Community Bill of Rights/Rights of Nature victories in 2017

Is Community Bill of Rights/Rights of Nature push back what we need to counter to corporate oligarchy? We’ve seen the current administration allow killing of slumbering bear cubs, roll back of Migratory Bird Act for oil interests, opening of our publicly owned lands to mining and drilling and the list goes on, every day a new assault on our environment so corporate interests can reap profit at the expense of “We the People”.

Some communities have said enough and they are reclaiming citizen rule. Here are some of the successes from our friends at CELDF. Don’t get depressed, get energized!  

 

Thank You for Your Community Rights Activism

As 2017 comes to an end, we are both grateful and encouraged. Grateful for the grassroots people, groups and organizations with whom we are connected. Encouraged by the actions of many across the nation and the planet working to protect and advance both human rights and nature rights. Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter and being part of the Community Rights Movement.

We believe that local communities have the right to local self-government, free from preemptive laws passed in a Fixed System, where corporate influence has corrupted our local, state and federal governments at the expense of people’s and nature’s rights.

We The People

It’s the people who are doing the nonviolent organizing at the grassroots that make me think there’s still hope. ~Bill Moyers

We educate, organize and support fellow citizens in understanding that it is WE THE PEOPLE who must:

  •     Decide what corporate projects come into our communities.
  •     Create and pass laws that reflect the community we envision.
  •     Understand that without clean air, water and soil there is no community.
  •     Create a system that respects all life and the nature that sustains us.

Thank You CELDF

We extend much appreciation to the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), whose founders recognized the Fixed System 20+ years ago. These determined and dedicated lawyers and organizers continue their work to educate, inspire, and support grassroots groups with democracy workshops, organizing support, legal assistance, and envisioning and leading the Nature Rights and Community Rights movement. CELDF’s assistance and support has been vital in helping communities, counties and states draft Bills of Rights that legally elevate people’s and nature’s rights above corporate privilege and profit. And CELDF continues their support through wins, losses and litigation.

Contact and Support CELDF

Box of Allowable Activism

We understand from experience that our government is not working for us. To better understand this, CELDF explains “The existing structure of law ensures that people cannot govern their own communities and act as stewards of the environment, while protecting corporate “rights” and interests over those of communities and nature”.

We also know from countless hours of effort and attendance at council meetings, legislative meetings, protests and rallies, permit hearings and “calls for comments” that NONE of these provide a legal way to advance people’s rights and nature’s rights over corporate privilege. Unfortunately, there are very few politicians who actually serve those they represent and often patronize corporate influence for campaign funds to “keep their job”.  Even honest and committed public servants operating in the Fixed System are often silenced, bullied or corrupted. And the corporate “masters” often write the legislation that the politicians put forward under the guise of “tougher” regulations.

Liberate Yourself from the Hamster Wheel!

This movement, the Community Rights Movement, upholds and defends inalienable rights as well as rights outlined in Articles from numerous State Constitutions that say, “All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their equal protection and benefit, and they have the right to alter, reform, or abolish the same, whenever they may deem it necessary…” (Example From Ohio Constitution Article 1, Sec. 2)

State News

Colorado

East Boulder County and Boulder County Protectors

THANK YOU!

From all of us at East Boulder County United, warmest appreciation and gratitude to everyone who supported our 2017 efforts to protect Boulder County and neighboring communities from fossil fuel extraction. Thank for your tremendous efforts in this grassroots citizens’ campaign. And thank you to all who joined us, contributed, and supported front-line water protectors here on the Wattenberg shale. You make this work possible.

In 2018, EBCU will continue to lead the fight for community rights and for the preservation of our land and climate. With resolve and hope, we look toward the new year.

East Boulder County and Boulder County Protectors 2017 Highlights

  • Introduced the Lafayette Climate Bill of Rights and Protections in January; passed (in a weakened form in March)
  • Facilitated 9 Direct Action Trainings; we currently have 192 DA grads
  • Hosted 9 community forums across Boulder County to educate citizens about fracking and community rights
  • Hosted 3 events with the Community Environmental Legal Defense                                                                                                      Fund including Democracy School
  • Knocked on hundreds of doors to speak to neighbors about impending fracking
  • Formed an official partnership with Suede Light Brigade
  • Held a benefit concert to raise money for our legal defense fund
  • Presented at an organizing meeting in Erie, which resulted in the formation of the Erie Protectors who now regularly collaborate with EBCU and Boulder County Protectors
  • Launched 3 chapters of Boulder County Protectors in Longmont, Lafayette and Boulder and formed a core team to coordinate events, activities and actions
  • Wrote the Boulder County Climate Bill of Rights and Protections and promoted it to the Boulder County Commissioners; the commissioners have declined to either adopt it or allow it to come up for vote.
  • Formed a comprehensive legal support team including official partnerships with the National Lawyers Guild
  • Created yard signs, t shirts, and buttons to spread the word and raise funds (shop on our website here)
  • Staffed multiple informational tables and passed out flyers at local events.
  • Launched a monthly e-newsletter in October
  • Rebuilt the East Boulder County United website and continue to refine it
  • Helped reelect Merrily Mazza, EBCU founder, to Lafayette City Council

Earth Protectors Art Build, November 

East Boulder County United, Spirit Horse Nation, First Nation Artists Christi Becourt and Isaac Murdoc, November

