Letter from a Marine Mom

ROP board member, Mary Geddry, created this video representation of her "open letter" to an Iraqi child, explaining how the actions of her son in a firefight have connected them to each other. Her son and her family will be forever changed by his experiences in Iraq

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Building Grassroots Capacity for Social Change

ROP’s mission is to build the capacity of our member groups. What do we mean by capacity? Ultimately, it is the power to make change. That power comes from being able to mobilize people to act on behalf of the democratic values we care about. The more people willing to stand up for those values, the more powerful we will be. This is why our primary focus is on groups, rather than individuals. While individual activists can make a difference, organized groups are able to mobilize in greater numbers.
 
What capacity-building services does ROP offer?
  1. Starting a Human Dignity Group
  2. Building your Group and Keeping it Strong
 
 
ROP works with individuals wishing to organize in their own communities around the issues ROP cares about. We can provide phone support, assistance with outreach, agenda planning and facilitation of initial meetings. Priority for staff time goes to groups working on urgent social justice issues in communities where we do not currently have member groups. If ROP is not able to provide on-site staff support, we can always offer phone and e-mail support, answer questions and help strategize.  Types of questions ROP can help with:
  • How do I start a group? What do I need to think about?
  • Do we need to become a non-profit?
  • Should we hire staff?

Tools ROP offers: Leadership team development, sample by-laws and mission statements, examples of similar models.
 


1.  Capacity Assessments
Is your group as strong as you’d like it to be? Are you setting bold goals and reaching them? Do you have a plan? ROP can help your group assess what is going well and prioritize things to work on to make your group stronger.  Tools: capacity assessment, followed by organizational retreat and work plan development.

2.  Building a Strong Leadership Team 
Organizations with a defined team of leaders are more likely to survive and be effective. Staff can work with your group on how to build your leadership team. We’ll meet with current leaders or members to make a plan for recruiting people to be part of your group’s leadership team. We can help you identify roles for leadership team members, create a process for orienting new leaders and assist with planning sessions.
 
3.  Developing a Strategy and Action Plan
ROP offers two types of strategy sessions: For issue-based strategy sessions, ROP staff facilitates a 1.5 – 2 hour conversation with your group to analyze a particular issue and make a specific action plan for your group on how to work on that issue.  In organizational action planning strategy sessions, ROP meets with your group to identify organizational priorities and develop an 18-month action plan.

4. Communication Systems
Is your group doing great work that no one ever hears about?  ROP can help your group develop systems for keeping track of supporters and staying in touch.  Tools: template for organizational database for use with Access software; sample guidelines for listserves; tips for effective e-mail communication; staff support in setting up a step-by-step communication plan.
 
5.  Base-building and Outreach
If your group isn’t growing, it’s shrinking.
 
6. Diversity, Solidarity and Being Allies
Is your group committed to diversity, but struggling over how to achieve it? ROP can help think through your groups’ goals, from overcoming oppressive dynamics to becoming effective allies against racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of oppression.
 
7. Retreat Planning and Facilitation
If your group is planning a retreat, ROP can help you create an agenda and facilitate it. Typically, this may look like an extended strategy session.
 
8. Organizational Issues
ROP can help your group be more effective in its work by offering support in areas such as:
  • By-laws, structure
  • Effective meetings
  • Fundraising
  • Decision-making process
  • Burnout
  • Taking action
9. Individual Leadership Development
Interested in becoming more effective as a leader? Wanting to encourage the talents of a new member of your group? ROP’s annual Caucus and Strategy Session is a great way to learn new skills, analyze current issues and connect with other activists. Also, leaders of ROP member groups get priority for scholarships to attend Western States Center’s annual Community Strategic Training Initiative. (One of the best training’s for grassroots activism in the country.) Ask us about where to get campaign training, or other training you may need to do your organizing.  In addition, ROP staff is available to provide problem-solving and moral support to individual leaders of ROP member groups by phone or e-mail.

