Building Power Through Rural Organizing
In the last few years, from Georgia to Wisconsin and beyond, we’ve seen that organizing between urban and rural communities around shared progressive values builds long-term power. But in this gerrymandered and divided moment, we often don’t have the relationships or experience necessary for organizing across these differences.
Building Power Through Rural Organizing is a new legislator-only CROP work group to build these connections and find solutions. Join us to explore current progressive organizing in rural communities; examine stereotypes; deepen relationships with rural, urban, and suburban colleagues; share successes and failures; and talk through strategies on how to organize with rural communities to create effective policy for all of us.
- Working Group Overview: Who / Why / What
- Rural Resources
- Rural Perspectives: News / Books / Podcasts
Working Group Overview: Who / Why / What:
Who is this working group for? Progressive state legislators from all kinds of districts who want to engage with rural issues and communities and build rural/urban relationships and power. We will center the voices and experiences of rural legislators – and we highly encourage non-rural legislators to join to learn from, connect with, and build together with your progressive rural colleagues.
This working group is only open to members of the Cohort for Rural Opportunity and Prosperity. Please join the Cohort for Rural Opportunity and Prosperity (CROP) to participate, if you are not already a member.
Why join this working group?
- To win the progressive change our country needs, we all must work together.
- Rural communities around the US have been struggling for decades. Many have never recovered from the 2008 Recession. The decline of manufacturing, mining, and family farming has left few good jobs or other opportunities. While the left has concentrated in cities and suburbs, the right has taken advantage of very real rural pain, and in many regions, spun it into fear and racism. The millionaire-funded extremist right has often used rural communities to pilot their extreme agenda. With many fewer resources, progressive rural groups have long been outgunned.
- The majority of the US population lives in cities, but our political system gives more weight to rural voices through the Senate and other mechanisms.
- It doesn’t have to be this way. Polling indicates that progressive values resonate in rural communities all around the country.
- State legislators are uniquely positioned to build these bridges, but they do not always know how. Progressive rural legislators report that they feel isolated from their mostly-urban progressive colleagues, while urban members tell us they are not sure how to engage in rural areas. This group will bring us together, providing resources, learning, and community for all.
What are the details of the working group?
- Bimonthly virtual meetings, with a guest speaker or discussion topic.
- Confidential moderated listserv for discussion, resource sharing, action ideas, trouble-shooting.
- A Rural Caucus for legislators who identify as rural and/or represent rural districts, to build community and peer-to-peer support.
- SiX Blueprint for Rural Policy Action in the States: Includes communications toolkits to help with values-based messaging with rural audiences.
- Want to know who is organizing in the rural areas of your state? Check out our list of aligned organizations, and let us know if you’d like us to make an introduction.
- Winning Jobs Narrative
Rural Perspectives: News / Books / Podcasts:
From newspapers to magazines, most media is produced in and for urban areas. For an alternate view, check these out:
- Demon Copperhead, Barbara Kingsolver
- Heartland, Sarah Smarsh (her journalism also offers a view not often seen in major papers)
- Dirt Road Revival, Chloe Maxmin & Canyon Woodard (Chloe Maxmin works as a consultant for the SiX Agriculture and Food Systems team)
- The Farmer’s Lawyer, Sarah Vogel
- Farming While Black, Leah Penniman
- Dispossession, Pete Daniels
- Anything by Wendell Berry (and check out The Berry Center)