“I want to make a difference.”
Sylvia Marr is 24 years old and a proud Grants Pass native. Sylvia is active in our community life and its politics. She told me in a recent interview that when her mom joined the Democratic party 24 plus years ago, you could count all the Democrats in Josephine County on both hands, “I think there were 10 of them, counting my mother,” she said with a laugh.
Although still a minority, the Democratic Party has seen impressive growth and participation over the last several years in one of the most anti-government counties in the country.
Sylvia graduated from Willamette University in Salem, with a degree in politics and communication and is planning on continuing toward a law degree, “hopefully at Lewis and Clark, in Portland.” Her goal is to eventually hold elected office, “I want to make a difference. I want to be a voice for the underserved and the underrepresented.”
As part of that compassion for the underserved and underrepresented, Sylvia has been working with many of the homeless at the cooling and warming shelters. “Once you start talking to them (the homeless), you find out, they’re just our neighbors.” People displaced due to physical and mental illness, addiction, poverty, divorce, and other bad circumstances, “but still our neighbors.” When you ask about their experiences, most, Sylvia explains, “are heartbreaking.”
Sylvia is also active in the Oregon Remembrance Project. The Oregon Remembrance Project is working to educate the public about Oregon’s racist history; and through that developed truth generate change and reconciliation. Sylvia indicates there is a particular focus on our little Grants Pass, a community known for years as a “sundown town;” where blacks were advised to be out of town by sunset or face a bad outcome. Some extrapolate that history of exclusion to homelessness where armed vigilantes threaten the homeless after dark in Grants Pass city parks.
Sylvia’s primary message is, “get involved.” The struggle may seem overwhelming, but don’t let that stop you from doing whatever small part you can. A journey of many miles starts with a single step and the more people joining in that journey the lighter the burden.
Sylvia’s current “must-read” book is, ‘The Fight to Save the Town,’ by Michelle Wilde Anderson. The book focuses on four areas of the United States that have been affected by poverty and broken government, one being Josephine County, Oregon. Available locally, as they say.
Sylvia Marr is what the “youth vote” looks like; passionate, compassionate, inclusive, and uncompromising. I’d say that’s all good. The recent Stonewall Caucus brought out a lot of young people. Whether it’s same sex marriage, LGBT rights, abortion rights, or civil liberties, Oregon’s youth is ready for the fight. With youth comes energy and ingenuity. We Josephine County Democrats are lucky to have Sylvia Marr and other young people on our team.