Ohio community members have worked hard over the past eight years with CELDF, proposing charter amendments and ordinances recognizing local self-governance and rights of nature community bills of rights to protect both residents and ecosystems from harmful corporate projects where they live. These harmful projects ranged from oil/gas fracking, injection wells, industrial agriculture, water privatization and corporate control of local elections. What the people discovered over all those years is that the system is set up to stop the people from taking meaningful action to stop the harms. Some of these communities, like Williams and Medina counties are labeled conservative “red” and others, like Youngstown, Columbus, Athens, Kent and Toledo are seen as progressive “blue.” In the end it didn’t matter. The system in all of these places attempted to stifle the people’s voice.
But the people learned to collaborate on what they share in common. They got together in 2013 to form a network, the Ohio Community Rights Network (OHCRN). In 2019 they jointly filed a civil rights lawsuit against the state. They have become more than allies, they have become friends, united around the shared values for Community Rights and Rights of Nature. They have differences of opinion but work through them to focus on shared goals, a lesson they hope to share with others. Soon they will be releasing a book entitled, Death by Democracy, Protecting Water and Life: Frontline Stories from Ohioans Fighting Corporate and State Power. In the book they tell their own stories. The book conveys the hard work and perseverance involved in systemic change. Look for announcements and updates on how to order your copy.
Democracy Film Festival
The OHCRN and Simply Living finished up their 4-part Democracy Film Festival on Oct. 24. The series included the films, “What is Democracy?,” “Invisible Hand,” “The New Corporation” and “The People vs Agent Orange.” Post screening discussions were recorded and are available to watch. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Toxic Brine Campaign
Members of OHCRN and other residents of Ohio discovered through CELDF lawyer Terry Lodge that Ohio currently has a law on the books protecting water supplies from radioactive poisoning. This law ORC 2927.24 (B)(1) makes it a criminal offense to knowingly place radioactive substances into water sources. For years, the state has allowed the spreading of radioactive oil/gas brine to be spread on roads both in the winter as a deicer and in the summer as a dust suppressant, with knowledge that it gets into water tables and goes down drains leading directly to rivers and streams. In 2017, the state regulatory agency conducted their own tests on one of these products. They found high levels of Radium 226 and 228 and yet still allowed it to be spread. Many of the same residents who saw their proposed rights of nature laws struck down by the system now want to hold the hypocritical state accountable by enforcing its own law. They are making serious gains, getting particular companies banned, and are keeping the pressure on local and state officials to ban the practice entirely.
Citizens for Rights of the Ohio River Watershed (C.R.O.W.)
A group of concerned residents in the Cincinnati area have been learning about Rights of Nature and attempting to spread the word to others in the community, with the assistance of CELDF organizer Tish O’Dell and CELDF attorneys. They held a 3-part conversation series over the summer, had a booth at a local waterfront festival and continue to hold regular bi-weekly Saturday meetings. Their goal is to connect area residents to the Ohio River and to recognize that without a healthy river and river ecosystem, the people cannot possibly be healthy either. The river’s rights to thrive, regenerate and be healthy is interconnected to all life in the watershed. They want to learn from the Lake Erie Bill of Rights and hope to take Rights of Nature to the next level. According to the EPA, the Ohio River is one of the most polluted rivers in the U.S. for over a decade. Contact: email@example.com.