National Community Rights Network
The National Community Rights Network (NCRN) launched in 2014, growing out of CELDF’s grassroots organizing, which has assisted communities to advance Community Rights at the local level for 20 years. Nearly 200 communities across the U.S. have adopted CELDF-drafted Community Bills of Rights, protecting community rights to clean air and water, sustainable food, energy, and other systems, and the right to local self-governance.
The NCRN is composed of representatives from state Community Rights Networks, and is committed to providing education, outreach, and support for the development of additional statewide Community Rights Networks. The organization is partnering with state and local Community Rights advocates to build a grassroots, people-driven, Community Rights Movement that will democratize and humanize decision-making at all levels.
The NCRN mission is to assist state Community Rights Networks to educate people across the country on local, community self-governance and community rights; secure the inalienable rights of all people, communities, and ecosystems through local self-governance; assert community rights to empower and liberate communities from state preemption and corporate harm; and advance those efforts toward state and federal constitutional change.
State Community Rights Networks
Colorado Community Rights Network
For years, Coloradans have faced harmful corporate practices, including gas and oil drilling and fracking, gold mining, the use of GM seed, water mining and the privatization of public services for private profit. The theft of local resources and the violation of community rights by corporations are rampant.
Worse, the state, rather than helping Colorado communities to stop these harms, instead advocates for them and preempts local governments from legislating to protect the rights of community members. In fact, it is even joining corporate lawsuits against those communities who dare to defy corporate interests and corral their government bestowed privileges. The state legislature, backed up by the courts, has forbidden communities from making local policies regarding fair wages, absentee landlordism, regulation of weapons, workers’ rights, health care, and a host of issues impacting social justice. Today, we see an all-out coordinated assault by corporations and the state against the authority of the people to use their local governments to protect their rights and decide what happens in the places where they live.
No longer willing to submit to state and corporate pressure, Colorado communities have joined the growing community rights movement to assert their inalienable right of local, community self-governance, the right to sustainable energy and food systems, and the rights of nature. They are committing themselves to the cause of driving those rights into local and state law by challenging the existing injustice and demanding fundamental, systemic change.
The first-in-the-state Community Bill of Rights ordinance banning fracking was adopted in November 2013 in Lafayette by 58% of the voters. Not surprisingly, the state teamed up with wealthy corporate interests to overturn the majority will of the people and foist corporate projects on the community, against the consent of the governed.
While other communities are working to enact Community Bills of Rights to protect their rights against corporate-state collusion and harm, the Colorado Community Rights Network (COCRN), launched in 2014, hit the ground running with a state-wide initiative to place a CELDF-drafted Community Rights Constitutional Amendment on the ballot for November 2016. This amendment, if adopted by the people, will establish the right of municipal governments and the citizens of home rule communities to enact local laws that protect community rights, free from state preemption and corporate interference.
For more information on the Colorado Community Rights Network, email CoCommRights@gmail.com.
New Hampshire Community Rights Network
Since 2006, CELDF has been assisting the people of New Hampshire to build a grassroots movement advancing community rights and protecting themselves from corporate water withdrawals, unsustainable energy development, and gas pipelines. Through codifying community rights and banning harmful activities as violations of those rights, these Towns are elevating the rights of communities and nature above the claimed “rights” of corporations.
CELDF supported the founding of the New Hampshire Community Rights Network (NHCRN) by Granite Staters in 2013, to educate residents and elected officials in New Hampshire about the right of local community self-government. Residents gathered from across the state to seat the Board of Directors in Barnstead, NH – where the Community Rights people’s movement began. In 2006 at Town Meeting, Barnstead enacted a first-in-the-nation rights-based local law, prohibiting water extractions by asserting the rights of residents to water and to local self-government, and rejecting the corporate claimed right to take community water.
NHCRN has grown to include more than fifteen communities who understand that, as important as it is to change law locally, those changes must be driven to the state level. NHCRN members are calling for state level change, such that every community is freed from the oppression of assumed corporate “rights,” as well as from state, federal, or international preemptions carried out on behalf of corporations. Such preemptions override local authority and deny people’s fundamental rights.
The state is charged with protecting citizen’s rights – the most fundamental of all being a self-governing people, and the right to change government – particularly noted in the New Hampshire State Constitution, Part First, Bill of Rights, Article 10, the Right of Revolution –
Government being instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security, of the whole community, and not for the private interest or emolument of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government. The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.
To remedy the present illegitimate use of government to deny community rights, CELDF has partnered with NHCRN to draft the New Hampshire Community Rights Amendment, adding Article 40. Right of Local Community Self-Government to the New Hampshire State Constitution’s Bill of Rights. NHCRN proposed the amendment to legislators in 2016 and again in 2018. Each introduction has gained bi-partisan support from legislators.
If the measure is approved by the legislature and adopted by New Hampshire voters, the New Hampshire state constitution will specifically recognize the right of communities to ban unsustainable development, and put in place stronger environmental protections than in state and federal law.
For more information about the New Hampshire Community Rights Network and our work to protect communities and advance rights, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Mexico Coalition for Community Rights
In June 2012, CELDF partnered with residents from several New Mexico communities to launch the New Mexico Coalition for Community Rights (NMCCR). The Coaliton was initiated from the momentum of the Community Rights Ordinance drafted by CELDF and adopted by the City Council of Las Vegas in April 2012. The first in the state, the ordinance prohibits shale gas drilling and fracking within the municipality and asserts the sovereign rights of residents, including to protect the rights of nature.
