What a Day! Photos & Stories from the 2011 Caucus

Over 130 people representing dozens of groups from 27 counties joined us at the Caucus this year in a spirit of celebration, solidarity, and resistance for a day of storytelling, workshops, and strategy sessions.  See photos here, and be sure to tune into Circle A Radio’s show about the Caucus on KBOO tomorrow at 6pm!
Thank you to all who hosted visitors in your homes, led workshops, helped with logistics, and especially to the First Presbyterian Church in Bend for hosting us.  Everybody chipped in to make this a Caucus truly owned by the ROP community.
The day was packed with inspirational moments, but the most powerful was our noon break, when we used the collective voice of our statewide network, and marched down to Congressman Walden’s Bend office to serve him a Notice of Foreclosure!

The notice exposed his choices to side with corporate America against the people of Oregon.  We publicly declared our resistance to a corporate democracy that has put profits before people, and “repossessed the public trust” vested in Congressman Walden.  As our action ended, we heard news that groups in Washington State & New York were deciding that it’s time to foreclose on their representatives, too!
Here is a quick look at some of the press our action drew:

The rest of our Caucus was a blast.  With the economy in the dumps, corporate America at the steering wheel, and families being destroyed by foreclosures, deportations, unemployment, we know we’re up against odds.  How then can we be so hopeful, inspired, and joyful even, at the sense of shared struggle?  Yet we are.
Our theme this year, UNITY IN RESISTANCE was a common thread that carried through the stories, workshops, and actions.  The sense of power in being bold, uniting across diverse identities, issues & causes, and the excitement of building an effective movement was palpable.
Speaking on our morning panel, Betsy Lamb of Immigrant Family Advocates in Bend said,

I have come to believe in what Martin Luther King Jr said, “There can be no Justice for anybody until there is Justice for all.”  I have a deep sense of why it matters to fight injustices as one united movement.  Even so, my involvement is based in the richness I gain personally.  I’ve found that it affirms my humanity to have relationships with people who come from cultures different from my own, who have other experiences and values to add to the work.

Many of us could have spoken to that same sentiment – strength not only in numbers, but in the diversity of our movement.  The Caucus affirmed that we are beginning to create waves.  We are starting to be effective at combatting some of the damage done by the economic crisis, and at the same time pointing to the root causes: corporate greed, foreign wars, and a democracy that has been out of the hands of the people for too long.
From the work of Good Grief America to defend homeowners in foreclosure to Immigrant Family Advocates’ efforts to stop deportations to exploring with Wellstone Action what it would take to train up progressive candidates to run for local office, we cross-pollinated and began to build the roadmap for our next steps together.
So what are those next steps?  We’ll be following up with those of you who attended the Caucus, and sharing the best stories and projects over ROPnet in the coming weeks.  But here is a sneak preview of some of the most exciting work going forward…

The Peoples’ Foreclosure! Walden heard from us once on the day of the Caucus, but he will be hearing from us every day this month as groups from every county in the state send a foreclosure notice to his office.  See the full Foreclosure Notice and our press release here. https://rop.org/rural-oregonians-foreclose-on-walden  Are there elected representatives in your community that are delinquent and need to face foreclosure?

Resisting the Corporate Coup d’Etat of this Country. Next step strategies for bold, hometown actions to build local community in this crisis while challenging the corporate take-over of our democracy.  Stay tuned for opportunities to resist the US Chamber of Commerce, challenge Wall Street Banks in the next phase of Move Your Money, and connect more homeowners in Foreclosure to resource and organizing opportunities.

Ending Unjust Deportations, which are higher every year – under Obama they have passed 400,000 in 2010.  This creates instability in the whole community: kids are left without heads of household, workers are afraid to drive to work, and families are unsure about whether they can risk putting down roots.  Look for a ROPnet soon highlighting the network forming to take the next step in fighting unjust deportations at the state level.

Oregon is poised for a ballot measure to win Marriage Equality, and we’re looking at ways to best position ourselves in rural Oregon to use the attention we’ll be getting to build the strength & visibility of local groups.  We are also reminded of the need to keep present the diversity of the LGBTQ community – we are youth, trans people, people of color – and to be there for each other.  More coming your way soon.

Candidate Recruitment. As we continue to build leaders that serve as local organizers, how can we get more disciplined in finding the right kind of leaders to serve in local public office?  We’ll be taking our training and lessons from the Caucus to support local groups who want to add (or strengthen) this aspect of their local organizing.

Building Welcoming Communities. Many groups are facing the broken national policies around immigration by turning the debate into dialogue and community building.  See this message that we sent out in April to learn more about this proactive approach to helping immigrants integrate into the cultural tapestry of our communities.

THANK YOU ALL for another wonderful year of ROP!
Amanda, Cara, Kayla, and Katy
P.S. Don’t forget to tune into Circle A Radio on KBOO this Wednesday at 6pm to catch an hour-long show about our Caucus.  Live stream the show here: http://kboo.fm/listen. Or email cara@rop.org for a cd of the program.