As the color of rural Oregon shifts, so does our organizing. On February 5th, ROP will host our first ever Strategy Retreat for rural Latino groups. When ROP started in the early 1990s, Oregon was 4% of Latino descent – in 2009 that number was more than 11%. Counties that have seen the most growth are where there is a large demand for agricultural labor – in the orchards of Hood River and Wasco Counties, in the fields of the Willamette Valley & Southern Oregon, in the large-scale industries of Eastern Oregon.
In these times of change, human dignity groups have advocated for fair legislation, held Living Room Conversations to build a base of immigrant allies, and embraced rural Oregon’s slow demographic shift by honoring our shared humanity.
Over the years, ROP has worked with a supported several Latino led member groups – from Latinos and Others United in Response (LOUR), which we organized in the 1990s, to groups like UNETE in Jackson County that have been members of ROP over the years. Recently, new Latino led groups have formed and joined ROP:Centro de Ayuda in Lincoln County, Latinos Unidos para un Futuro Mejor in Columbia County. These groups and others have now requested the support of ROP and its network to bring together local Latino leadership to share experience, build relationships, and break rural isolation of Latinos in the social movement.
The Rural Oregon Latino Leadership Retreat will take place on February 5th in Independence, Oregon. (More on our blog here) It is free to attend, though registration is limited. This gathering is for Latino leaders, activists and Latino-led groups who organize for social change in rural Oregon.
What will we talk about in this retreat?
- How to break isolation & build relationships between rural groups linked in the social movement. How can we communicate across long distances?
- The strengths of our groups & network. What skills, relationships, and structures do we need to develop still?
- The impact on Latino communities of the rise in the right-wing movement, which uses race as a wedge. What does this economic and political moment mean?
- How to flex our muscles: starting to coordinate action towards shared goals to use our collective statewide power.
An ROP advisory team of rural Latino leaders has been meeting (virtually!) for the past three months to make this possible. We’ll be joined by some of our closest friends at CAUSA, as well as the Safe Communities Project, and local human dignity group Polk Café Commons.
While our times can feel dire right now, it is through the growth and strengthening of our organizing that can offer hope to our communities and our selves. Stay tuned for a report back on the summit, the connections made at it, and the hometown organizing strategies that come out of it. Please forward the link to our blog to those who may want to attend!