(Editor’s Note: Viewpoint submissions on this and other topics are always welcome as part of our goal to encourage community discussion and exchange of perspectives.)
Nov. 17, 2018 — Florence Organizes grew out of the Women’s March in 2017 to create a positive movement of self-determination, dignity and respect. We have grown into a group with four central teams including Environmental, Human Rights, Health Care and Education.
These teams identify local and national issues as well as community needs and work to address them through education and direct action. For the most part, we have not directly supported candidates rather than being FOR women in politics who share its values.
In our first year, the Environmental Team began its work with Oregon Wild in presenting writing workshops to teach effective means of communicating with legislators and state officials for the protection of wolves, the Elliot Forest, Jordan Cove and similar environmental issues. They also implemented a program that works alongside SOLVE and records plastic garbage brands, sends that data to corporations such as Coca Cola to encourage them to reduce plastic waste.
In addition, the team has joined in sponsoring several functions such as the Forests & Waters program in Yachats and the Earth Day Celebration earlier this year.
The FOR Education Team’s first project was with the PTA and Band of Brothers to sponsor a drive for the school’s emergency food and supplies program at the 2017 Power of Florence. They also worked with the PTA and other community members to pass the recent option levy and are currently working on the school bond.
They joined with the Human Rights Team to create a fundraiser for local DACA kids to raise the required filing fee for the paperwork that allows them to retain their legal status.
The Human Rights Team also sponsored the “Gift of our Wounds” program at the Presbyterian Church this past August. Former Skinhead, Arno Michaelis, and son of the Sikh leader killed in the temple attack in Wisconsin, Pardeep Kaleka, spent an afternoon with over a hundred Florencians sharing their story of healing through love.
The Human Rights Team is currently connected to the Florence Oregon Housing Coalition to find creative solutions to build workforce housing and encourage the development of Accessory Dwelling Units. Some members are also members of the First Step Transitional program and Florence Warming Center.
The Health Care Team joined the effort to educate the community regarding Measure 101 in January of 2018, which resulted in approximately 60 percent of the community voting “yes.” The Health Care Team has also been instrumental in revitalizing the Florence Chapter of Health Care For All Oregon, which promotes the creation of a public plan for health coverage for all Oregonians, as well as protecting our existing health care services when threatened through legislation or ballot measures.
As other situations have arisen, such as China’s rejection of most recycled plastics, FOR members have joined with other community members to create new entities to address needs. Precious Plastics, Master Recyclers, and FOR members have recently completed our first plastics round-up with great success.
FOR members also collaborated in the creation of the Siuslaw Climate Alliance, which will soon embark on a monthly forum to educate citizens on the local impact of climate change.