A People’s Movement
In spite of the legendary belief that the United States Constitution established a government of, by and for the people, it is the people themselves who have long been struggling to straighten the crooked bough of American law. In 1789 state conventions run by wealthy white colonists ratified a constitution that legalized chattel and debt slavery, denied the vote to everyone but propertied white men. The Bill of Rights offered no constitutional protections to the disenfranchised people excluded by the new constitution; in fact those first ten amendments promised only to guard the rights of white men with property from government interference.
That the property status of African Americans has been ended, that women can vote, that queer folx can now marry, and that land ownership is not a requirement for the franchise are all due to people’s movements and have been won in spite of the original intent of the constitutional framers.
We can understand the nature of people’s movements by reviewing their goals: in each case it was the securing and protecting of fundamental rights for those whose rights have been denied and violated under color of law. Unless a systemic change in law and governance is being pursued, there is no people’s movement. Hence we can say unequivocally that there has never been a true “environmental movement” in the U.S. until recently, since there has not been an attempt to do more than regulate the rate of nature’s destruction. Only now are small enclaves of people organizing to recognize constitutionally protected rights for Nature.
People’s Movements Contain:
- The collective effort of many people
- The end of begging for reform and the uncompromising exertion of community power
- The unerring goal of securing and enforcing fundamental rights
- The removal of systemic violations of those rights
CELDF has a strategy to compliment the people’s movements of today
Step 1: Help communities stop threats, building a movement at the grassroots level. We’ve already helped nearly 200 communities advance legislation to protect their rights, hosted hundreds of Democracy Schools and are constantly working on education, organizing and providing legal services at the local level. We work diligently with communities every day.
Step 2: Bring communities together in coalitions to drive change at the state level. We’ve already helped build several independent state-level coalitions in Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Washington, New Hampshire, Oregon, Ohio and Colorado.
Step 3: Bring states together to drive change at the federal level. New demands for a next amendment to the U.S. Constitution are in the works and emerging as movements hone their demands.
Step 4: Build international solidarity. Fighting for and advancing local self-determination over corporate domination, and the Right’s of Nature, are inherently projects of solidarity. And the movement is spreading across the word. We’ve helped groups in Ecuador recognize the Rights of Nature in its constitution, have collaborated with groups in other countries, including India, Nepal, Australia, and the European Union, and continue to offer and solicit solidarity.
Join the Movement Now!
There are many opportunities to get involved at CELDF, from hosting a Democracy School, to volunteering in a community, to helping organize a campaign. Check out the options and join the movement below!
Sign Up to Organize In Your Community
The key to establishing and asserting the Right to Local Self-Government is YOU!
Whether you live in a community where CELDF is currently organizing…or not, protecting your community from legally sanctioned corporate assault or oppression means getting involved with challenging and changing the structure of government and decision-making. It requires that, together, we build a people’s movement of historic proportions…like the abolitionists, the early labor movement, and the agrarian populists, to win not only a few site-fights, but to change the way decisions affecting our communities, environments and quality of life get made. It’s time to raise the banner and ask Who Decides? Until the answer is an unequivocal: the people who are affected! – we have work to do.