ON SATURDAY, MAY 7TH, over 150 rural and small town Oregonians from 25 counties convened in Bend, Oregon to issue Rep. Greg Walden a “Notice of Foreclosure.”
Rep. Walden voted in favor of the “Ryan” budget in the House of Representatives, which allocates over $700 billion to the military while cutting billions in community service needs across the state. A protest organized by the Rural Organizing Project convened to declare that Rep. Walden’s support of the “Ryan” budget is a violation of his duty to serve the public good, and that he is therefore in default. Modeled after the foreclosure notices that plague homeowners in crisis, the “Notice of Foreclosure” issued by the people claims:
- Repossession of the political trust that the people have vested in Rep. Walden.
- A deficiency judgment.
- Such other equitable relief as the people may deem necessary.
Attendees rallied in Bend’s downtown shopping district, at a park located in front of the Bend La Pine School District Building and the Public Library. Cara Shufelt, of the Rural Organizing Project, declared “These are the kinds of services our communities need: good schools, libraries, vibrant local businesses. When Rep. Walden supports over $700 billion for the military while cutting billions to our communities, he is no longer representing the common welfare of our communities. We are here to repossess the public trust vested in him.”
Community members shared testimony on the impact of these misguided priorities. Nancie Koerber of Central Point talked about losing her small business and her home going into foreclosure. When she visited Washington DC and tried to meet with Rep. Walden, his office told her that “foreclosures were not a problem they were hearing about in his district.” Deschutes County alone faced over 3700 foreclosures in 2010.
Betsy Lamb of Bend shared the story of a local immigrant family who faced deportation. On average 2.5 people are deported from Deschutes County each week. Kathy Paterno of Powell Butte shared the story of trying to discuss the war budget with Congressman Walden several years ago and continually being ignored by his office. Paterno was one of seven people who decided to stage a “sit in” at Walden’s office as a last resort to get his attention. They were eventually arrested and hauled off to the Deschutes County Jail.
Ralliers then marched through downtown Bend to Rep. Walden’s office chanting “Foreclose on Walden.” Koerber, whose home is currently in the foreclosure process, posted the Notice of Foreclosure on the door of Rep. Walden’s office while the full notice was read aloud.
To ensure Rep. Walden will hear this message, the grassroots protest action will sent “Notice of Foreclosure” from all over the state during the month of May, with the concept that Walden will experience what homeowners in foreclosure face over and over in the foreclosure process: humiliating notice after notice and call after call.
Astoria resident and committee member of the Clatsop County Marriage Equality Project, Kjerstin Gould attended the protest, “The diverse groups that met in Bend have in common a primary goal – to speak out against unfair treatment, to speak up and educate our friends and neighbors, and to do our part to promote human dignity. I was moved by personal stories, and inspired by the great achievements made by “regular folks” like us who carve time out of their busy lives to help make the world a more fair, humane place.”
The concept of the “People Foreclosing” on those elected representatives who violate the public trust is already gaining traction, according to Schufelt.
“People in the states of Washington and New York are already making plans to “Foreclose” on their Representatives who have made poor choices that harm the common welfare of our communities.”
For more info on the follow-up to “Foreclosure on Walden,” and to be a part of the next steps – from sending in a local Letter to the Editor to distributing “Foreclose on Walden” stickers to mailing a Notice of Foreclosure to Walden’s office – contact Cara at the Rural Organizing Project: firstname.lastname@example.org, 503-543-8417.
• The Rural Organizing Project is a statewide organization of locally-based groups that work to create communities accountable to a standard of human dignity: the belief in the equal worth of all people, the need for equal access to justice, and the right to self-determination.
Today, ROP works with 65 member groups to organize on issues that impact human dignity and to advance inclusive democracy.