We had so much fun at the Rural Caucus & Strategy Session!

From building our skills to defend our communities from detention and deportation to organizer speed-dating to collectively dancing to “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics, the 30th annual Rural Caucus & Strategy Session was powerful. More than 100 rural organizers, community leaders, and activists joined together virtually to reflect on the victories and immense challenges we’ve faced over the last year and to strategize for the year to come! Even though we couldn’t be together in person, our day was filled with smiles, merriment, and a wonderfully awkward sing-along as we drew energy from being with each other!

Two musicians with grey hair and glasses holding guitars and singing in their house

We started our day with the Opening Gathering – Building Community in the Time of COVID. We recounted the victories our movement has won around the state, cheering and celebrating with each other! Our wonderful closed captioners for the Caucus remarked it was the first virtual meeting that they captioned cheering, clapping, hooting, and hollering (a victory by itself)! We shared stories from victories on the Roadmap to a Thriving Rural Oregon and ending the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contract at NORCOR, the final ICE contract with a jail in Oregon after more than 15 years of human dignity groups chipping away at the systems of detention and deportation! Kate, ROP’s kickass Archivist, shared headlines human dignity groups have made over the last 30-years, and we had fun envisioning what the headlines will say over the next 30 years of rural organizing as we win victories from the Roadmap to a Thriving Rural Oregon. Is your group organizing locally on issues in the Roadmap or looking for a place to start? We’d love to talk! Reach out to us at office@rop.org

Roadmap to a Thriving Rural Oregon Graphic

Defending Our Communities from Detention & Deportationdug deep into how ICE and Border Patrol operate in rural Oregon, the ways rural community members can protect each other, and how to support and uplift the leadership of directly impacted people. Are you organizing to end detention and deportaton in your community? Let us know what tools or conversations with other organizers would most support your work!  

A powerpoint presentation with a slide that says

Organizing for Everyone: Tried & True Tools for Rural Organizers explored how to build a strong human dignity group! We focused on power building in rural communities, how to keep the focus on a thriving Rural Oregon, and how to develop our skills and keep our groups thriving for the long haul. We’re hearing from folks in the network that they’d like more skill building workshops and spaces to problem-solve together so we’re exploring what form this might take next. Would your group jump into something like that? What are you most hungry to learn or strategize about? 

OUTDance Logo, pride flag in the shape of Oregon

We wrapped up the day with a performance from the OUT Dance Project and a Creative Organizing Strategy Session! OUT Dance Project performed four powerful, deeply emotional, and inspiring stories of rural LGBTQ+ folks across Oregon. You can check them out here! OUT Dance Project creators Eliot Feenstra and Sophie Traub, renowned choreographer Snowflake Calvert, and producer Alex Gaylon joined ROP Board member and Benton County organizer Lisa Gonzales to lead us in discussion about the ways we can activate our creativity to advance our community organizing. We concluded with a group interpretative dance based on a live storytelling! It was a memorable experience for everyone involved and folks named wanting more spaces to share ideas for creative organizing in the future. Let us know if that’s a conversation you’d like to be a part of! 

We would love to hear what you took away from the Caucus, or what it inspired you to tackle in your own community. Contact your ROP organizer or reach out to us at office@rop.org.

We came away from the Caucus more energized than ever! The past year of quarantine and isolation has been incredibly difficult, but connecting, even virtually, served as a reminder of how much we can accomplish when we join together and build the movement for human dignity!

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