History of the Central Oregon Coast NOW Chapter

The first meeting of the Central Oregon Coast NOW Chapter (it was originally called Lincoln County NOW) was April 2, 1987, some 21 years after The National Organization for Women (NOW) was formed. The “Acting Convenor” and first President was Lynn Kauffman. 1987 was a year of planning, recruiting members, and setting the groundwork to have a successful chapter. In 1988 this new chapter managed to adopt bylaws, secure a proclamation of March as “Women’s History Month”, present a film, and hold a candidate’s forum. The chapter met regularly through 1989, and in December, 1989 the first newsletter was published.

1990 was an especially productive year for the chapter. February 14 was the beginning of an eight week consciousness raising. A name was chosen for the newsletter: Equality NOW. In July, NOW members marched in a Lincoln City parade, but were told they could not carry posters. Also in July, the chapter had a booth at the Lincoln County Fair where they distributed condoms. On November 3 the chapter held a Vote No on 8 and 10 rally outside of the Lincoln County Courthouse; if the measures had passed (they did not), Measure 8 would have amended the Oregon Constitution to prohibit abortion except to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or in the case of reported rape or incest; Measure 10 would have required a doctor to give a minor’s parent or custodian notice at least 2 days before performing an abortion.

The chapter was very active throughout the rest of the 1990’s. Among its many activities were co-sponsoring an ad with the group Lincoln County Men Against Domestic Violence; sexual harassment prevention work with the school district; monitoring and challenging a new “pro-life” group in the county; sending packets to women in Yugoslavia; community forums on women’s health, ballot initiatives, domestic violence, and sexual harassment in the schools; the Clothesline Project protesting domestic violence; the Candlelight March Against Domestic Violence; garage sales; the Walk for the Cure; booths at the county fair that distributed condoms (although fair board members objected);  NOW art study group; donations to local community groups; and participation in the successful fight to prevent local hospitals from being purchased by the Catholic Church (Sisters of Providence). Also during the 1990’s the chapter held consciousness raising sessions on such topics as pornography and the politics of breast cancer. It was in 1999 that the name was changed from Lincoln County NOW to Central Oregon Coast NOW.

From 2000 to 2002 the chapter continued to be active, but it became a struggle to keep the membership growing, and many of the early members either moved or became less involved. However, the chapter did successfully facilite the reinstatement of a sexual harassment policy in the school district. It also continued its participation in community events, and held several garage sales. After 2002, chapter members participated in state activities, particularly the PAC which interviewed candidates for local and state offices to identify those who should be recommended for election. The newsletter continued on an irregular basis.

After 2002, chapter members participated in state activities, particularly the PAC which interviewed candidates for local and state offices to identify those who should be recommended for election. The last newsletter was published in 2011.

The chapter has recently been reinstated to active status in 2012 with 3 convenors: Nancy Campbell Mead, Michele Walters, and Sheri Ambrose. Some of the former members are reactivating their memberships, and new members are being recruited.

Much thanks to Nel Ward, formerly very active member and the newsletter editor, for providing the information on the history of the Central Oregon Coast NOW Chapter.