By Shar Lichty
A few years ago, Liz and I had the privilege of visiting some amazing groups of rural progressives to do voter education around seven important ballot initiatives concerning revenue. We have since been wanting to make another round of visits but haven’t quite figured out when to squeeze them into our busy schedules. Last spring a couple of our interns and myself went to Seattle to attend a conference on rural organizing and I left feeling a sense of urgency around re-launching our rural organizing efforts.
Having worked on a few “statewide” campaigns I understand the importance of progressives in Eastern WA and sometimes experience frustration with groups on the west side of the mountains who seem to lack this understanding. Eastern WA is much more than just Spokane, it is a broad region full of vibrant rural communities who are vital to moving any progressive issue forward. As such, I am excited that we are making plans to take PJALS on the road this summer to visit some of these communities, strengthen our relationships there, and find out if there are ways PJALS can support organizing efforts in them.
I spent most of my time in Washington living and working in a rural community and remember how disconnected I often felt as it seemed I was surrounded by folks who didn’t think like me. The truth is there were probably many more folks feeling the same way—we just didn’t know each other! Following the model of the Rural Organizing Project (ROP) in Oregon, we would love to connect folks in rural communities around coordinated ways to take action. ROP calls them Kitchen Table Activities; they are fantastic and we would love to share what we’ve learned so far.
We are in the very early stages of planning and would love to hear any input our rural folks have, including information on any events this summer we should know about and attend when possible. Are you one of the many PJALS folks living in rural Eastern WA? Would you like us to visit your community? If so, please contact me at [email protected].