Community Rights movement gains traction in Oregon

The Community Rights movement, which asserts that communities have the same rights as governments and corporations, has expanded into eight Oregon counties.

The movement usually operates by encouraging local people to create ordinances that formally declare community self-determination, “community rights,” at a municipal level – as law.

Community Rights are usually invoked to protect a locality’s health, environment and to require sustainable practices.  Doing this, communities around the nation have stopped corporations from establishing factory farms, from dumping toxic sludge and from building “big box” retail stores within their borders.

Colorado made national headlines last year when the Community Rights advocates assisted localities (Lafayette, Boulder, Boulder County and Longmont, among others,) in passing bans or moratoriums to limit or stop oil drilling and natural gas fracking.

“It’s about empowering communities, giving them the right to decide what rights to allow and protect,” says Kai Hunschke, organizer for the Community Legal Defense Fund (CLDF) who was in Salem recently.  “Right now Josephine County [in Southwest Oregon] is petitioning for the right to be free of pesticides, and Benton and Lane Counties are petitioning for local food systems.”

In 2008, CLDF assisted the country of Ecuador in drafting a constitution that recognized the inalienable right of nature to exist, rather than being only property with no rights of its own.

Hunschke says that ten states have now adopted community rights laws and that, with momentum building in so many counties, Oregon is not far behind.

2 Comments

  1. Richard Reid says:

    The “community rights” movement is taking root in 10 states including Oregon. We have 8 Oregon counties engaged in community rights campaigns. Several are involved in claiming the right to farm without GMOs.

    To assert our rights we rely on the Declaration of Independence. Here’s what the Oregon Constitution says about “rights”:
    “Natural rights inherent in people.
    We declare that all [people], when they form a social compact are equal in right: that all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness; and they have at all times a right to alter, reform, or abolish the government in such manner as they may think proper.” (Bill of Rights, Oregon State Constitution, Art 1, Sec 1. November 9, 1857)

    The best information about the movement is on the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund website CELDF.org.

    Our next Marion County Community Rights chapter meeting is 10am, Saturday, March 1 at the IKE Box. The one after that is March 15. We are finishing our strategic planning and will soon consider ideas for appropriate ordinances for our County and City.

    Ready to work?
    Join the community rights movement.

    Reply
  2. Sarah Owens says:

    Those considering involvement with community rights groups in Oregon might want to consider the community rights strategy as discussed in this recent blog (posted at two different sites).

    http://www.iopsociety.org/blog/community-rights
    http://zcomm.org/zblogs/community-rights-as-an-organizing-strategy/

    Reply

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