Rural Oregon has been experiencing rapid changes. As of the 2010 Census, Latinos make up 12% of Oregon’s population and nearly 20% of Oregon’s youth. From 2000 to 2008 the local Latino population grew over 50% in nine rural Oregon counties and five now have populations of more than 20%. These changes in a time of such economic insecurity and vulnerability can cause insecurities, tensions and discomfort, making our small town communities vulnerable to fear-mongering and scapegoating.
Human dignity groups are well-situated to serve as leaders and guides as our communities experience these shifts. HDGs are already stepping up and initiating the conversation about how to represent our rural values by building a welcoming community. We are in a position to offer leadership and vision toward a grassroots culture change for inclusivity, dignity and the possibility of prosperity through embracing our changing communities.
Welcoming Campaigns have been building strategic cross-cultural alliances to promote a “welcoming” and inclusive environment for immigrants and our towns as a whole. We can demonstrate how local leadership embraces Oregon’s changing demographics. While Welcoming efforts are oriented towards long-term culture shift in our communities, they also remain vigilant to more immediate projects that can lessen the daily pressures of racism that leads to exclusion, invisibility and lack of opportunity that are systematically impacting the most vulnerable in our communities. Take Action.