  • Hosted renowned First Nations artists Christi Belcourt and Isaac Murdoch  for a weekend of art making, community building, story telling and ceremony. Click on the link to watch art build’s phenomenal video

Actions

  • Marched on the 3 Boulder County Commissioners’ homes (1 rental home) to demand a ban on fracking and the adoption of the CBOR
  • Held a die-in protest at a Boulder County Commissioners meeting
  • Dropped a banner on the 3rd Flatiron
  • Supported the Erie Protectors in their action shutting down an Anadarko meeting in Erie
  • Supported a  November light protest during the city of Boulder Open Space Event; supporting Suede Light Brigade in the fight for free speech against the City of Boulder
  • Spoke at council meetings and demanded that elected officials represent the public and not the oil and gas industry

Colorado River v. Colorado

This Fall, Tom Groover interviewed Will Falk who recently helped the Colorado River sue the State of Colorado in a first-in-the-nation lawsuit — Colorado River v. Colorado — requesting that the US District Court in Denver recognize the river’s rights of nature.

Story and Video Interview: Colorado River v. Colorado with Will Falk
Story and Video Interview: Time to Escalate? First-Ever Rights of Nature Lawsuit Dismissed with Will Falk
Contact and Support Colorado Community Rights Network

New Hampshire

NHCRN is gearing up for January when the NH Legislative Session begins. They are hosting a workshop for state legislators to learn more about Community Rights and why we need an amendment to codify our right to local self-government in the NH State Constitution.

There are 3 current local RBO efforts to be presented at town meetings, which take place in March, but one town is pushing for a Special Town Meeting in January to decide on a Sustainable Energy RBO prior to the anticipated issuance of a state permit. In Newmarket, NH, resident town of Representative Ellen Read, the sponsor of the proposed 2018 Community Rights Amendment, a newly formed community rights group called Alliance for Newmarket Citizen & Ecosystem Rights (ANCER) is working on a rights-based ordinance effort to protect the town’s Great Bay Estuary watershed.

Article: COMMUNITY RIGHTS ACTIVISTS CELEBRATE!
PRESS RELEASE: As Part of Growing Community Rights Movement, New Hampshire Legislators Consider State Constitutional Amendment Nov 14, 2017
To the Editor: We the people shall rule December 21, 2017
Contact and Support New Hampshire Community Rights Network

Ohio

Youngstown Ohio Community Rights Activists outside the Mahoning County Board of Elections, September 8, 2017.
In 2017, Ohio communities worked on a half dozen rights-based laws, including 3 county charters, the 1st-in-the-state free and fair elections law (Youngstown), and the 1st-in-the-state right to climate law (Bowling Green). In December 2016, the Ohio legislature passed a law HB 463, which included a provision to allow County Boards of Elections (BOE) to determine whether citizen initiatives can be on the ballot. The Mahoning County BOE did not certify Youngstown citizens’ two initiatives and the Ohio Supreme Court upheld that decision. The Bowling Green initiative was also challenged, but the Ohio Supreme Court upheld their right to citizen initiative and their citizens were able to vote on their amendment. With just a little over two weeks before election, volunteers worked hard as big money poured in to squash the effort and the initiative was defeated.  Local groups in Columbus and Youngstown continue to gather signatures to push forward local community rights initiatives and a Toledo group is collecting signatures for LEBOR, the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, to ensure that Lake Erie remains a viable source of drinking water.

OHCRN Board members and their local groups also collected signatures for two State Constitutional Amendments and submitted the signatures at the end of November. On December 5, 2017, the Ohio State Ballot Board approved both amendments as single-issue amendments. Now Ohioans can begin the process of collecting signatures equal to 10 percent of voters from the last gubernatorial election, over 300,000 valid signatures for each amendment.

In Youngstown and across Ohio we have a slogan, “We don’t lose until we quit.” Onward!

Contact and Support Ohio Community Rights Network

Oregon

 Lincoln County – Successful ballot measure in November made the aerial spraying of pesticides illegal. Of course, the vote was immediately challenged before it could be implemented and we are still awaiting the Judge’s decision.

Lane County – Two current ballot measures:
•    Ban the Aerial Spraying of Pesticides: Signatures submitted in September. Immediate pushback from not just corporations but also from the local government who is insisting on additional revue of the language of the initiative. In short, they keep moving the goalposts.
•    Right to Local Self-Government – still in the signature collecting stage.

Oregon Constitutional Amendment: Right to Local Community Self-Government. This won in the lower court. The state then filed suit to stop it. It is now in active litigation.

Oregon is in the thick of the Community Rights movement. We are deeply grateful for our local community rights based lawyer, Ann Kneeland who time and time again successfully defends our legal cases against entitled corporate attorneys. And, for Kai Huschke, Oregon’s CELDF Community Organizer who keeps us energized and on track to sustain the momentum necessary for the long haul.

Rights of Nature: Coos Bay Estuary Speaks Out Against FERC
Contact and Support Oregon Community Rights Network

Pennsylvania

Grant and Highland Townships continue their fights against injection wells. It is interesting to note that the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) sued both Townships earlier this year.

Stacy Long, on her property in Grant Township, has been fighting to stop her town from being used as a toxic waste dump.Injection-well site in Grant Township. Photos by Mike Belleme for Rolling Stone

PA updates on pages 3 and 10 in the latest CELDF newsletter
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