On Wednesday, August 17, 2011, a dozen ROP friends and volunteers gathered in a circle outside our humble Scappoose office to hear ROP founder and rural organizing visionary, Marcy Westerling, share stories of ROP’s origins as part of our Roots & Wings Oral History Project. This really is just one of Marcy’s many stories:
When I went to my grocery store and my post office, which were the only post office and only grocery store in the town at the time, and both of them had a huge 8’ x 4’ sign saying, “Do You Believe Homosexuality is a Sin?” That’s when I called up Suzanne Pharr,* not as my usual effort to be a mature person, but instead as an outraged, angry person, saying, “And when the fuck are you getting your ass out here to help us?” And she and Scot Nakagawa* showed up the next day.
Listening to Marcy share her story was the prelude to a packed afternoon of training in the art of oral history. We learned how to operate a digital audio recorder and place a mic. We practiced asking good questions and listening with our full bodies. Because, over the next few months, we want to sit in your living rooms. We want to hear about your stories and experiences organizing for human dignity in rural, small town and frontier Oregon. We want to understand what’s worked — and what hasn’t. We want to document and honor this shared history – and analyze and learn from it to strengthen our movement for the next few decades!
Also – consider making a donation to support this grassroots effort to document, analyze, and harness the power of our collective history. Since our inception, ROP has intentionally kept a small budget and this project, like most of our work, will happen largely through volunteer support. But we still need some funding from those of us who appreciate the value of small town progressive organizing to make it happen. Donate online or send a check to ROP at PO Box 1350, Scappoose, OR 97056 (put “Roots & Wings” in the memo line). If you contribute $25 or more, we’ll mail you a DVD with Marcy’s full story from the training, along with several of ROP members’ stories recorded by Circle A Radio. We first kicked off this project at the ROP’s Roots & Wings Celebration last December. Some of you may remember sharing your ROP memories at that gathering with friends from Circle A radio; you can listen to the radio piece they produced from those interviews as well as a follow-up piece from this year’s Rural Caucus & Strategy Session. Thank you, Circle A!