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Think Out Loud

Marcy Westerling

Pete Springer/OPB

Update: Rural Organizing Project founder Marcy Westerling died June 10, 2015 after a long battle with ovarian cancer. She was a guest on Think Out Loud in 2012.

At 53, Marcy Westerling is taking stock of her life and legacy as a community organizer. She’s also making tokens for her friends to remember her by. Two and a half years ago, Westerling was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. She says,

I can accept dying and dying young. What I’m less OK with is disappearing…I want to be a mentor for younger organizers and allow myself the gift of feeling like I’m going to be carried forward even though I don’t have control over how long I’m here.

Westerling is probably best known for founding the Rural Organizing Project (ROP) in the 1990s. ROP is an advocacy group focused on sexual and racial minority communities in rural Oregon. She’s stepped back from her leadership work at ROP, but she remains very involved as a both a mentor and keeper of the group’s institutional memory.

Do you have experience with the Rural Organizing Project? What would you like to ask Marcy Westerling?

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