Press Release: New Commentary and Coverage of the National Community Rights Movement from Portland, OR

Weekly commentary and coverage of the National Community Rights Movement by Paul Cienfuegos available now for broadcast

“Paul Cienfuegos’ commentaries go to the heart of defining and prioritizing community rights. He says, ‘We are all living in a corporate state, where it’s difficult to figure out where our government ends and our large corporations begin.’ That is the crucial dilemma We the People face. Paul’s observations are incisive and pithy and are linked to citizen action. Keep listening.”

                                                                   –David Barsamian, Director Alternative Radio  

January 21, 2015
CONTACT: Jen Forti

Did you know that there is currently an ecosystem in Pennsylvania suing a fracking corporation?  Did you know that 200 communities in nine states have already passed locally enforceable laws that strip corporations of their so-called constitutional “rights” in order to protect their communities from harmful corporate activities? If you were listening to our weekly Community Rights commentary you would know that the Little Mahoning Watershed in Grant Township, PA is exercising its right to flourish. How will this case play out?

Since August of 2014, the Community Rights Movement has been the focus of a weekly commentary created by Paul Cienfuegos and broadcast every Tuesday on the KBOO Radio’s Evening News in Portland, Corvallis, and Hood River, Oregon.

The Community Rights Movement calls upon neighbors across the country to join together to elevate the rights of people and the rest of nature above the claimed rights of corporations.

Already available for download through Audioport, by featuring this six-minute weekly commentary on your radio station, you will be bringing the latest news about this exciting new movement in civil empowerment to your station’s listeners. Visit

If you’re a station manager with access to Audioport, find us using the keyword “Paul Cienfuegos”.

If you’re a listener, contact your local radio station manager and request that they begin airing this broadcast.


Becoming We The People – A 3 Day Workshop in April

Community Rights + Song + Theater = Finding our Voice as Citizens

A weekend with Paul Cienfuegos presenting the workshop content, Laurence Cole leading singing and Kelly Hogan offering ‘games of dialogue’ using Theater of the Oppressed techniques.

April 4, 5 & 6 at Tryon Life Community Farm, Portland, OR

What is it that most deeply matters to you? What kind of town/landscape do you want to create for our children? For our grandchildren? We invite you to spend a weekend with us as we learn more effective ways to protect our local communities and the rest of the living world by learning about and exercising our inherent right to govern ourselves. Your voice is the carrier of what matters to you. Imagine using that voice to both speak and sing, as an empowered member of your local community.

Beginning in Pennsylvania, and now stretching across nine states from Maine to New Mexico, 160 communities have passed legally binding, locally enforceable Community Rights laws that for the first time in U.S. history enshrine the inherent right of a local majority of residents to protect the health and welfare of their local places. Each of these new-paradigm laws defines what the community wants, reins in corporate so-called “rights”, and stops legal but harmful corporate activity dead in its tracks.

What is Theater of the Oppressed?

By utilizing the Community Rights legal strategy, and by blending our voices with others, we actually CAN empower ourselves as citizens to achieve goals regarding water, air, energy, frack sand mining, cell phone towers, land & economic development, education, etc…

We the People really are more powerful than we dare to believe.

If you think of yourself as a non-singer who would be uncomfortable in the singing, know that you can just listen to others. You might then find yourself humming along, and maybe later, trying out one of the easy-to-learn parts that carries you into harmony with the group, contributing to a ‘whole that is greater than the parts’.

No previous experience or knowledge of any sort is necessary to attend. We hope you’ll join us!

For workshop details and payment options, please visit

Registration is required in advance. The fee for this workshop is a sliding scale between $100 and $300 depending on your means.

Our workshop leaders:

  • Paul Cienfuegos has been leading workshops, giving public talks, and organizing local communities towards dismantling corporate rule and strengthening local democracy, since 1995 when he founded Democracy Unlimited in northern California. Now living in Portland, he co-founded Community Rights PDX in 2012, and the Oregon Community Rights Network in 2013. He continues to expand his life passion: to help communities near and far to rediscover their power to govern themselves. He has great faith in the inherent wisdom and capacity of everyone to strive for a better world. His talks have been broadcast nationally on Alternative Radio. More info at
  • Laurence Cole is a choir director and composer from Port Townsend, Washington. A long time eco-villager and advocate for the whole natural community, Laurence is known for leading many kinds of groups into the power and convivial pleasure of group singing; an ancient human process for investing a space and a community with beauty, meaning, connection, and the cohesive motive force “that helps shy people get up and do what needs to be done.” More info at
  • Kelly Hogan is a co-founder and preschool teacher at Mother Earth School. Her passions include teaching children and adults in an outdoor setting, utilizing a fusion of current, regenerative educational philosophies while weaving in her deep commitment to anti-oppression work. She has been attending Theater of the Oppressed trainings and researching topics of diversity and accessibility for the past 7 years. In July, 2013 she attended a Theater of the Oppressed facilitator training with the Mandala Center for Change and is now spearheading an effort toward creating a forum theater group for Portland educators.

Registration is required in advance. The fee for this workshop is a sliding scale between $100 and $300 depending on your means. Please choose a payment that honestly reflects your ability to financially support this event.

