Rural Organizing Project Goals and Objectives 2008-2013

  1. Expand rural grassroots progressive power through our human dignity groups. 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.
  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.
    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.
  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.
    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.
  4. 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.
  5. Assure that ROP’s organizational health is sustainable in both leadership and funding. 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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Aug 2008 KTA: Making Our STAND: Order ROP Voter Guides by August 15th.

This month’s Kitchen Table Activism is to make your order for ROP’s Voter Guide, STAND: Small Town Actions for New Democracy.  Our voter guide – designed by and for small town and rural voters – is renowned for breaking down confusing ballot initiatives and making tough issues accessible all within a pro-democracy, common sense framework that appeals to a broad spectrum of the community.  

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Host a Movie Night

Bringing together a group of people in your community to view a film on immigration is a great way to start a discussion on a very timely topic. Most of the films listed below can be borrowed for free from ROP’s film library. Contact us with the date you would like to show the film and your top choice and we will get the film to you in time for your local movie night. Email to reserve a film today.

ROP’s Recommended Immigration Film Resources:

UPROOTED: Refugees of the Global Economy is a compelling documentary about how the global economy has forced people to leave their home countries. UPROOTED presents three stories of immigrants who left their homes in Bolivia, Haiti, and the Philippines after global economic powers devastated their countries, only to face new challenges in the United States. These powerful stories raise critical questions about U.S. immigration policy in an era when corporations cross borders at will. (28 minutes) Sign up to borrow this film from ROP (we will ship it to you!) or purchase it online. $20 + $3.50 shipping.

Wetback: The Undocumented Documentary
Persistent massive unemployment has left millions of Central Americans desperately impoverished, with little choice but to migrate to jobs in Canada and the U.S. Wetback is a powerful record of the journey of five Nicaraguans, with no documents and little money, as they make their way north on a dangerous journey. This harrowing film examines the paradox of the “wetback” worker the closer they get to the elusive “free world,” the less free they are and the more “illegal” they become. Following immigrants from Central America and Mexico on often extremely dangerous journeys to North America, Wetback examines the complexities of the immigration issues facing people on both sides of the border. From the U.S. patrol guarding the border to the immigrants risking their lives to cross it, Wetback focuses on the many obstacles in their way, including gangs and vigilantes, to expose the larger problems behind immigration rhetoric. (87 minutes) Borrow this film from ROP or purchase it online. $20.

Oregon Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride
In October 2003, 18 buses of immigrant workers and allies traveled across the country and converged in Washington DC and New York City to lobby and demonstrate for the rights of 31 million immigrants. This film tells the story of the 47 Freedom riders that rode the bus from Oregon across the country. The bus carried immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, China, Taiwan, Palestine, the Philippines, and Siberia as well as African American and white supporters. Follow the riders, rally in communities across the country, and visit the halls of Congress with them as they share their stories of why they chose to spend 12 days on a bus to stand up for the rights and human dignity of immigrants. (1 hour) Borrow this film from ROP or purchase by contacting or 503-543-8417. $15 + shipping.

Rights on the Line: Vigilantes at the Border
“Rights on the Line: Vigilantes at the Border” exposes the ugly anti-immigrant politics that lurk behind the Minuteman Project – and shows the continuum between official border militarization and vigilante action. This video was shot by human rights activists and residents of border communities. It tells the story of border tensions from the point of view of those affected and reveals the underlying motivations of the vigilantes through interviews and disturbing footage of their nighttime patrols. Purchase this film online:


CLICK HERE to Download Poster (.pdf)

CLICK HERE to download Adobe Acrobat Reader (free)

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What is Kitchen Table Activism?

Kitchen Table Activism (KTA) is a monthly project of the Rural Organizing Project. Often building on quarterly themes, short actions are described in each KTA. The theory is that basic steps and tasks can lead to powerful collective results as small groups of people gather to complete the same action throughout the state of Oregon. ROP works to keep the basic tasks easily achievable so that groups with other projects or groups with limited immediate energy can still manage to complete the KTA each month.

