The team at Basic Rights Oregon is still buzzing from all the love, wisdom, and community-building shared at our annual Statewide Action Summit (SAS) on March 12 in Eugene! This event was made possible by our generous sponsors: Northwest Natural, University of Oregon, and Oregon Health & Science University. 

The day started with a rousing speech from BRO Executive Director Nancy Haque about why our work remains essential, even as Oregon is one of the most pro-LGBTQ2SIA+ states in the nation. As Nancy pointed out, those policies “didn’t happen by accident”—they were fought for and won, and must be continually protected and furthered.

“What is true today is not guaranteed,” Nancy said. “If students aren’t safe in Newberg, students aren’t safe in Oregon.”

Our attendees then broke out into three different morning workshops: Supporting Prisoners During the Pandemic, Hot Meals & Gender Feels: Reflections on Trans Food Security Projects in Portland, and Ignore the Binary: Embrace Intersectionality for Organizational Growth. 

In Supporting Prisoners During the Pandemic, we learned about why incarceration disproportionately impacts LGBTQ2SIA+ people, and how folks can get connected with an LGBTQ+ and/or HIV-positive prison pen-pal through Black and Pink PDX.  In Hot Meals and Gender Feels, we learned why transgender adults were three times more likely to experience food insecurity than cisgender adults—and what’s being done about it in Portland. Finally, Ignore the Binary focused on how embracing intersectionality can be key to an organization’s success.

After our first breakout session, we enjoyed a boxed lunch (shout-out University of Oregon catering!), then heard from keynote speaker Erin Waters in a barn-burner speech on the SAS theme of “Reconnect. Recharge. Redefine our work!” Erin spoke to why it’s essential we acknowledge our vastly different experiences as queer people, and center all oppressed identities in our fight for lived equality in Oregon.

“If I can be queer, that’s really cool, but where am I okay to be Black?” Erin asked. “As I reconnect with the world around me, how am I supposed to reconnect with people who only support part of me?… Which parts of myself do I expect to wait in line?”

Our day ended with a second breakout session, with three more intriguing workshops: We Keep Us Resourced: Building Solidarity and Networks of Care with Unhoused Trans and Queer People, Empowering Indigenous Pedagogies and Protocols: How to Center Native Stewardship within Community Care, and Oppositional Campaigns. 

In Oppositional Campaigns, presenter Madeleine Oiseau introduced folks to the “Goals, Strategies, Tactics” paradigm of organizing an oppositional campaign, as well as how power mapping can help identify potential effective allies. We learned that finding adequate housing is particularly hard for trans people and people of color in rural Oregon in We Keep Us Resourced. Finally, presenter Leece Oliver spoke about how we can uplift efforts by Pacific Northwestern Indigenous Natives to save local salmon populations in Empowering Indigenous Pedagogies and Protocols. 

We’d like to thank everyone who attended and presented at this year’s Basic Rights Oregon Statewide Action Summit! After a few years away, it was wonderful to see all your masked faces in-person. If you weren’t able to attend the event, keep an eye out for workshops and speech recordings, which will be up on our YouTube page soon. 

We look forward to another SASsy summit next year! Until then, relive the day with some photos below.