Whether it’s Wisconsin’s union members and students taking over their Capitol Building to protect the right to organize, Tea Party activists flooding congressional phone lines over the national debt, or youth and the unemployed occupying Wall Street to speak out against deepening economic inequality, the past few years have seen an upsurge in popular protest.  Ordinary people across the country are exercising their rights to free speech and popular assembly in the hopes of shaping the course of our nation’s history.  Rural Oregonians are no exception. 

For instance, Oregon has more “Occupy” sites in rural and small towns than any other state in the nation.  Indeed, at critical moments in Oregon’s history, rural communities have been sites of unconventional and noteworthy social movement activity.  Drawing on the disciplines of history, sociology and political science, Rural Oregon’s History from Below will make the connections between past and present, inviting rural Oregonians from all walks of life and political persuasion to use the humanities to understand how an engaged and active citizenry in our own communities has, at different points in the past, shaped the course of history.

History from Below is a “traveling history workshop” held in rural communities and small towns across the state of Oregon.  With a combination of panel presentations, small group work, and facilitated discussion, the 2-3 hour History from Below workshop invites participants to explore moments when passionate, principled or simply fed-up people from their area have banded together in hopes of changing the course of history at the local, state, (or in some cases) national level.

Program Objectives:

  • Expose participants to the critical-historical method and whet their appetite for digging deeper into their community’s own history
  • Highlight the role that “ordinary” rural Oregonians can and have played historically in evolving the ideas, policies and decisions that inform and shape residents’ daily lives
  • Engage rural and small town community members of diverse political perspectives in a civil and meaningful conversation about issues of concern to contemporary social movements

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