CELDF

Initiating a Rights-Based Campaign

The Three G’s of Organizing

Wondering how to get started on the road to local self-government in your community? You’ll need:

  1. A Goal,
  2. A Group,
  3. and Get out of “The Box” by asserting your Right to Local Self-Government

Old community organizing models are like your Uncle Jim at Thanksgiving: tiresome, annoying, and filled with assumptions that will never get you what you want (see “The Box” on pg 4). They usually follow this course:

  • Get educated on the minutiae of whatever issue you’re concerned about: learn about parts-per-million, macro invertebrates, total daily maximum loads, etc.
  • Then, submit your comments to regulatory agencies, attend regulatory hearings, and impress all your friends with your new expert knowledge and vocabulary. Note: The regulatory agencies, and the corporation that intends to engage in the harmful activity, are not impressed with your knowledge.
  • Spend unlimited amounts of money and time in the regulatory system, and at the end of the fight you nearly always end up getting the activity that you were trying to stop…because the regulatory system does not actually provide you with the tools you need to “Just Say No” to harm.

Your Uncle Jim and the regulatory system have a lot in common: Facts don’t matter, and your conversations feel like quicksand on the road to eventual condemnation.

If you’ve decided that conversations with Uncle Jim (or the regulatory system) will ultimately be unproductive, and you’d like to begin pursuing a rights-based path, we’ve compiled some basic principles that other communities have learned for how to get started:

A Goal. Decide what you want. Have conversations with neighbors. Have drinks. Eat snacks. Read books and articles and troll around online. Or don’t. But do what you need to do to help you decide on a specific outcome that you’d like to see for your community.

A Group. Bring people along. There are lots of skills required for a community rights campaign. Most people think that their neighbors are a little slow and would never get involved in your issue. Important: Your neighbors are not as simple as you may think they are! Knock on their doors…post flyers at the library or post office…write a letter-to-the-editor in the local paper. Get the word out about what you’d like to do, and begin bringing those folks together to further refine your goal(s).

Getting out of the Box. Once your group has decided what you’d like to achieve, you need to decide how to get there. If you’d like to work within established channels, head back to the first paragraph and follow the old organizing models. If you’d like to begin stepping outside the Box, and working on a community rights campaign, call a CELDF organizer and we’ll begin working with your community to draft a rights-based ordinance that asserts your community’s rights, and protects your community’s health, safety, and welfare.

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