A similar ordinance was adopted in 2013 by the Mora County Commissioners. Industry intervention in the governance of the community resulted in a highly politicized legal defeat. The replacement of community-minded Commissioners by corporate-friendly officials led to the rejection of CELDF legal support and their decision not to appeal the negative court ruling.
For more information, contact CELDF at email@example.com or 717-498-0054.
Ohio Community Rights Network
The right to community self-government is the essence of American revolutionary doctrine. But in Ohio, communities are governed by a patchwork of constitutional and statutory laws that grant unequal self-governing authority to home rule municipalities, statutory municipalities and unincorporated townships. By granting a bland and narrow spectrum of powers to these variously constituted communities, the right to local self-government is procedurally denied to all Ohioans.
In 2012, the first communities in the State – Yellow Springs and Broadview Heights – challenged these denials, adopting Community Bills of Rights that assert their rights to clean air and water, the rights of nature, and their right to local self-governance. Shale gas drilling and fracking is banned in these local laws as violations of those community rights. In 2013, Oberlin residents adopted a similar initiative by 70% of the vote, followed by the city of Athens in 2014. Today, many communities and counties are engaged in Community Rights campaigns to protect themselves and local ecosystems from fracking, disposal of waste, and pipelines.
In November 2013, communities came together to launch the Ohio Community Rights Network (OHCRN). Attendees published the Columbus Declaration, calling on communities across the State to join the Community Rights movement, whereby community rights are elevated above corporate claimed “rights” and state attempts to usurp local self-governing authority. Ohio communities and counties are supporting one another in their organizing with the ultimate goal of making change at the state level through a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment that recognizes and codifies the right of the people to local self-governance.
For more information on the Ohio Community Rights Network, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oregon Community Rights Network
For decades, residents, farmers, and community advocates of Western Oregon have faced corporate led and state sponsored attacks on local self-government, including their right to decide what agriculture and forestry look like in their communities.
In addition to the state’s restrictive “Right to Farm” and “Right to Forest” Acts, which divest communities of their right to stop the harmful practices of these industries, the state legislature enacted SB 863 in the fall of 2013, preempting communities from decision-making authority about agricultural seed. Dubbed by many as the Monsanto Protection Act, the state legally protects corporations peddling GMO seed and pesticides from community interference – including community efforts to stop them.
In the face of these and other usurpations, such as worker rights and social justice issues, the people of Oregon have begun to organize for fundamental change through the growing community rights model.
Today, rights-based initiatives to establish the rights of communities to protect their food systems and forests, shift towards sustainable energy futures, and address other social and economic issues, are underway in Benton, Columbia, Coos, Douglas, Lane, and Lincoln Counties. A similar effort is emerging in Jackson County as well.
In September 2013, with growing numbers of communities advancing community rights, the people of Oregon came together to launch the Oregon Community Rights Network (ORCRN). Delegates from eight Oregon counties released the Corvallis Declaration of Community Rights, calling upon communities across the state to join the community rights movement to support existing rights-based organizing efforts and to build support to drive change to the state level, elevating the rights of communities and nature above corporate claimed “rights” and state efforts to preempt community decision making.
In the spring of 2015, ORCRN launched a statewide campaign to amend the Oregon Constitution, which – if adopted – will secure the right of local community self-government. Supporters are aiming to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.
For more information on the Oregon Community Rights Network, contact email@example.com.
Pennsylvania Community Rights Network
The current structure of law in Pennsylvania systematically strips communities of the power to adopt laws to protect their health and safety, particularly when those laws come into direct conflict with corporate decisionmaking.
This system thus prohibits communities from banning projects and activities that they consider dangerous and harmful – everything from corporate factory farms to the land dumping of sewage sludge and “hydro-fracking” for natural gas. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania communities have found out the hard way that the existing structure does not provide a remedy for these problems, and that a corporate minority, with the blessing of the state, has almost wholesale control over our communities on almost any issue that really matters.
Folks involved with the Pennsylvania Community Rights Network (PACRN) have seen this system for what it is. PACRN is a democratic, statewide organization focused on asserting fundamental rights to achieve constitutional change that liberates local community self-government.
PACRN has grown out of the local grassroots organizing that the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund has assisted Pennsylvania communities with for over 15 years. That work includes assisting communities to draft Community Bills of Rights – in effect, local constitutions – that assert new civil and political rights for the community, and then prohibit those activities that would infringe on those rights.
Washington Community Rights Network
In July 2012, citizens from Washington communities gathered in Spokane to launch the Washington Community Rights Network (WACRN).
Network members released The Spokane Declaration, calling upon communities across the state to join together in a movement to elevate the rights of people, their communities, and nature above the claimed rights of corporations. This comes with an understanding, as stated in the Declaration, that:
(O)ur communities are under siege from corporations exploiting our communities for resource extraction and a variety of other uses harmful to us and the natural environment…from a structure of law that has bestowed greater rights on those corporations than the communities in which they operate…
The creation of the Washington Community Rights Network comes out of active community campaigns on both sides of the Cascades.
For more information, contact Kai Huschke at 509-607-5034, or firstname.lastname@example.org.