The preeminent film to date on community rights and rights of nature, “Invisible Hand”, was screened in Washington on July 16th. The film and discussion was hosted by Snohomish County Community Rights.
The award-winning documentary narrated by actor Mark Ruffalo describes the real life realities of Grant Township and its ongoing battle to keep its community from being polluted along with the growing global movement, including the work of CELDF, to move legal systems from seeing nature as a thing, to ecosystems having enforceable rights. The film continues to be an excellent resource for recruiting and building community rights efforts across the country.
Rebirth of the WACRN
Launched in 2015 by way of the Spokane Declaration, the Washington Community Rights Network (WACRN) has been idle for a number of years due to the courts attack on local direct democracy. However, community rights energy from Spokane, Seattle, Bellingham and Tacoma of years past has been tapped into more recently by community rights and rights of nature advocates from other communities including Sequim, San Juan County, Kitsap County, Olympia, Snohomish County, Newport, and elsewhere. Since early 2021 the WACRN has been working on establishing itself including looking towards how it can be the most effective in recruiting and activating more people to dig into the needed systemic change as marshaled by community rights.
How it is according to Democracy School
One positive outcome of the shutdown caused by the pandemic has been the expansion of CELDF’s Democracy School offerings around the country. CELDF made a very quick pivot towards offering the school online, presenting nearly 10 schools in the last 10 months. Washington is hosting its second school in October. Snohomish County Community Rights is the local sponsor and is looking to fill the school with area activists but will also have space for those wanting to attend from elsewhere. Full details including online registration can be found here: https://secure.everyaction.com/kSJLD4ox80-0onrr7TiVrw2
Injustice in Lincoln County
In very short order the Oregon Court of Appeals punted on speaking up on behalf of people and ecosystems in Lincoln County by reaffirming the lower court’s reversal of a voter-enacted law that banned aerial pesticide spray and secured rights of nature. The one-page statement issued at the end of June merely said “affirmed without opinion.” In doing so, the courts denied the Siletz River watershed its right to defend itself, as well as endangered the public by siding with the state and corporate practitioners in the ongoing assault of Lincoln County by way of hazardous chemicals. After discussions between CELDF and Lincoln County Community Rights the group has decided to petition the Oregon Supreme Court. The group is actively looking for “friends of the court” to join them in questioning the power of corporate defined, state ceiling preemption.
Building Unity and Action Across the State
A fall virtual presentation series, multi-partner state summit and taking on state ceiling preemption are just some of the activities being spearheaded by CELDF’s sister organization the Oregon Community Rights Network. Coming off a successful fall 2020 and spring 2021 virtual series of presentations and discussions on topics like mutual aid, real democracy and Indigenous rights, the ORCRN is busy setting up a series of similar events on other important topics to take place in the fall. Check with
orcrn.org in the coming weeks for more details.
As that work is underway so too is the formulation of a fall 2021 or spring 2022 state summit intended to bring various issue groups within Oregon together to discuss how to better support one another and come together in action in a more unified way. The ORCRN is in the process of partnering with other groups to plan and host the event.
Though the state constitutional amendment on the right of local self-government was not introduced in the 2021 Oregon legislative session, the ORCRN, with CELDF’s help, is working on new legislation aimed at securing greater local democracy from state inference. The legislation, if adopted, would provide a major boost to communities looking to advance civil, economic and environmental rights without the state being able to block such actions (almost always on behalf of corporate interests). The goal is to craft the language over the summer and have it ready for introduction to legislators in early fall. The 2022 legislative session begins
at the end of January.
Check with orcrn.org in the coming weeks for more details.