News from Oregon Rural Action

2016 Annual Meeting and Dinner

It’s almost here! We are looking forward to seeing you at the Annual Meeting & Dinner on Saturday, October 8. This year’s gathering is taking place at the Union County Senior Center in La Grande from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m.  Let’s celebrate ORA’s accomplishments, catch up with old friends and welcome our new members as we share news from ORA chapters and issue groups, elect new board members, and strategize together the course Oregon Rural Action will take in 2017.

Plan to stay into the evening and enjoy the dinner prepared by Sydney Gleeson and the Community Connections staff while listening to the great sounds of Bag of Hammers with Luke McKern and Holly Sorensen. Cost of dinner is $20.00, with proceeds going back into the community to benefit the Senior Meals Program. Please call the ORA office at 541-975-2411 to register, or return the registration form mailed out earlier this month. Registrations due by Sept. 30.

Principles of Community Organizing Workshop

This year, as part of our annual meeting, we are happy to offer members the opportunity to participate in a Principles of Community Action workshop. Conducted by Kevin Williams, Deputy Director for the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC), this nationally acclaimed half-day workshop will focus on effective strategies for grassroots change.

The workshop will take place on Saturday, October 8 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Union County Senior Center.  Enrollment for the workshop is limited to 35 participants, so register as soon as possible. The workshop is free for ORA members and $15.00 for non-members, with lunch included. To register, call the ORA office at 541-975-2411 or return the registration form mailed out to all members earlier this month. (Didn’t get anything from us in the mail? Call the office to make sure we have your most recent address on file!)


News from the Blue Mountain Chapter

Blue Mountain Chapter Meeting, Potluck and Officer Election

The next meeting of the Blue Mountain Chapter is taking place on Tuesday, September 13 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the Oregon Rural Action office at 1119 Washington Ave. La Grande.  Please bring a dish to share and come prepared to vote in three new members of the Executive Committee: Chair, Vice Chair, and Chapter Representative to the ORA Board of Directors. If you’re interested in nominating yourself or others for any of these important roles, please contact Naomi Tuinstra, Blue Mountain Chapter Secretary, for more details at naomi.ann.tuinstra@gmail.com.

Presentation: Moderating Effects of Climate Change in Eastern Oregon

Long-time ORA Energy Team member and wind farm developer Randy Joseph will speak about potential impacts of climate change in eastern Oregon and the opportunities for rural counties to help moderate the effects on our forest lands, both public and private. Free and open to the public, Randy’s presentation will take place on Monday, September 12, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. at La Grande Public Library Community Room.

Campaign & Issue Team Updates

Energy Team

Recent work by the energy team revolved around the possibility of a grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust. The grant would have funded the development of a business plan for affordable housing equipped with community solar.  Residents of that housing would have an equity stake in that development. They would either own a share of the community solar project, or they would get reduced energy bills from those solar panels. OTEC agreed to work with us and to have the housing become a test bed for their smart meters.

We did not get the grant, but we did get detailed information about just such business models from the Rocky Mountain Institute, which is what our financial investors would be looking for! We will be meeting to develop a capital project to build such housing using one of these models this winter. The involved parties include long-time members of Oregon Rural Action, Union County, OTEC, with the possibility of EOU and the NE Oregon Housing Authority also being participants. If you’d like to know more, please contact normcimon@gmail.com.

Food & Ag Policy Team

The Blue Mountain Chapter Food & Ag Policy Team has been busy this summer tabling for ORA and surveying folks about local food and letting people know about the SNAP Match program at regional farmer’s markets that matches a portion of benefit dollars used at the markets. Members have tabled at Free Family Fun Day in Riverside Park in La Grande, the Grassroots Festival in Union, The Cherry Fair in Cove, and at the La Grande Farmer’s Market.

As part of the tabling, the group is holding a free drawing for two winners to receive a $25.00 gift certificate to Community Merchants in La Grande. They are also talking with folks generally about ORA and assessing people’s interests to see who else might be interested in getting involved with ORA and becoming a member. The group has also been actively seeking new team members. They gave away four pies to new attendees at the last meeting.

Going forward the team plans to continue supporting efforts, such as those at EOU, to get institutional buy-in for sourcing food locally. They also continue to oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that benefits large multinational corporations at the expense of workers, people, and the planet. To learn more about these issues or to get involved, attend the next BMC Food & Ag Policy Team meeting Wednesday September 21st from 6-7:20pm at the ORA office or contact Austin Saunders at 541-975-2411 for more details on how you can join the efforts.



The La Grande Community Garden

The Community Garden has been thriving this year, with both beginner and veteran gardeners.  We have a full house, with 54 plots and over 30 gardeners.  Even mid-season, as some plots have been given up, there were people ready to take over the plots.  We’ve seen successes with eager volunteer participation, enhanced overall appearance of the Garden, improved signage; and a few downfalls with poor tomato performance and some food theft.

This summer we held a class for weed and garden plant ID, and are planning a harvest potluck this fall.  Also in the works is updating procedures and deadlines to make the pre-season sign-up process more streamlined.  The Committee continues to hope that gardeners — both new and experienced — will be interested in joining the Committee to help steer the future development of the garden, and serve as Monthly Coordinators to oversee the everyday operation of the garden: a great opportunity to meet and interact with other gardeners.

