For over twenty years, the Rural Organizing Project (ROP) has supported the grassroots movement for social justice in rural and small-town Oregon. Since the early 1990s, Human Dignity Groups (HDGs) have been stirring up resistance and hope across the state, upholding rural progressive values and working to create a truly inclusive democracy. HDGs developed out of the bitter electoral struggle to defeat anti-queer ballot measures during the period of 1991-94. They were the response of rural progressive-minded people to the fundamentalist right-wing organizing that was happening in small-town Oregon. ROP has served as a critical link and catalyst to this network, offering local groups leadership development, capacity-building and strategic connections. Over time, ROP has built up a strong and united rural progressive infrastructure—unique in its geographic breadth and in its multi-issue, movement-building frame.
The stories, lessons, victories, and mistakes of our organizing past offer insight and vision that can inform our organizing future. In that spirit, we offer a set of curated collections of organizing wisdom, anecdotes, tools, and stories. Each collection explores a topic core to the ROP model and work of rural community organizing through interview excerpts, archival documents, videos, images and essays. We hope these collections will help you reflect on your own organizing approach and challenges.
Starting from Shared Values
Why values, not issues, are an effective way to build a large base to respond to attacks or move an agenda in communities. How to identify, own and use shared values in organizing? More »
Creating a Human Dignity Group
What is the most core component of community organizing infrastructure? How do you build it and maintain it? More »
A grassroots base needs local leaders to motivate, coordinate and represent them. But how to find and then support leaders? More »
Political Analysis and Education
Kitchen tables, living rooms, and other casual settings can allow a formal process for shedding cultural baggage and gaining skills to use a race, class and gender lens to transform the same old issues into inclusive values for organizing a different future. More »
What is the role of civic engagement in building effective community groups and strengthening movements for the long haul? How can we anticipate pitfalls, veer towards rewards and yet complete the endless components so that they yield cumulative results? More »
Building a Statewide Network
Breaking rural isolation and building collective power county-by-county. What does it take to build, maintain and mobilize a statewide network of rural and small town progressives? More »