Collectively the ROP and it’s human dignity member groups accomplished a lot in 2009! We invite you to take a moment to look back on all we’ve done and achieved in our shared project to advance justice and democracy in rural Oregon.
So here are, in no particular order, ROP’s Top 9 from 2009. Take a look. And give yourself a pat on the back. This is about us ordinary folk in rural and small town Oregon, coming together to do some quite extraordinary things…
Rural Organizing Project’s TOP 9 from 2009!
- Procession for Respect and Dignity – ROP supported the formation of new member group Latinos Unidos para un Futuro Mejor (LUFM), as the Latino community reeled from the threat of Columbia County anti-immigrant ballot measure 5-190. In February, LUFM & Columbia County Citizens for Human Dignity organized a Procession for Respect and Dignity in Saint Helens attended by over 300 community members and allies. Two months later, the County judge overturned the measure!
- Democracy Bailout Day of Action – As part of our 2009 Rural Caucus & Strategy Session, ROP organized a Democracy Bailout Day of Action at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem in March along with 5 partner organizations. Over 100 people from all corners of the state met with more than 80 legislators to demand that the needs of the people not be overshadowed by the needs of banks and business in this time of economic crisis.
- Diffusing the Madness – When Teabaggers came out to rural Oregon to disrupt our communities’ town halls with lies, shouting and blatant disrespect, ROP members stood up across the state for civil discourse, bringing attention to the real issues at hand – human dignity and the basic human right to health care and true security. ROP members attended over 20 town halls in rural counties.
- Bringing Our Money Home – Faced with a deepening crisis, ROP members reached out to learn how the economic collapse was affecting their neighbors. They started to envision what a more democratic economy might look like through Living Room Conversations. And they experimented with new strategies for investing in and protecting local community wealth, such as switching their accounts from big corporate banks to locally-owned and controlled credit unions, now a hot topic circulating on Common Dreams & the Huffington Post.
- Ch-ch-ch-changes… for the ROP Family! – In 2009 ROP’s Founding Director, Marcy Westerling, received a 2010 Fellowship from the Open Society Institute and began preparations to go on leave from ROP Oregon for this next year. In anticipation of this transition, former ROP staff person Cara Shufelt came back on staff to join Amy Dudley as Co-Director. The ROP family kept growing with the birth of Cora Lou Dudley Borte who joins us regularly in the Scappoose office. With Amanda, Kari, Sarah, Amy, Cara & Cora we’re starting out 2010 stronger than ever!
- On the Road with ROP – ROP sponsored two statewide tours in 2009, reaching hundreds of rural and small town Oregonians. One brought war resister Benji Lewis to 16 small communities across the state to engage in discussions about the effects of war on soldiers and the broader connections between war, the military and the economic collapse. In the other tour, nationally-renowned immigration and labor author David Bacon visited 9 communities in 6 different counties to open up honest conversation about crucial issues surrounding immigrant rights.
- ROP Member Groups (our pride and joy!) – Member organizations and ROP Central are reaching and engaging more people than ever before. In 2009, our contacts topped 14,000 people from every Oregon county, ROP rounded out the year with 50 active Human Dignity Groups, and over 10 ROP member groups developed their first webpages, increasing our collective pro-democracy presence in the public domain!
- Not in Our Towns. In 2009, ROP mobilized and supported local community leaders in responding to the attack of two gay men on the North Oregon Coast, a racially motivated assault against a Jewish man in Pendleton, and multiple hate incidents in Southern Oregon. These efforts led to the unanimous passage of a resolution urging passage of federal hate crimes legislation (the Matthew Shepard Act), and the formation of a new Community Response Team in the Medford area, capable of responding to community needs, and designed to endure.
- Tax Fairness Campaign – Taking advantage of an opportune moment for action in order to get long-term changes made! ROP & member groups educate and mobilize for economic justice in all of Oregon’s 36 counties with a clear message – Tax Fairness is good for working people, small business, and rural Oregon. Already, ROP friends have personally distributed guides in 13 different counties, published 9 articles or editorials and submitted over 20 letters to the editor in rural newspapers, gotten dozens of rural small business owners to publicly declare their support for measures 66 & 67, etc., etc., etc. — and the campaign is just now starting to heat up!
Thanks to all the ROP membership, leadership and human dignity groups that have built and strengthened our collective progressive movement in rural Oregon in 2009. Here’s to an even more stellar 2010!
The ROP Family