 

 
1. Types of questions ROP can help with:
  • What kind of political organizing can our group do without jeopardizing our non-profit status?
  • Can we endorse or oppose a ballot initiative as a non-profit?
  • What are simple activities we can do with such a small group that still make a difference?
  • What are some effective ways of getting our message out?
2. Kitchen Table Activism

Each month, ROP suggests a strategic and timely activity designed to provide a simple way for your group to engage in social change organizing or strengthen your group. These activities are posted on our ROPnet listserve and on the Kitchen Table Activism page of our website.
  
3. Tips for Activism
ROP can provide detailed information and support on the following:
  • Having a house meeting
  • Meeting with legislators
  • Organizing for a Town Hall
  • Writing elected officials
  • Letters to the editor
  • Interviewing candidates
  • Tabling
  • Designing a brochure
  • Writing a press release
  • Getting your story to the media
  • Planning an event
  • Pizza and postcards: simple actions
  • Responding to hate activities or hate crimes
  • Diversity in the schools
  • What makes a good e-mail message?
 

 
 

 

 
 

 

 
 
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ROP Goals and Objectives 2008-2013

  1. Expand rural grassroots progressive power through our human dignity groups.
  2. Support human dignity groups in expanding their capacity to effect social change.
  3. Break rural isolation in all of Oregon’s 36 counties.
  4. Use multi-issue organizing to promote race, class, and gender justice and to create policy outcomes in our communities.
  5. Assure that ROP is sustainable in both leadership and funding.
  
1. Expand rural grassroots progressive power through our human dignity groups.  Power is the simple act of being able to get what you want. It’s neutral. Now what you want to do with power is not neutral. For ROP, we want power to enfranchise people. We think the best way to do that is to create local human dignity groups in every small town community that are easy to find, function as movement centers to a variety of timely causes and are seeking to grow local power that is then connected in cross county lines.
  • Map and analyze the distribution of power in no less than six communities each year; resulting in campaign work plans with each of these group’s leadership team
  • Evaluate each component of ROP for intentional efforts to build power.
  • Discuss how power (and solidarity, discipline) are core to enacting progressive policy outcomes at all ROP gatherings like the Caucus and board retreat, and weave these concepts into ROP’s vision, current program work and communication systems: ropnets, web site, KTAs and STAND newsletter.

 

2. Support human dignity groups in expanding their capacity to effect social change. Time poverty and stressed communities means that many organizations find just a few people attempting to do too much. Without capacity, the systems to reduce repetitive work, the people trained and motivated to meet the group mission, the group does less and frustration grows.

  • Assess local human dignity groups and ROP programs to ensure ROP resources are focused on member groups with an articulated and agreed-upon plan for capacity building; work with local groups to develop the three structural basics of leadership team, communication systems and organizing action plans.
  • Ensure ROP staff works closely with 3-10 specific human dignity groups for defined cycles of time to assist the groups in meeting benchmarks for local capacity growth.
  • Ensure at least one anchor group exists in each region.

 

3. Break rural isolation in all 36 counties. Isolation limits development of beloved community as fewer people volunteer, see the benefits of civic participation or even know how to get involved. Technology can reduce isolation especially when coupled with genuine efforts to build ongoing relationships. Such civic outreach is nothing new to human dignity groups but creating a process to pair systems with people so that we can track our outreach, is new, exciting and cumbersome. The objectives make manageable steps towards a new era of community building with an old concept of welcome wagons.

  • Broaden the “Welcome Wagon” approach of human dignity groups to recruit an annually agreed number of new contacts into ongoing relationship with local group and ROP. Set, track and assess cumulative goals for repeat outreach.
  • Track relationship building as an organizing tool (sit-down coffees and living-room conversations) through data base recording and reporting.
  • Create plans with targeted groups to resolve barriers to movement growth, including quality communication style, skill-building on distribution, training, and one-on-one mentoring and support.
  • Enhance the ability of technology to capture new and existing relationships by annually reviewing the ROP database to measure growth and make refinements.
  • Use the ROP office as a hub for supporting local database development and maintaining back-up databases for local groups. Develop a statement of principles on database use, purpose and process.
  • Explore use of new database technology, such as the Center for Commnity Change voter file database, to find new contacts to approach for on-going relationships that expand the political education circle of human dignity groups and ROP.