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Dismantling the War at Home and Abroad

Dismantling the War at Home and Abroad:
As we work to advance our progressive vision of rural Oregon founded in true democracy, human dignity, and justice, we see the war at home and abroad as our barrier. We are working to dismantle this war and the common systems and inequalities in power that have created the global war on “terror”, the war in Iraq, and subsequent erosion of civil liberties, breakdown of the safety net, and targeting of immigrant communities. Our overarching strategy is to build a growing movement of rural people committed global justice, peace, and real democracy that will be the undoing of all these wars. Read more about the War at Home and Abroad

On April 26, join your peers from around the state for a day of strategizing to Dismantle the War at Home and Abroad in 2008 at the Rural Caucus & Strategy Session. Together we will be developing next steps for building our movement in 2008, getting the cost of war back into the headlines, inserting a Cost of War message into the election cycle and more. Read more and register here.

Tools for your local Co$t of War Campaign
* Read Naomi Wolf’s Letter to a Young Patriot and start a study circle in your community
* Expand your local Cost of War movement by building relationships with those most impacted by the Cost of War through social service agencies
* Ask your community’s elected officials to sign onto a letter calling for the defunding of the war in Iraq. Letter available in Word or PDF
* Starting a Student Opt Out campaign
* Oregon Eyes Wide Open exhibit

Local Organizing Highlights
Over 60 Oregon elected officials have signed onto a letter calling for a defunding of the war in Iraq Read more

Rural Women Arrested while demanding Congressman Walden vote against war funding Read more

The Co$t of War campaign in 2006 & 2007: Constituents from across their district came together for People’s Town Halls on the Cost of War. Testimonials from Iraq veterans, military families in mourning, teachers, nurses, immigrants, youth, County Commissioners, and City Councilors held up the personal experiences and the community impact of lives destroyed by a war that has cost billions while social services and programs go unfunded here at home. Read more about the history of the Co$t of War campaign.

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Report from the Caucus and Strategy Session 2008

We were reminded that in this election year beyond every mountain is a mountain, but whether we are heading uphill, as we have over the last 8 years, or rounding a summit, or able to catch our breaths a little on the backside, we are in this for the long haul and we are needed for the long haul.

There was a genuine sense that people were coming together around the need to refocus and educate voters on the basic tenets that make us truly free, rather than operating in some sort of reactionary mode. They seemed to grasp that such an approach is the only real way to have any durable and sustaining impact on turning things around. The thing I enjoyed the most was being in the midst of such truly positive and healing energy. – Jeff Rogers, Columbia County Citizens for Human Dignity

We then shared (amongst friends) what we hate about elections – the focus on the trivial, the money wasted, the lack of good media coverage of issues we care about – and what we love – for once people are talking politics and what an opportunity this year with record highs of new voters and enthusiasm for the possibility of politics! From there, we dove into ROP’s electoral machine with heart based on repeat contacts with voters that build relationships with voters to get out the vote for justice, but grow our base of human dignity activists who are connected to our groups beyond election day. The guests of ROP’s own “Days of the Lives of Human Dignity Group Activists” walked us through the basics tools and tactics and then we broke into Congressional District groups to talk about how we would apply this in our local human dignity groups and our collective power and goals as a district. See below for more details!

One highlight for me was the “ah-ha” moment of understanding our civic engagement project as an opportunity to build and energize SOD (our local human dignity group). I finally got that door-knocking doesn’t have to be about changing minds, confronting nay-sayers, or getting votes for an issue or candidate. I got that, using the ROP tools, door knocking can be a litmus test for potential members and first step in connecting with new people to build our membership, our mission and community awareness. I don’t dread it anymore. – Ann Kneeland, Seeking Out Democracy, Junction City

Our keynote speakers opened the afternoon with a talk that outlined the way that racism and wedge politics of fear and division have been used over time to diminish democracy and give way to more authoritarian government – and how these same tactics are being put into place in this election year through ballot measures that would target immigrants and expand prisons through mandatory minimum sentences.

