For decades, residents, farmers, and community advocates of Western Oregon have faced corporate led and state sponsored attacks on local self-government, including their right to decide what agriculture and forestry look like in their communities.
In addition to the state’s restrictive “Right to Farm” and “Right to Forest” Acts, which divest communities of their right to stop the harmful practices of these industries, the state legislature enacted SB 863 in the fall of 2013, preempting communities from decision-making authority about agricultural seed. Dubbed by many as the Monsanto Protection Act, the state legally protects corporations peddling GMO seed and pesticides from community interference – including community efforts to stop them.
In the face of these and other usurpations, such as worker rights and social justice issues, the people of Oregon have begun to organize for fundamental change through the growing community rights model.
Today, rights-based initiatives to establish the rights of communities to protect their food systems and forests, shift towards sustainable energy futures, and address other social and economic issues, are underway in Benton, Columbia, Coos, Douglas, Lane, and Lincoln Counties. A similar effort is emerging in Jackson County as well.
In September 2013, with growing numbers of communities advancing community rights, the people of Oregon came together to launch the Oregon Community Rights Network (ORCRN). Delegates from eight Oregon counties released the Corvallis Declaration of Community Rights, calling upon communities across the state to join the community rights movement to support existing rights-based organizing efforts and to build support to drive change to the state level, elevating the rights of communities and nature above corporate claimed “rights” and state efforts to preempt community decision making.
In the spring of 2015, ORCRN launched a statewide campaign to amend the Oregon Constitution, which – if adopted – will secure the right of local community self-government. Supporters are aiming to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.
For more information on the Oregon Community Rights Network, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.