Community organizing

What is community organizing? We think Kevin Williams, Director of Organizing for our network partner from the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC), said it best:

“Community organizing is people with shared values and common self-interests working together at the grassroots to build and exercise their power to make change.”


  • Listen to their members, who know the community, and let people go at their own pace while also helping them develop the self-confidence to try new things.
  • Work with, not for, their members. They do their fair share of work while also striving never to do for others what they can do for themselves.
  • Identify and develop a diverse group of members who agree to serve as the organization’s public voice on a variety of issues. Organizers are attuned to the power relationships and political agendas surrounding an issue, and analyze the social, political and economic forces that shape our communities, states, nation and world.
  • Recruit and develop leaders, seek to discover the skills, talents and interests of current and potential leaders, and encourage shared leadership. They believe that everyone has the potential to lead if given the opportunity.
  • Build public relationships based on the general needs of civic and community life, primarily through one-on-ones. The purposes of these one-on-ones are to build relationships and trust, discover interests, identify skills and talents, and move people to involvement.
  • Work within their communities to define problems and issues, and help people to think through the strategies and tactics necessary to act with confidence and win.
  • Enable the members to hold meetings that are productive and focused. Organizers facilitate training and strategy sessions when needed to help their members and leaders learn the skills they need to speak for the group, make good decisions and take the out-front roles. Organizers don’t run meetings where members are making decisions.

previous work

Oregon Rural Action was founded in 2001, and since then, we've been working to promote social justice, agricultural and economic sustainability, and stewardship of the region's land, air and water. We're bringing people together to build strong communities by providing information and tools for local people to use in addressing the issues affecting our communities.

local chapters

  • Blue Mountain Chapter

    The Blue Mountain Chapter (BMC) of ORA was formed in 2001 and is centered in La Grande, drawing community members from throughout Union County. Energy and agriculture have been long-standing focuses of the chapter. Members are currently focused on Homegrown Prosperity and Healthcare Reform. They are also exploring interest in forming an Investment Group to reinvigorate the local economy.

  • Snake River Chapter

The Snake River Chapter (SRC), based in Ontario, was formed in 2003 by members in Malheur County and folks throughout the western Treasure Valley. The SRC has focused on social justice and local food issues. It continues to coordinate the Four Rivers Community Garden and is exploring new issues and projects including creating a “solarize” program like Solarize Union County, developing a Farm to School program and becoming active in Oregon’s Healthcare Reform movement.