 

4. Use multi-issue organizing to promote race, class, and gender justice and to create policy outcomes in our communities. Policies inscribe societal commitments, how we will behave, what we can expect, what we value. Ultimately, progressive social change is institutionalized politically and culturally in the policies adopted. ROP pledges to work towards policy outcomes that use a race, class, gender justice lens to entrench democracy for all. And to prioritize the political education need for ourselves to be vigilant of dominant culture.

  • Analyze and describe how ROP is unique in make-up, values and focus and our associated strategic advantages in organizing for human dignity, peace and justice so that it shapes how we proceed in ranking campaigns and issues; i.e., what do we bring to each issue that is uniquely valuable?
  • Record and communicate the story of how and why ROP makes the links between issues of human dignity, peace, and social, economic, gender, and racial justice.
  • Develop tools and a shared language for the ROP story to be used by all human dignity groups and insure that one anchor group per region is adept at telling the story.
  • Help human dignity groups create their own stories that focus on local history, issues and attitudes; and speak meaningfully to the local community.
  • Create and implement a framework, incorporating our core values and unique attributes, that ROP and local human dignity groups will use to evaluate and determine which campaigns or issues to work on and to design our programs.

 

5. Assure that ROP’s organizational health is sustainable in both leadership and funding.  Creating the world we envision will require time, the patience to measure progress in decades and the commitment to imagine the organization and systems we need to keep warriors for justice active – in short, it requires seeing a plan for our own health as important as the health for the world community. ROP commits to focusing on growing our own resources so that rural Oregonians can know that an organization by and for them will be around over the long haul.

  • Create an annual plan for economic sustainability that explores new foundations, incorporates fees for service, explores creative revenue options, and expands our grassroots donor base; track successes in each category through year-end; ensure annual Board review of revenue sources compared to prior years.
  • Engage leadership and human dignity groups in grassroots fundraising for the ROP.
  • Create a plan to better integrate among fundraising into staff workplans and program work. Promote staff members and our expanding leadership circle to meet annual, individual goals.
  • Design and implement ROP’s programs to offer a range of approaches to develop leadership mastery of ROP’s organizing principles and practices; evaluate the programs and results at each annual Caucus.
  • Recruit and develop 3 -5 new leaders in each District or region per year; support their growth to lead effective human dignity groups and ROP.
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ROP Goals and Objectives 2008-2013

Rural Organizing Project Goals and Objectives 2008-2013

Expand rural grassroots progressive power through our human dignity groups.  Power is the simple act of being able to get what you want. It’s neutral. Now what you want to do with power is not neutral. For ROP, we want power to enfranchise people. We think the best way to do that is to create local human dignity groups in every small town community that are easy to find, function as movement centers to a variety of timely causes and are seeking to grow local power that is then connected in cross county lines.

  1. Map and analyze the distribution of power in no less than six communities each year; resulting in campaign work plans with each of these group’s leadership team
  2. Evaluate each component of ROP for intentional efforts to build power.
  3. Discuss how power (and solidarity, discipline) are core to enacting progressive policy outcomes at all ROP gatherings like the Caucus and board retreat, and weave these concepts into ROP’s vision, current program work and communication systems: ropnets, web site, KTAs and STAND newsletter.

Support human dignity groups in expanding their capacity to effect social change. Time poverty and stressed communities means that many organizations find just a few people attempting to do too much. Without capacity, the systems to reduce repetitive work, the people trained and motivated to meet the group mission, the group does less and frustration grows.

  1. Assess local human dignity groups and ROP programs to ensure ROP resources are focused on member groups with an articulated and agreed-upon plan for capacity building; work with local groups to develop the three structural basics of leadership team, communication systems and organizing action plans.
  2. Ensure ROP staff works closely with 3-10 specific human dignity groups for defined cycles of time to assist the groups in meeting benchmarks for local capacity growth.
  3. Ensure at least one anchor group exists in each region.

Break rural isolation in all 36 counties. Isolation limits development of beloved community as fewer people volunteer, see the benefits of civic participation or even know how to get involved. Technology can reduce isolation especially when coupled with genuine efforts to build ongoing relationships. Such civic outreach is nothing new to human dignity groups but creating a process to pair systems with people so that we can track our outreach, is new, exciting and cumbersome. The objectives make manageable steps towards a new era of community building with an old concept of welcome wagons.

