In 1992 Marcy Westerling crisscrossed Oregon, logging thousands of miles, visiting hundreds of local human dignity activists, and catalyzing nearly 20 new Human Dignity Groups in rural and small towns across the state. Eventually, these groups would come together to form the Rural Organizing Project.
County-by-County organizing as a “bullshit detector” – we’ve got to be able to find people who care about our message in every single county. Otherwise, what the #%?@ are we doing?
What does it mean to have a “County-by-County” organizing principle? Rural organizing is more than having a meeting once a year in Bend (Oregon’s third largest city outside of the Portland metro area).
How does a group keep momentum after a crisis moment has passed? In the aftermath of intense campaigns to defeat the anti-gay Ballot Measure #9 (1992) and a subsequent rash of similar, county and city-wide initiatives (1993-94), a touring holocaust exhibit not only mobilizes and strengthens local human dignity groups–it helps prepare them for the next crisis.
A critical first task of new Human Dignity Groups is to build a broad base of supporters. Here, ROP Founder Marcy Westerling shares the small town-tailored approach that she and other local leaders used to build lists of supporters in their rural communities.
A how-to guide for ROP’s Kitchen Table Conversation format for facilitating community-based dialogues on tough topics.
A how-to overview of ROP’s “Living Room Conversation” format for political education.
Many of the core elements of ROP’s approach to political education are captured in this short description of ROP’s “Political Education Philosophy & Practices,” written in the mid-1990s.
First launched in 1998, 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.
ROP founder, Marcy Westerling, traces ROP’s style of political education back to her own education through the feminist movement and Oregon’s network of anti-violence advocates.