Sunday, May 19, 2013 nearly thirty residents from communities all around the state met to sign the Barnstead Declaration and to initiate a statewide call for legislative and constitutional changes that recognize the right to local self-government and the Rights of Nature.
The filing of incorporation papers with the state of New Hampshire and the seating of the New Hampshire Community Rights Network (NHCRN) Board of Directors marked the official beginning of an educational effort to drive changes to law that reflect guaranteed protections for the right to local self-government and the rights of nature. There are currently seven municipalities in New Hampshire with community rights-based laws on the books, all of which were petitioned to annual town meetings and acted on by residents concerned about projects they saw as threatening to the health, safety and wellbeing of their neighborhoods. These local laws elevate the rights of people and nature above the claimed rights of corporations.
The May 19th meeting reflected on the historic work done by Barnstead residents in 2006, when they voted to ban corporate water extraction within the Town by enacting the Barnstead Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance.
NHCRN members who gathered at the Barnstead Town Hall voiced concerns about the lack of local control over diverse issues such as energy – large scale hydroelectric project the Northern Pass, industrial wind, and smart meters; corporate water extraction; clean elections; unsustainable development; the patenting of life forms by corporations through GMO engineering; and other state-permitted projects. Each community will be represented on the NHCRN Board by a democratically – elected member, who will participate directly with other board members and volunteers to further educate New Hampshire people on the right to local self-government.