  1. Broaden the “Welcome Wagon” approach of human dignity groups to recruit an annually agreed number of new contacts into ongoing relationship with local group and ROP. Set, track and assess cumulative goals for repeat outreach.
  2. Track relationship building as an organizing tool (sit-down coffees and living-room conversations) through data base recording and reporting.
  3. Create plans with targeted groups to resolve barriers to movement growth, including quality communication style, skill-building on distribution, training, and one-on-one mentoring and support.
  4. Enhance the ability of technology to capture new and existing relationships by annually reviewing the ROP database to measure growth and make refinements.
  5. Use the ROP office as a hub for supporting local database development and maintaining back-up databases for local groups. Develop a statement of principles on database use, purpose and process.
  6. Explore use of new database technology, such as the Center for Commnity Change voter file database, to find new contacts to approach for on-going relationships that expand the political education circle of human dignity groups and ROP.

Use multi-issue organizing to promote race, class, gender justice to create policy outcomes in our communities. Policies inscribe societal commitments, how we will behave, what we can expect, what we value. Ultimately, progressive social change is institutionalized politically and culturally in the policies adopted. ROP pledges to work towards policy outcomes that use a race, class, gender justice lens to entrench democracy for all. And to prioritize the political education need for ourselves to be vigilant of dominant culture.

  1. Analyze and describe how ROP is unique in make-up, values and focus and our associated strategic advantages in organizing for human dignity, peace and justice so that it shapes how we proceed in ranking campaigns and issues; i.e., what do we bring to each issue that is uniquely valuable?
  2. Record and communicate the story of how and why ROP makes the links between issues of human dignity, peace, and social, economic, gender, and racial justice.
  3. Develop tools and a shared language for the ROP story to be used by all human dignity groups and insure that one anchor group per region is adept at telling the story.
  4. Help human dignity groups create their own stories that focus on local history, issues and attitudes; and speak meaningfully to the local community.
  5. Create and implement a framework, incorporating our core values and unique attributes, that ROP and local human dignity groups will use to evaluate and determine which campaigns or issues to work on and to design our programs.

Assure that ROP’s organizational health is sustainable in both leadership and funding. Creating the world we envision will require time, the patience to measure progress in decades and the commitment to imagine the organization and systems we need to keep warriors for justice active – in short, it requires seeing a plan for our own health as important as the health for the world community. ROP commits to focusing on growing our own resources so that rural Oregonians can know that an organization by and for them will be around over the long haul.

  1. Create an annual plan for economic sustainability that explores new foundations, incorporates fees for service, explores creative revenue options, and expands our grassroots donor base; track successes in each category through year-end; ensure annual Board review of revenue sources compared to prior years.
  2. Engage leadership and human dignity groups in grassroots fundraising for the ROP.
  3. Create a plan to better integrate among fundraising into staff workplans and program work. Promote staff members and our expanding leadership circle to meet annual, individual goals.
  4. Design and implement ROP’s programs to offer a range of approaches to develop leadership mastery of ROP’s organizing principles and practices; evaluate the programs and results at each annual Caucus.
  5. Recruit and develop 3 -5 new leaders in each District or region per year; support their growth to lead effective human dignity groups and ROP.
     

 

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Jan 2009 KTA: Resolve to Make Change in 09

Endorse ROP’s Legislative Platform The ROP Legislative Platform represents the priorities of our member groups, the needs that our communities face, and the strategic opportunities for our human dignity movement. Since we shared our draft platform with you last month, many of you have written to share what you want to see on this platform. […]

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What do we want?!

We are for justice. We are against the war. We are in favor of human rights. We are opposed to corruption and brutality.

Progressives often talk about our missions in very broad terms, not surprising considering our 30-second spot culture. However, in these first months of 2009 and especially in these first days of January we have the opportunity to describe specifically what it is we want and when it is we want it. (JUSTICE! … NOW! Just kidding.)

