When our communities are under attack… Stand up, fight back!‏

May 27th, 2015

Dear ROPers,

This year’s Rural Caucus and Strategy Session is going to be special! Not only will we have a beautiful (hopefully!) summer-like weekend to be together in Woodburn at the always inspiring PCUN Union Hall, but we’ve got an incredible lineup of activities and strategy sessions for the entire weekend of June 13th! Join movement leaders and fellow rural and small town leaders to dig in deep about how we create meaningful change!

2012 ROP Caucus at PCUN
The theme of this year’s Caucus is Envisioning Community and Fierce Resistance in the Face of the Right. We will spend our time together sharing and reflecting on the last year of bold organizing for racial justice, immigrant fairness, and economic justice across rural and small town Oregon, and strategizing for the year ahead! As the corporate controlled Right systematically dismantles safety nets and community infrastructure, many of us and our neighbors are going without reliable access to food, meaningful work, healthcare, education and information. What can we do to take care of each other? As the movement for Black Lives Matter creates genuine conversation about race across the country, how can we boldly organize for racial justice in our communities? What do we do when our communities are under attack? Stand up, fight back! See below for highlights of this year’s Caucus!

Have you gotten your registration in yet? Check out the schedule of events and please make sure you have filled out the registration form here. (It is how we track all the necessarily logistics for a weekend together!)

Here are six reasons you will want to be at this year’s Caucus (in no particular order!):

1) Movement leader Kathleen Saadat will keynote!

Kathleen Saadat is an African American lesbian feminist who has spent decades sharing her critical thinking genius throughout Oregon. Her varied resume has allowed her to sample and impact all levels of Oregon decision making while her commitment to grassroots social change stayed a constant. Saadat continues to have her finger on the pulse of the issues impacting our organizing. This year Kathleen will share her reflections on what kind of organizing our moment takes right now, how race and racial justice is being discussed across the country today, and how we can seize this moment to shape our work for the years to come!

2) Inspiration from Rural Oregon: Stories of Success!

Rural Oregonians have been kicking ass! From inspiring youth organizing on climate justice in Southern Oregon, to Northeast Oregon hosting the first Kitchen Table Conversation on the $15 minimum wage and worker dignity, to keeping immigrant rights a local focus while Congress stalls nationally, to over 100 people participating in a regional racial justice study group… There are so many powerful ways folks are making things happen right here in Rural Oregon! Let’s take a closer look at some of the great work already happening and take home ideas and inspiration for your group (that will build energy, grow membership and keep us all fueled in our pursuit of justice!).

3) Farmworker Housing Tour with Ramon Ramirez, President of PCUN!

The heart of Oregon’s vibrant and inspiring farmworker and immigrant rights movement is in Woodburn, Oregon. On Friday afternoon, Ramon Ramirez will lead us on a tour of farmworker housing and movement infrastructure in Woodburn, from the fields to Radio Movimiento. This unique opportunity is available for a limited number of ROP Caucus attendees — register today to reserve your seat!

4) Strategy Sessions on Building Resistance: Community Resilience in the Face of the Right!

The mobilization of “patriot” and militia groups to Southern Oregon shines a spotlight on what many see as a nationally growing militia movement, fueled by an ongoing economic crisis and the predictable anger of working people and veterans. As the national conversation on race continues to grow, we can expect to see a growing backlash, especially in states like Oregon that are named by white supremacists as “the white homeland”. At the same time, all of our towns have seen local fights over school boards, county commissions and other local electoral races as the national corporate Right promotes taking over local elected positions. What are you seeing in your community? What do we know about their strategies, and what can we anticipate next? How can we organize with an alternative vision of how we want our communities to look like that centers around human dignity and democracy for all? What are the roles for all of us in the work, from writing letters to the editor to marching down Main Street?

5) Reflecting on our history in rural Oregon and shaping the future of rural organizing: the Launch of Rural Organizing Voices!

Over 20 years ago, Marcy Westerling traveled the state meeting with folks in rural and small town Oregon to have conversations about the Oregon Citizens Alliance, Ballot Measure 9 and democracy. Those living room conversations led to 20 human dignity groups that launched the Rural Organizing Project. Marcy’s visionary organizing has a legacy that includes our work today. We have much to celebrate with the launch of Rural Organizing Voices, a tool that that shares the stories, lessons, organizing tools and wisdom amassed over the last several decades. This is a resource for us, as rural leaders and organizers, and for future generations of rural organizers. Join us as we share and celebrate the launch of the incredible Rural Organizing Voices!

6) Organizing White Folks for Racial Justice with Dara Silverman of Showing Up for Racial Justice!
Dara Silverman, the National Coordinator of SURJ: Showing Up for Racial Justice, will be joining us from Beacon, NY to facilitate our Sunday session on organizing white folks for racial justice! We will focus on how to engage white people in our work more deeply at a time when so many are questioning their basic assumptions about race, class, and power. Through storytelling and interactive activities participants will have a chance to talk through what is happening on the ground and learn how other local groups are shaping and growing their organizing, accountability practices and impacting systemic change. This workshop has limited capacity for Caucus attendees — seats are first come, first serve! Get your registration form in today to reserve your seat!
We can’t wait to see you there!

Warmly, Cara & Jessica

PS- Registration packets with directions will be emailed out the week prior to the Caucus.