Paul Cienfuegos’ August 26, 2014 Commentary on KBOO Evening News
(His weekly commentaries are broadcast every Tuesday evening. You can view or listen to them all at PaulCienfuegos.com, CommunityRightsPDX.org, or subscribe via ITunes.)
Greetings! You are listening to the new weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos.
Imagine what it might be like if We The People could find a way to take back our power from the large business corporations that now pretty much run our lives.
That’s what the Community Rights movement has been working hard on now for about fifteen years. Don’t be surprised if you have not yet heard of our movement, because all of the 160 communities in nine states that have already passed laws that are reigning in corporate constitutional so-called “rights” are all far from Oregon. Fortunately, that’s about to change.
For the past three years, myself and Kai Huschke – a community organizer based in Spokane – have been giving talks and leading workshops across western Oregon. Because of our hard work, there are now local Community Rights groups in eight Oregon counties, and one of them – Josephine County in the southwest corner of the state – is already moving rapidly towards placing Oregon’s first-ever Community Rights ordinance on the ballot this November. If passed by the Josephine County voters, it would enshrine the right of local residents to be free from pesticides.
You see, the Community Rights movement is all about securing new locally enforceable rights to protect our communities and nature. Each one of our ordinances enshrines specific new rights to protect a community’s or county’s well-being. This is new-paradigm law-making. These are not conventional local laws, which merely regulate the rate at which things get worse and worse and worse.
Our ordinances ban these harmful but legal corporate activities. In the case of Josephine County, the ordinance bans corporations or governments from applying pesticides to any forest or farmland county-wide, because this act of spraying pesticides violates the right of the people and lands of Josephine County to be free from pesticides. You can find out more about this campaign at FreedomFromPesticidesAlliance.org.
Benton County is also moving quickly to establish a Community Rights ordinance. This one would ensure the right to a local food system. It would ban all GMO agriculture,
because the planting of GMO seeds anywhere in Benton County would violate the residents’ right to a local food system. They hope to be on the ballot in May of 2015. More information can be found at BentonCCRC.org.
Lane County’s Community Rights group is working hard to pass a similar ordinance sometime in 2015. More info about them can be found at CommunityRightsLaneCounty.org.
A new Community Rights group formed recently in Columbia County, which is just downriver from Portland. Their goal is to ban all coal and oil trains from passing through their county, and to stop the terminals from exporting coal or oil from Port Westward near Clatskanie.
There are also fledgling Community Rights groups in Yamhill and Marion and Lincoln counties.
Here in Portland, four of us founded our local Community Rights group in January of 2012, and we’ve been meeting steadily ever since. I will tell you more about the Portland group’s activities next week. Or check out our website at CommunityRightsPDX.org.
The Community Rights groups across Oregon are united around one goal – to strip corporations of their constitutional so-called “right” to cause economic and social and ecological harm in our communities. And to tackle this problem, we are all working together to pass one local law after another that will enshrine our inherent right to govern ourselves locally, and to protect the health and welfare of people and nature.
I hope you will consider finding out more about the fast-growing movement here in Oregon. If you’re in the Portland area, come to our monthly free two-hour Orientation workshops. Check out our various group websites, and learn about my partners at the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, at CELDF.org. These are the folks who help the communities to draft and to legally defend these new-paradigm local laws.
You’ve been listening to the new weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos. You can hear future commentaries every Tuesday on the KBOO Evening News. I welcome your feedback.
You can subscribe to my new weekly podcast at CommunityRightsPDX.org. You can sign up for my newsletter at PaulCienfuegos.com. THANKS FOR LISTENING! And remember: WE are the people we’ve been WAITING for!