principles and in solidarity with the social movement.  This makes funders, legislators, and others take us seriously and know that when ROP or one of our groups says that we stand for something, we stand as a united movement.  This is how we build power.

So we say thank you to all of you lucky groups who have joined ROP this year or renewed your 2010 membership!  You can visit here for our member groups page and to see a list of ROP groups.

All of the rest of you, please renew your group’s commitment to justice and the progressive movement, and become part of the ROP family.  Member group dues remain at just $50 a year. If that amount is daunting or seems out of reach, contact ROP to brainstorm strategies for easy fundraising.  Our membership form is available online, or contact to renew.

Thanks for helping keeping ROP strong.

P.S. If you aren’t sure if your group is current for this year, or want to join ROP for the first time, please contact


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