There are many things that ROP will demand of our new national and state leadership. One thing is Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The National Council of La Raza and the National Immigration Fourm are circulating a sign-on letter for organizations that reminds our elected officials that we want a speedy and just resolution to the immigration mess. Add your organization to this national sign-on letter to push for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

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Campaign to Keep National Guard in Oregon

Back in June of 2003, ROP coordinated a weeklong Walk for Truth, Justice and Community that involved thousands of Oregonians. Walkers and their supporters were outraged by current policies entrenching not just wars abroad but also wars at home. We marched from our starting point in Salem to take over the Governor’s office with veterans and military families at the front of the room. We were there to demand that the Governor show some backbone regarding the role of the Oregon National Guard and other Oregon resources being deployed in the war/occupation. Later that week, he delivered his strongest statement yet in opposition to the war in Iraq. The war has spiraled into an occupation with no sign of an end. Let’s turn up the heat in Oregon to prevent further deployments.

Oregon peace and justice groups in June of 2008 join with similar groups across the nation for parallel state efforts to reduce the flow of resources to the wars/occupations. Let’s gather signatures that show just how fed up Oregonians are with the so called war on terror. And then let’s plan a time to reconvene (with or with out a formal invitation) back in the Governor’s office in Salem.

Here’s what it says on the petition:

To the elected officials in the state of Oregon: We, the undersigned, urge you to take the steps necessary to prevent the further deployment of Oregon’s National Guard to Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • The Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq (2002) is based on Iraq having weapons of mass destruction, harboring Al Qaida members responsible for 9/11, and enforcing UN resolutions against Saddam Hussein’s regime, reasons which were never or are no longer valid.
  • The Authorization for Use of Military Force of September 2001, which launched the "War on Terror," is overly broad and has allowed the US to occupy Afghanistan and conduct airstrikes on other countries while chipping away Americans’ human, civil and constitutional rights.
  • Oregonians have shown a desire to bring the troops home: 61 elected officials from 27 counties signed a letter to President Bush in September, 2007; the Oregon State House and Senate passed resolutions in March and May, 2007; the cities of Corvallis, Portland and Eugene passed similar resolutions in 2006 and 2007; thousands of Oregonians have written letters, postcards and emails, made phone calls, marched and protested.
  • Governor Ted Kulongoski told the Oregonian in October, 2006 that he believes the continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq "is making things worse" and that the U.S. should set a strict timetable for getting out.
  • Legislation to de-federalize the Guard due to the expiration of the Iraq AUMF has been introduced in Vermont, New Jersey, and several other states.
  • Oregon needs its National Guard to respond to forest fires and natural disasters and for search and rescue missions.

Download a copy of the petition to ciruclate in your community.

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Thank You, Dear ROPers!

Read ROP’s 2008 Letter to Members and our 2008 Annual Report. December 2008 Dear Friends and Supporters, The year 2008 has been full of hope, excitement, and change. But as our new president said on November 4th, “This victory alone is not the change we seek – it is only the chance for us to […]

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Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful!

What a week it has been!  At the ROP office our highlights of the week include our pipes freezing and towing the ROP car from the ditch.  (Feel free to let that inspire you to get your much needed donation in the mail to us or at www.rop.org!)

Despite these challenges, we have been delighting at the winter wonderland outside of our windows.  But for many people in our communities, when you really have no place to go, it’s more of a nightmare than wonderland out there.  In Forest Grove, several area churches and community groups, including volunteers from ROP member group West County Council for Human Dignity have created their own Miracle on College Way…

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Dec 2008 KTA: Meet and Greet for a New Progressive Politics

Introducing your Elected Officials to your Human Dignity Group

After every election cycle, ROP encourages local groups to sit down with their newly (re)elected officials, orient them to your group, and initiate/deepen a relationship.  Even if your group knows your state legislators already, a formal meeting establishes a working relationship for policy decisions.  These gatherings can be as simple as one or two human dignity group leaders having coffee for 30 minutes with your newly elected official or setting aside time to meet with him/her during your group’s regular December or January meeting.  The goal is to get on the radar of your elected officials and to build a relationship that lasts through the legislative session.

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