We are a few days away from our first in-person Caucus since 2019, and we cannot wait to strategize with you! More than 100 rural community leaders, activists, and organizers will convene in Redmond to share lessons from the hard and powerful work of organizing through overlapping crises, build organizing skills, and plan for the year to come. Read on for the plan for this weekend, Saturday, June 25th & Sunday, June 26th, and register today if you’d like to join us! We only have a few seats left!
If you think you have registered, but you haven’t received a confirmation packet, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
See you soon!
Jess, Emma, Abelio, Sidra, Erika, and the ROP Team
Rural Caucus & Strategy Session: Saturday, June 25th
8am – 9am: Registration and Breakfast
9am – 12pm: Building Community During Crisis
Groups deeply rooted in their rural communities across Oregon are building bigger and stronger networks to take care of each other, build people power, and dismantle structures of injustice, even during public health, climate, and economic crises. Learn more about how Indigenous Helpers, Redmond Collective Action, and Central Oregon Peacekeepers are doing just that in Central Oregon! Let’s also celebrate the victory of ending the last contract between a public jail and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Oregon! This win was made possible through an intense 3-year campaign that began with two hunger strikes by detained asylum-seekers and migrants and ultimately succeeded with the collective organizing of leaders across the four counties whose taxes fund NORCOR! We will break out into small groups to share stories and connect with other leaders from across the state taking on similar work!
12pm – 1:15pm: Lunch
1:20pm – 3pm: Strategy Sessions I
Creating a Culture of Safety and Security
In rural Oregon, the Right hopes to control our communities through the politics of fear and rejection. We have learned through experience how essential it is to build a community focused on protecting and taking care of each other so we can keep each other safe as we build a better world. This strategy session will be facilitated by Ahjamu Umi, long-time activist and organizer with the All African People’s Revolutionary Party with decades of community safety experience. Join us to strengthen your group’s security skills for planning public meetings, private gatherings, rallies, and marches. You will have the opportunity to create your group’s plans for implementing, assessing, and improving your security strategies over time.
Looking Back and Moving Forward
Join us for a conversation about how we can reflect on history as a way to energize, inform, and bring new people into our organizing! Folks across the state have been highlighting local and state history in their communities to build organizing strength. The 2022 Caucus also marks ROP’s 30th anniversary! Together we’ve created a traveling exhibit featuring human dignity group victories and lessons from ROP’s 30 years titled “Bridging Divides, Defending Dignity: how rural Oregonians have moved democracy forward since 1992!” We will close out by discussing what it might look like to bring this traveling exhibit to your community and how you can use it to build new relationships and bring more people into your local organizing!
Rooting Our Organizing in Healing Justice
Although the last few years have been full of unanticipated challenges, we have also learned so much about building strong groups that are ready to meet whatever comes at us. With so much to do, it can be easy to forget about the things that sustain our work for the long haul, like joy, creativity, and a lot of snacks! We will brainstorm strategies for what makes a human dignity group nurturing, supportive, and joyful, while recognizing the struggles in our communities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Participants will leave this space with ideas for practical ways to fold healing justice into our day-to-day organizing. The goal of this session is to kick off a conversation you can take home and have with your established or newly forming group about how we want to be with each other and how we want to interact with our communities. We’ll even provide you with an example agenda you can use!
Changing the Story About Rural Economies
Oregon has the highest rates of houselessness and the greatest number of millionaires in its history, and the Right continues to use economic suffering and crisis to pit Oregonians against each other. From the racist tropes about who is to blame for rural Oregon’s defunded and failing infrastructure to the mythology of the Wild West, our communities are lefty high and dry while a wealthy few grow wealthier. Together, let’s strategize about campaigns that overcome polarization and division to advance economic justice in rural Oregon and beyond! We can look to the successful campaign for Farmworker Overtime for inspiration, and our friends with the Oregon Center for Public Policy will strategize with us about reforming Oregon’s kicker!
Local Government By, For, and Of the People!
Groups are organizing across the state and beyond to hold local governments accountable to a basic standard of human dignity and make sure local elected officials are upholding the people’s real priorities. Come learn about powerful campaigns to hold local law enforcement accountable from Deschutes County and the Texas border-zone, and let’s strategize about what’s coming up in the November election (not to mention the May 2023 school board races!). We will dig into organizing around elections, public meetings, racial profiling and making our voices heard at the local level!
3:15pm – 5pm: Strategy Sessions II
Pride vs. Proud Boys: Building Welcoming Communities and Claiming Space
Between Pride and Juneteenth celebrations, fair booths, and community BBQs, human dignity groups are showing up in public to build beloved community. While organized far-Right groups attempt to make us feel marginal, organizers are refusing to be silenced! How is your group laying the groundwork for welcoming communities through visibly taking up space and building deep relationships? How can we keep each other as safe as possible while continuing to hold true to our long-term vision? Join us to strategize around what’s working and where we can go from here!