Download and Share the flyer:

Local Community Rights Efforts Undeterred: A Response to the Passage of SB 863

Oregon Community Rights Network

October 4, 2013

CONTACT: Kai Huschke
oregoncrn AT

Paul Cienfuegos
paul AT

On October 2nd the Oregon State Legislature voted to adopt SB 863, which imposes state preemption on local regulation of agriculture. SB 863 specifically says that, “exclusive regulatory power over agricultural seed, flower seed, nursery seed and vegetable seed and products of agricultural seed, flower seed, nursery seed and vegetable seed [will be reserved] to the state.” It becomes law when signed by Governor Kitzhaber. The full language of SB 863 can be found here.

The sole purpose of SB 863 is to eliminate local control over seed, including genetically modified seed (GMOs). This new preemptive law was not adopted to protect local communities but has been enacted to protect the interests of corporate industrial agriculture against local decision-making with regard to farm and food systems.

A version of SB 863 (known as SB 633) was first introduced in the Oregon Legislature’s 2013 Regular Session in direct response to a duly qualified initiative to ban GMOs in Jackson County and efforts underway in Benton and Lane County to protect the right to a local food system. Besides protecting a right to seed heritage and the ecosystems required for sustainable agriculture , the initiatives in Benton and Lane County also prohibit corporate and governmental entities from engaging with GMOs.

“From where we stand, SB 863 doesn’t change a thing,” says Michelle Holman, member of Support Local Food Rights of Lane County and the Oregon Community Rights Network. “We are more committed than ever to bring the right to a local food system ordinance out to the people of Lane County. This action by the legislature just makes it crystal clear that our system of governance isn’t for the people, but exists to protect big corporations by undermining community rights.”

Support Local Food Rights of Lane County recently received the go ahead from the County Clerk that their initiative met the review requirements. The next step in the process will be the issuing of a ballot title before signature gathering can begin. The Benton County Community Rights Coalition is looking to refile its local food system ordinance by mid-October.

The Oregon Community Rights Network was launched on September 12th on the foundation of the Corvallis Declaration of Community Rights. The declaration calls 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:

“We the people recognize that our health, safety, welfare, and survival of our local businesses, farms, ecosystems, and neighborhoods depend on restructuring the current system of governance, because it favors corporations over community-based, democratic decision-making …”

Corvallis Declaration

The formation of the Oregon Community Rights Network comes out of ongoing and emerging community rights campaigns in eight counties in Western Oregon, including Benton, Lane, and Josephine. In Josephine County their community rights effort is about protecting the right to clean air, water, and soil from toxic pesticide use.

More information on the active community rights efforts can be found at the following links:

Benton Community Rights Coalition:

Support Local Food Rights:

Freedom from Pesticides Alliance:

The Oregon Community Rights Network receives assistance from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund and Paul Cienfuegos. CELDF, headquartered in Mercersburg, PA, has been working with people and communities across the United States and internationally since 1995 to assert fundamental rights to democratic local self-governance, recognize nature’s rights, and end destructive corporate actions aided and abetted by state and federal governments. Paul Cienfuegos is a longtime community rights organizer based out of Portland, Oregon.


Paul Cienfuegos:

Does Food Sovereignty Exist in the U.S.? Food and the Community Rights Movement


Originally Posted on on: May 08, 2013

Editor’s Note: Trisha Mandes speaks to the deficiencies of U.S. food activism and proposes an adaptive way forward. Trisha has worked with community-based food projects in Oregon and Pennsylvania, and is now pursuing a Masters Degree in Public Health Nutrition and Sustainable Development at the University of Eastern Finland.

“We need to make fundamental changes to the structure of law that is working against us, not work around it.” –Trisha Mandes

By Trisha Mandes

The International Peasant’s Movement—La Via Campesina, defines food sovereignty as “the human right of all people to healthy, culturally appropriate, sustainably grown food, and the right of communities to determine their own food systems” (1).

Are our current food movements working to not only empower local control of food, but to takedown the forces that are preventing it? Food sovereignty strives to dismantle the neoliberal political powers that stop communities from deciding what food is imported or grown in their localities. Unfortunately, U.S. food justice and food security strategies are stuck battling these neoliberal harms from within corporate constraints that fail to fundamentally change the barriers faced by localities.

Despite the well-intentioned efforts of farmer’s markets and community gardens, this article aims to demonstrate how food security and food activism movements, especially through the regulatory system, are not moving towards food sovereignty.

Continue Reading →


Everywhere we look provides excellent evidence of just how smoothly our existing legal and governmental structure is operating. As Bill Moyers says,

“The system isn’t broken; it’s fixed.”

Corporations are neither “good” nor “bad” but simply fiscal vehicles functioning in perfect accord with legal doctrines that have been carefully constructed for over 100 years. It’s past time for us to craft municipal laws that publicly reveal and challenge those specific doctrines that currently allow a corporate few to override community democratic decision-making authority. And it has to start at the local level. Our state & federal levels of government are utterly captured: elected officials that don’t subscribe to the belief that commercial interests must have veto power over all other interests do not remain in office for long.

Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock

But 150 communities are leading the way, demonstrating that “deep democracy” change is possible when we the people enact rights-based municipal laws first and then drive those changes upward.  Pittsburgh’s done it. Spokane is doing it. So is Benton County, Oregon. Why not Portland?