“We Need These Stories”‏

March 16th, 2015

“Who gets to define what history is and what matters?” – Deb Ross, National Movement Leader and ROP Supporter

“This is what we do. We suit up, we show up, and we give. We do it – over and over again – because we love our democracy, our state, and our beloved communities; we do it because we understand how very fragile it all is; we do it because we love the ROP and its founder, Marcy Westerling; and we do it together because we cannot do it alone.” – Elli Work, Longtime Human Dignity Group Leader and Former ROP Board Chair

“Rural Organizing Voices is an inspiring and important piece of Oregon movement history. We need to preserve our history, and this remarkable collection of interviews, photos and video is full of humor, humanity and love for rural Oregon and its people.” – Barbara Dudley, Oregon Movement Leader and ROP Ally

Dear ROPnetters,

These were just a few of the comments from our standing room only March 1st House Party that introduced a group of ROP supporters, friends and organizers to Rural Organizing Voices. This oral history project documents and shares the stories, lessons, organizing tools and wisdom amassed through ROP’s 23-year history of grassroots organizing in rural and small town Oregon.

The project features items such as a video narrating ROP’s origins by ROP Founder, Marcy Westerling, multi-media essays that explore key ROP victories and campaigns, and over 50 excerpts from oral history interviews that highlight the small town organizing stories of the people who are the heart of ROP. Together, these materials illuminate ROP’s organizing model and invite critical reflection on what it takes to do grassroots organizing in a rural setting – and why this work matters.

As one attendee shared, “Rural Organizing Voices is not only a way to help new leadership rise and thrive to make a difference in rural and small town Oregon, it is also a way to give tribute to those of us who lived this history. I have been profoundly touched by this project, listening to the stories, seeing the photos, and looking at the ROP training material. The ROP made a difference to us then and they will make a difference to leadership now and in the future. This work must never end.”

We could not have been more thrilled and honored by the reception of Rural Organizing Voices. While we finish the curation of materials and get ready to launch the site, we invite you to take a sneak peak and if you are able to give to help us finish the site, please do so.

As Holly Pruett shares in a recent blog post, “I defy anyone to listen to the 7 minute teaser of the oral history clip featured below without wanting to hear more. The verdict in the room was unanimous – people doubled and tripled what they’d planned to give in support of the project (and the Marcy Westerling Collection on Rural Organizing being established at the University of Oregon). In a world steeped in cynicism and despair, where communication is now meted out in screen shots and sound bites, we need these stories.”

We will be introducing these materials to the larger ROP community at this year’s Rural Caucus & Strategy Session on Saturday, June 13th in Woodburn. Mark your calendar now and join us for an opportunity to review our movement history, hear the stories of our predecessors and those doing the work today, and most importantly inspire and learn for our future organizing together.

All Our Best,
Cara & Sarah

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