Exploring Disability Justice and Increasing Accessibility
Join Kate and Allison from Disability Equity Center in the Willamette Valley to talk about the basic principles of Disability Justice work and explore ways to increase our understanding of accessibility. This interactive conversation offers a safe, engaging space to learn in community about ways to be more inclusive, disability-affirming leaders and organizations. Leave with some practical tools to increase universal access and better connect with the disability community. Access begins with attitude!
Dissecting Institutional Racism
This workshop helps participants examine the concepts of race and racism. Ahjamu Umi’s interactive presentation will be complemented by a discussion on current events and their connections to systemic oppression. The discussions and exercises will challenge participants to think outside their comfort zones and to interpret institutional racism in a new light and perspective.
Community Media is Community Power
Rural communities and small towns are only as strong as the networks that share reliable and timely information. In an era where locally-owned newspapers are closing their doors and siloed corporate entertainment “news” media dominates the airwaves, we need community media now more than ever! Together we will learn from rural Oregonians who have built community radio stations, who actively dispel disinformation shared in City Council and School Board meetings, and who creatively use social media platforms to advance democracy. Join us as we strategize about how community-owned media can strengthen crisis response, share many different viewpoints to keep temperatures low in moments of community tension, and break isolation as we get the word out about our important work!
“…But the Children!”
In 1992, Oregon Ballot Measure 9 attempted to rewrite the Oregon Constitution to create second-class citizenship for 2SIALGBTQ+ Oregonians, and the religious Right stoked fear that children were at risk unless parents showed up to protect them. Unfortunately, a majority of progressive families with young children voted for Measure 9 (which was thankfully defeated!), and even more unfortunately, we see the same tropes playing out today. From attacks on school boards over Critical Race Theory and trans student rights, to the justifications for ending Roe, and the push for greater policing in schools instead of the common-sense gun reforms that youth are demanding, young people are being used as a weapon by the Right to undermine building the community infrastructure and services that we need most. Together we’ll unpack ways that we can work with our neighbors to see the bigger picture when the Right stirs up panic, and strategize about the work we can take on that truly supports youth on the frontlines of the latest iteration of culture wars.
5:05pm – 5:30pm: Resilience and Resistance in 2022 and Beyond
We have done this work collectively for 30 years and look at what we can accomplish together! In the 30 years to come, what can we accomplish with the might of rural people power? What do our communities need to get there?
5:30pm – ‘til the cows come home: Celebrate ROP’s 30th birthday with dinner, live music, dancing, sweet treats, and great company!
Rural Organizing Intensive: Sunday, June 26th
7:45am – 8:15am: Yoga on the Lawn [Optional]
All experience levels are welcome for a guided yoga class outside the venue. You don’t need to bring anything other than yourself!
8 – 9am: Registration and Breakfast
9 – 9:20am: Welcome and Orientation
9:25am – 1pm: Rural Organizing Intensive Tracks
Creating a Culture of Safety and Security
In rural Oregon, the Right hopes to stop us from organizing and control our communities through isolation and attacking anyone that sticks their neck out. We have learned through experience that we are only safe if everybody’s safe. Building a community focused on protecting and taking care of each other is crucial to building a better world. This strategy session will be facilitated by Ahjamu Umi, a long-time activist and organizer with the All African People’s Revolutionary Party with decades of community safety experience. Join us to strengthen your group’s security skills for staying safe so you can continue to do the necessary work of organizing for justice. You will have the opportunity to create your plans for implementing, assessing, and improving security strategies over time.
Organizing for Everyone
We believe that everyone can be a community organizer and that everyone has something to give to the movement for human dignity. Whether you’re new to organizing or you’ve been organizing for decades, bring your challenges and successes to this conversation. Build your skills and stock your toolbox with some of the tried and true tools used by human dignity groups to organize for justice in rural Oregon! Together we’ll explore how to connect with people in your community, build a strong human dignity group, plan and lead effective people-driven campaigns (not just one-time actions!), and keep your group alive and kicking for the long haul. After spending Saturday sharing stories of rural organizing victories across the state and making plans for the year to come, this will be a space for drawing on lessons learned and turning goals into concrete action plans!
1 – 1:30pm: Reconvene in the Commons for a SURPRISE!
1:30pm: Grab a delicious lunch for the road
We only have a few seats left! Register today at www.rop.org/caucus to join us in Redmond this weekend!