Author: Coos History Membership

We All Belong Here – Embracing Diversity

The following post was taken from an email sent from the Rural Organizing Project team after they hosted a community event at the museum.

On September 21st, over 80 community members from the Coos Bay area crowded into the Coos History Museum! The event opened with Liv, President of the North Bend High School Gay Straight Alliance, and Kari sharing personal stories about the ways that homophobia and transphobia had threatened their safety and ability to thrive in Coos County, and offering direction about how the community can show up for those under attack.

Israel Jurich, Pastor of North Bend’s Faith Lutheran Church, facilitated the panel with Kari and Liv. In hearing their stories, he reflected on the impact that harassment and bias crimes have on the community at large. Violence and discrimination marginalize people who have so much to offer to our small towns, making it difficult for them to stay and thrive. “We risk losing incredible people of great value to our community; people who are amazing community leaders, colleagues, friends, and employees… our best students and our best crab and shrimp pickers!”

The second half of the forum focused on a community discussion. The audience broke into small groups to share stories of harassment and discrimination that they had experienced or witnessed, and brainstorm ways that they could intervene as a community. Some of the ideas that the forum generated included:

  • Putting out a community-wide resource guide that would be available online and in binders at public libraries
  • Creating a monthly suggested read & watch list on area social media pages and forming a book club focused on building a more welcoming community
  • Holding trainings on security, deescalation and bystander intervention
  • Forming a rapid response team that could quickly engage and support when people are targeted by hate crimes and discrimination
  • Youth-led demonstrations at local schools to draw attention to the lack of support from law enforcement and school administrators for LGBTQIA+ students and students of color

The forum also engaged people in a local welcoming poster campaign — “We all belong here” — which was created to encourage local businesses and organizations to be overt and proactive in building a welcoming community by placing posters in their store windows as ambassadors to this crucial conversation.

The community forum closed with a commitment to continue organizing, because, as attendees stated at the event, who else do we have but each other? When the police don’t respond, or make things less safe for our most impacted neighbors, we have to turn to each other to build the kind of community that we all want to live in; one where everyone can thrive and be who they are without fearing for their lives at work, at school, and in their own homes and neighborhood. One where difference is seen as strength, and people are valued for bringing their whole selves to their work and community.

Since the forum, local organizers have formed the We All Belong Here Coalition, a human dignity group committed to responding when their neighbors are threatened by violence and discrimination.The forum sparked media coverage and pressured local law enforcement to sit down with community leaders and hear the ways that their departments are failing people. As leaders in Coos Bay demonstrate, our safety and resilience lies in our commitment to each other, to bringing these stories out into the open and then, together, building strategies to respond!

Grace, Hannah, Cara, Keyla, Jess and the ROP team

New Survey Markers

In late September, volunteers Steve Greif and Larry Seguine installed 40 new bronze survey markers onto the grounds in front of the Coos History Museum in-between the north bioswales. These survey markers are from museum donors who contributed for the special project with a $500+ gift since the spring of 2015. The new markers are located near the original 245 markers that were set in place just prior to the museum’s opening. Thank you to local contractors Scott Partney and Kim Edd who provided expertise and equipment at no cost to move the project along and to Berntsen International, Inc. of Madison, Wisconsin which did an excellent job of manufacturing and delivering the markers. Volunteers at the front desk of the museum can guide any donor to the location of their markers. Next time you visit the museum, stop to view the names of all the wonderful donors who helped the museum’s capital campaign become a reality.

Epic Origami

It is always fun to see the outcome of 2nd Sundays.  This last week we had a school of fish made by our community members.  They are proudly on display by the county map.  Did you know that our Family Fun Days are free to everyone, not just families?  They are generously sponsored by the Coquille Animal Hospital and an anonymous donor.  Come and have fun with us!

 

1st Annual Museum Fundraiser – The Drunken Botanist

With over 200 guests in attendance, our first annual fundraiser turned out to be a success! Amy Stewart, author of the NY Times best selling book, The Drunken Botanist, gave a captive presentation that had the crowd laughing. Guests were able to sample cocktails from the book and had a dinner catered by Benetti’s and WildFlour Catering.  The auction portion of the evening helped to raise money for the museum.

Shots From the Bay

The Coos History Museum happens to be located in a spot that is perfect for watching vessels float by.  Those who have rented rooms from us get to see movement on the Bay while they are in their meetings.  Here are some examples of what has gone by in the past week.  Steve Greif was generous enough to share these photos with us.

Paper Puppet Theater Camp – Session One

The first session of Paper Puppet Theater Camp was a success, thanks to the creative minds and artistic talents of the kids involved and our education coordinator, Amy Pollicino.

The kids learned how to write a play and how to perform using the puppets that they made over the course of the week. The end result was “The Dog Who Saved Front Street.”

Session Two is scheduled for August 14-18, so there is still time to sign up!