Sunday, January 20th
1:30 – 4:30pm
Columbia River Maritime Museum (Kern Room)
1792 Marine Drive, Astoria, OR 97103
This Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, Oregon Humanities and the Rural Organizing Project bring you a unique opportunity to take a trip back in social movement time. In this interactive workshop, we’ll explore the history of the activists and visionaries who were fighting for social and economic justice on Oregon’s own North Coast, in the first half of the 20th century.
Beginning in the early 1900s, Svenson and Astoria’s vibrant community of radical Finns printed a popular socialist newspaper, founded successful cooperatives, and used theater and music to advance their socialist ideals. And in the late 1930s, Clatsop County progressives joined unions, socialists, and farmer organizations from across Oregon to push forward a broad progressive agenda through the Oregon Commonwealth Federation.
“From Finnish Radicals to Farmer-Labor Alliances” is a participatory workshop that invites participants to explore those moments when passionate, principled or simply fed-up people from rural Oregon (and the North Coast, in particular) have banded together in hopes of changing the course of history at local, state, and national levels.
Liisa Penner (Clatsop County Historical Society Archivist) and Leroy Adolphson (grandson of human rights activist and communist party-member Emelia Bohm) will join oral historian Sandy Polishuk (author of Sticking To The Union: An Oral History of The Life and Times of Julia Ruuttila) to share stories and background about the region’s radical Finns. University of Oregon History Professor Daniel Pope will provide an overview to rural and social movements, and touch on the Oregon Commonwealth Federation, a New Deal-era farmer-labor coalition that included leadership from Clatsop County progressives and fought against the privatization of natural resources, utilities, war industries and banks, and advocated for civil rights, pensions for the unemployed, and free medical care for children and the poor.
Breakout sessions will offer participants the opportunity to dig deeper into this history by exploring historical archives of social movement activity on the North Coast and analyzing what they reveal about the values, demands and strategies of these movements. A facilitated discussion with Barbara Dudley (Adjunct Professor in the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University) will explore the connections between grassroots movements past and present.
Light refreshments will be provided. A sliding scale donation of $3 to $10 is suggested; no one will be turned away for lack of funds. RSVPs are requested but not required to: sarah[at]rop.org or on facebook.