ROP Think Tanks 2010- Sign up now!

ROP is coming upon our 20th anniversary.  As we enter our third decade and a new organizational phase, ROP’s taking time to step back, evaluate our work & our organizing, and do some organizational visioning for our future.

To kick off this process, ROP is bringing Suzanne Pharr to Oregon in February to facilitate a series of small group conversations with ROP leaders and membership.  (Check out Suzanne’s bio below.)  Each conversation with Suzanne will address some variation on an overarching theme: Given our current moment in time, how do we move forward to survive these hard times and organize for our next phase? What has changed over the last few years? How do the global economic and climate crises shift what we do and how we do it?

Here’s the quick rundown of the Conversations (more detailed descriptions are pasted at the end of this e-mail).  Just being in the room with Suzanne is inspiring, invigorating and intellectually stimulating so consider if you would like be a part of one of these conversations:

Thursday 2/11 3:30-5:30pm, Woodburn: Civic Engagement
Friday 2/12 1-3pm, Portland: Democratic Economy
Saturday 2/13 10am-12pm, Newberg: Cross Race/ Latino Organizing
Saturday 2/13 2-4pm, McMinnville: Survival Economics/ Service & Organizing
Sunday 2/14 11am-1pm, Scappoose: ROP Vision with Current & Longtime Leadership

We would love to have you join us.
  Please RSVP to or 503-543-8417.  Space is limited so once we reach capacity we will have to turn people away. A confirmation message will be sent to you with locations and directions upon RSVP.

Warmly, Cara

Suzanne Pharr is a long time organizer and nationally renowned strategic movement thinker from the South.  She’s the former director of the Highlander Center in TN and Arkansas Women’s Project which she also helped to get started.  She wrote the books “Homophobia, a Weapon of Sexism” and “In the Time of the Right.”  Closest to our hearts, Suzanne lived in Oregon for several years in the 90s and helped start ROP.  She has stayed very close to our work over the years.

In 2005, we brought Suzanne out to help us envision what became the Walk for Truth, Justice, and Community.  We’re bringing her out again this February to lead a series of conversations and organizational visioning that will benefit from Suzanne’s unique combination of big picture thinking and connections to movements around the US, expertise on the Right’s organizing in rural communities, experience and commitment to the power of grassroots organizing, and her excellent facilitation skills.

More about the conversations:

Civic Engagement Thurs. 2/11 from 3:30pm-5:30pm:
The theme of the conversation is civic engagement: what will civic engagement look like in 2010 and beyond?  How can we and should we build progressive power within current structures?  What would it mean to create and strengthen our own alternative power structures?

Democratic Economy Fri. 2/12 from 1pm-3pm:
ROP is exploring and developing our definition of a democratic economy: an economy rooted in local control of local resources, with decision making by the people most affected – not by the few or the wealthy, that draws on local wisdom and experience, and embodies fairness and equity in economic development and resource management.  We believe that through collective action we can transform our communities’ economies to work for all of us.  But the question is: how do we get here?  What are the fundamental changes that we are after?  What first steps can we take to move this forward?  What efforts are currently happening that we want to be a part of?  And how and why?

Cross Race and Latino Rural Organizing Sat. 2/13 from 10am-12 noon: 
As the face of rural Oregon continues to change, ROP and it’s member groups are examining our role in supporting locally-based Latino and immigrant organizing in rural and small town Oregon.  We’ll look at what’s changed in Oregon & the Latino community over time and we’ll identify opportunities and barriers to organizing in and with Latino and immigrant communities.

Survival Economics Sat. 2/13 from 2pm-4pm:
The Survival Economics conversation will look at the intersections of organizing, social service and social change.   With the huge amount of unmet needs in rural Oregon, we’ll explore strategies for meeting our communities’ basic and immediate needs at the same time we organize for long term, systemic change.

ROP Leadership Sun. 2/14 from 11am-1pm: This conversation will bring together new and longtime ROP leadership to analyze this moment in time and what are our next steps as an organization and local human dignity leaders.

ROP is at an incredibly exciting time in our life cycle as an organization.  We have stayed vibrant and relevant as a pioneer of rural organizing through our first two decades.  We’ve grown from a single staff person to a staff of 6 organizers, from 20 founding human dignity groups to more than 60 groups that we are in relationship with now, from a single campaign to stop the OCA’s attack on human dignity and queer Oregonians to a nationally renowned multi-issue organization that works for tax fairness, peace, immigrant rights, gender justice, and more.  This year, founding director Marcy Westerling is on leave to explore how ROP’s county by county organizing model could be relevant in other states who want to build progressive rural infrastructure.  We are also launching our own mapping of rural Latino infrastructure in Oregon as we explore what ROP’s role in those communities might be.

As we embark on an 18 month or more process to chart the direction for ROP’s decades ahead, we want to gather our current & past leadership with one of the strategic thinkers who helped us get started.  Join us as we reflect on our current moment in time and ROP’s historical, current and future role in rural & small town organizing.

Let us know if you would like to join us today!