Welcoming a New Season of Connecting Rural Voices!

Yesterday at the State Capital, Patriot Prayer attempted to disrupt the emergency session while legislators passed the relief bill for tenants at risk of eviction that many of us fought so hard for. In light of the threats, intimidation, and violence that organizers both rural and urban have been facing, we want to lift up the victories we have won this year and also make sure you have access to these safety and security tools. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at safety@rop.org for support in keeping each other as safe as possible in your organizing.

Especially in light of the recent protests in Salem, we’re so proud to share with you some reflections on the Rural Organizing Project’s first year of producing Rural Roots Rising, our monthly radio show and podcast! One of the driving forces in creating this podcast was to provide rural stories in our own words. In response to the incomplete ways our communities are covered in the media, we set out to challenge rural stereotypes that say rural equals white and Far Right, and tell a more accurate story of who rural Oregonians are. Our communities are complex, multiracial, and multigenerational, working across vast differences and building connections from the coast to the Wallowa Mountains.

This month we’re launching into season two and to get things started, our season opens with a reflective staff conversation. Behind the Scenes with ROP peels back the curtain on the show and examines how and why the ROP network decided to focus on storytelling and radio partnerships in this way.

If you’re not familiar with Rural Roots Rising, let us fill you in a bit. It’s a monthly 29-minute radio show and podcast that weaves together stories and storytellers engaged in courageous and creative organizing across rural Oregon. As we see rural news sources being bought up by multinational corporations or going under completely, Rural Roots Rising is one part of our strategy drawn from radio relationships developed over ROP’s 30-year history and supported by rural leaders. Our network is committed to building and sustaining accurate and accessible local media for our small towns and rural communities. Listeners can find the podcast on our Rural Roots Rising website and check out the list of 19 rural radio stations we partner with to air the program across 14 Oregon counties! You can also subscribe and listen to the podcast on Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Listening to Behind the Scenes with ROP, you’ll hear more about the origins of Rural Roots Rising from ROP staff members Jess, Hannah, and Emma and the skills we have gained by leaping into the many layers of podcast creation. We learned that sharing stories has a powerful impact on both the teller and the listener. The stories we have captured reflect the progress and successes in our movement and inspire ourselves and each other to take on new and sustained organizing for justice and democracy.

Beyond sharing stories from across the ROP network, we have also worked hard to make Rural Roots Rising a resource for rural communities looking to create their own media. When the network called on us to bolster community media, we wanted to make sure we were learning in public by sharing out these skills as we honed them and helping build resources that people around the state could pull from and adapt. Are you interested in joining us in making rural media? Reach out to us at info@RuralRootsRising.org. We’re excited to work with you!

In our first season, we broadcast dozens of rural storytellers straight into the living rooms and car rides of listeners worldwide, breaking isolation that the coronavirus pandemic intensified and inspiring continued work to build rural community power:

Brenda Flores (Raíces, Umatilla County), Juan Navarro (Here to Stay, mid-Willamette Valley), Martha Verduzco (Hood River Latino Network, Columbia River Gorge), Katie Cook (Rural Voices, Gilliam County), Miriam Vargas Corona (Unidos Bridging Community, Yamhill County), Bruce Morris (KPOV-High Desert Community Radio, Deschutes County) Navneet Kaur (Innovation Law Lab and Dasmesh Darbar Sikh Temple, Marion County), Gwen Trice (Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center, Wallowa County), Harry MacCormack (Sunbow Farm, Benton County), Martina LeForce (Berea Kids Eat, Kentucky) Ana Elisa Wilson (Oregon Rural Action, Umatilla and Morrow Counties), Arturo Sarmiento (Radio Poder in the mid-Willamette Valley pictured here), Carol Newman (Coast Community Radio, Clatsop County), Connie Saldaña (KSKQ Community Radio, Jackson County), Adriana Aquarius (Central Oregon Diversity Project, Deschutes County), Gianna Espinoza (Wallowa County), Janelle Wicks (Rural Alliance for Diversity, Harney County), Sandra Watts (Lake County), MiriKoltuv and Colleen Nelson (Union County), Joe Lewis (Columbia County Coalition for Human Dignity, Columbia County), Zachary Stocks (Clatsop County), Suzanne Pharr (Arkansas), Kim Schmith, Kelsey Olivera, and Kelly Huang (Madras Key Club, Jefferson County), Pam Reese (Economic Community for Healthy Opportunity, Umatilla County), Keyen Singer (Tribal Youth Council, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation), Leslie Rubenstein and Cathy Bellavita (Blackberry Pie Society, Lane County), Monica Pearson (North Coast Progressive Action, Clatsop County), and Rita Schenkelberg (Bend City Councilor-elect, Deschutes County).

If you’ve read this far, I hope that I’m right in predicting that you want to settle in for a listen to Behind the Scenes with ROP and other episodes of Rural Roots Rising! Find out when your local radio station is playing Behind the Scenes with ROP at ruralrootsrising.org!

If you are interested in connecting with other rural Oregonians who are making media or building power in your area, reach out to info@RuralRootsRising.org to get involved.And finally, if you can, please donate to ROP so that we can continue expanding our work on Rural Roots Rising and partnering with local radio stations and rural media creators!

This month, your financial contribution in support of the ROP network, Rural Roots Rising and other work could be doubled! New and increased contributions to ROP are being matched one to one up to $25,000 by a generous gift from the Collins Foundation. A $100 contribution grows to $200 in December! The donate sign will take you to our website to make an online contribution. 

If you have already donated–thank you!

With gratitude for all you do as part of our movement towards a thriving rural Oregon,

Emma, Hannah, Meredith, and the ROP Team

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