Re-hearing the history of racism in our Oregon history is a sobering reminder I was VERY pleased to have a great rebuttal to lies about immigration. Now I need to memorize them. People are hearing distortions and lies and think that is the truth. – Martin Mijal, Portland Ally and Grant County Supporter

Afternoon sessions gave folks a chance to delve deeper into conversations and strategy about the key issues of the day: Organizing to Stop Immigration Backlash, Wrapping Ourselves in the Bill of Rights, and Those Wars Abroad: Peace Track.

The Peace Track focused on establishment of a Media Center that could be a long term tool for progressive messaging on why the wars at home and abroad reflect failed policy and what concrete, pro-democracy policies look like. A new idea that ROP is exploring in advance of the big election cycle that folks endorsed was exposing and documenting whether the numerous new small town military recruitment centers were, in fact, in compliance with legal mandates to actively offer every person they have contact with a chance to resister to vote. Stay tuned for more details!

I attended the Peace Track. I liked the way Mike motivated us to get the war back on the front page and connecting it to every other issue! This is so important and the establishment of the media center should be a great way to make this happen. I also got lots of tips to work with media. Excellent. – Kathy Paterno, Human Dignity Advocates, Crook County

Organizing to Stop Immigration Backlash allowed local leaders to share stories of how critical and difficult responding to this human dignity crisis is – and to discuss tools and strategies that have been successful. The group affirmed the different roles and significant relationship between the Latino community and non-immigrant and white allies in rural Oregon. Tools for inoculating our membership, our extended base, and our community at large against anti-immigrant arguments and myths was especially valued in this election year. Everyone agreed a Rapid Response structure was needed that was integrated into ongoing human dignity organizing but that would respond to anti-immigrant sentiment whether a local ordinance, letter to the editor, or immigration raid. ROP’s Immigration Fairness Network email list ( will be used as a site for resource sharing and discussion.

It was a good reminder for me to update our Rapid Response info and … better collaborate on responding to the kind of one-at-a-time harassment, incarceration and deportation that Brad Porterfield (from Latino Community Association) was reporting. That is so scary-sounding… to have a loved one singled out and picked up and sent someplace in the middle of the night but you don’t know where or what you can do. There has to be some way within local areas to monitor and track that so that individual families can have support (and ICE will be forced to be more transparent). – Betsy Lamb, Code Pink Bend and Interfaith in Action for Justice

The Bill of Rights Session focused on affirming the framework of the Bill of Rights as a tool to 1) identify how our democracy is doing, 2) engage our communities in the state of our democracy (and how close it has moved to authoritarianism), 3) use this framework to talk through tough issues (a backdoor to immigration issues) and 4) practice using the Freedom Voters kit as the tool to engage our communities in this conversation through the election cycle.

I attended the Bill of Rights session and found out that this might be a good way to unite with other groups that do not necessarily think the same way on other topics. – Denise Steffenhagan, Human Dignity Advocates, Crook County

At the close of the day, we literally sang our way at the door and in the words of Woody Guthrie encouraged our movement, just like the might Columbia, to roll on!

Being involved with ROP is like a shot in the arm. I can take back all the collective knowledge & experience I absorbed while I was there. It was wonderful. – Dian Courtwright, Concerned Citizens of Coquille, Coos County

To access the tools and plans to help your human dignity group roll on this election year, go to, check out this month’s Kitchen Table Activism contact ROP at or 503-543-8417.

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Dismantling the War at Home and Abroad

During WWII, African American soldiers would wave a Double V for victory abroad over the Nazis and victory at home over racism. Similarly today, while we are working to stop the war in Iraq, there is a domestic front to that war being waged here at home on the poorest and most vulnerable members of our community. All of this in the name of "security." And all of this to the benefit of the same private corporate contractor few that claim to do security well, never mind civil liberties or human rights or economic justice.

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