We welcome all members to take a stroll through the garden, introduce themselves to some of our gardeners, and see what’s growing!


ORA’s Health Care Reform Action Team

On the local front Oregon Rural Action’s Health Care Reform Action Team will be sponsoring showings of the movie, Fix It: Healthcare at the Tipping Point.  The movie is intended for the small business community about the benefits of single-payer health care for both the businesses and their employees’ families.  Our team will be reaching out to small businesses in Union and Wallowa Counties this fall. Film showings are tentatively scheduled for the week of November 14th.  If any member can help the Action Team with event logistics and/or the outreach/marketing to small business owners, please contact Bill Whitaker bill@oregonrural.org 541-805-5681.  We need YOU!

What’s the status of Single-payer reform in Oregon?  This fall, we await the release of the much anticipated study prepared for the Oregon State Legislature by the Rand Corp, which will reveal the best service delivery and financial plan to attain Health Care for All Oregonians!  The statewide Health Care for All Oregon (HCAO) with support from ORA’s Health Care Reform Action Team successfully lobbied for this study in the last legislative session. If results of Oregon’s study are similar to those of other states, a single-payer system will come out on top!  There’s much at stake and a lot that you can do to help.  Please join us and, if you are not already a member of the Health Care Reform Action Team, join today!

While we are waiting to learn the outcome of the study prepared for our state legislature, we support our colleagues in Colorado as they prepare to vote in November on ColoradoCare, the nation’s first truly universal health care system.  The HCAO Board is preparing an action plan to pass a ballot measure in 2020 creating single payer in Oregon. Learn what we are doing now around the state to make this happen! (www.hcao.org)

For more specifics on ColoradoCare, read this editorial by an HCAO activist, Bob Fischer, from Bandon. http://registerguard.com/rg/opinion/34724839-78/single-payer-is-best-option-to-obamacare.html.csp


ORA Joins the “STOP B2H Coalition!”

Recently, both Oregon Rural Action and the Blue Mountain Chapter of ORA, signed-on as organizational members to the “Stop B2H Coalition!”  Stop B2H is a growing alliance of citizen organizations and public officials that are opposed to the 305 mile Boardman to Hemingway 500kv Transmission line.

We are working to stop the approval and construction of an unneeded 305 mile transmission line through Eastern Oregon and Western Idaho, thereby:  protecting environmental, historical and cultural resources; preventing degradation of agricultural and land assets; promoting energy conservation; and supporting the rapid development of new technologies in energy generation, storage and distribution throughout the western region and the USA.

The Coalition is working to:

  1. Challenge Idaho Power’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) conclusion that there is “a need” for additional energy supply in 2025 that can only be met by the construction of this transmission line.
  2. Prevent negative environmental, cultural, health-safety, social and economic impacts to our region. This includes minimizing road construction and noise, protecting wildlife, timber, ranching and farming resources, as well as, scenic, historical and recreational viewsheds which will be impacted by the construction and maintenance of the towers and lines.
  3. Promote rapid deployment of new technologies making the need for highly centralized distribution of power (as well as coal) obsolete.

Any members who can lend assistance to the Coalition or want more information regarding our current strategies, please contact Jim Kreider at stopb2h@gmail.com  … and stay tuned for more ways to get involved!


September-October 2016 Event Calendar

Sept. 8: Racial Justice in Eastern Oregon:  Vigil for Peace, Max Square, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 10: Join EOU’s Speel-Ya Club members in their support for the Standing Rock Community in North Dakota.  Speel-Ya members are organizing a float with the theme, Water Is Life, for the 2016 Pendleton Round-Up Dress-Up Parade. Contact Summer Bryan at 971-409-9749 for more information on how you can participate.

Sept. 12: Randy Joseph: Moderating the Effects of Climate Change in Eastern Oregon, La Grande Public Library Community Room, 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Sept. 13: Blue Mountain Chapter Potluck and Officer Elections, Oregon Rural Action office, 1119 Washington Ave. La Grande, OR, 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Sept. 21: Food and Ag Policy Team Meeting, Oregon Rural Action Office, 1119 Washington Ave. La Grande, OR  6:00 – 7:20 p.m.

Oct. 8: Principles of Community Organizing Workshop, Union County Senior Center, 1504 N. Albany, La Grande, OR  8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Oct. 8: Oregon Rural Action Annual Membership Meeting and Dinner, Union County Senior Center 1504 N. Albany, La Grande, OR 3:00-8:00 p.m.

Oct. 17: Oregon Humanities with EOU Multicultural Center: Power, Privilege and Racial Diversity in Oregon, Eastern Oregon University, Hoke Union Bldg., Room 339 at 3:00 pm

Oct. 20-22: Eastern Oregon Film Festival – Three days of films, community, and conversation taking place at various venues throughout La Grande. Oregon Rural Action will be co-sponsoring the film Boone and facilitating a discussion afterwards. More information about the festival available at http://eofilmfest.com/