Paul Cienfuegos’ October 7, 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.
In just four short weeks, the state of California is likely to be joining the list of states where local communities or counties have passed legally-binding locally-enforceable Community Rights ordinances. On the far north coast of the state lies the rural county of Mendocino – an incredibly beautiful and wild place filled with rocky ocean cliffs, ancient redwood groves, and steep dry hills of ancient oak and marijuana gardens.
The people of Mendocino County are worried that fracking is coming to this beautiful place, and so over the past year, they have invited me down to lead three weekend workshops to help them figure out how to run a county-wide Community Rights ballot initiative campaign that would enshrine into law their Right to Water, and ban fracking as a violation of their Right to Water.
This November 4th, they expect to win overwhelmingly at the polls, and California will then become the 9th state in the union where towns or counties have adopted Community Rights as a legal and cultural strategy to end corporate control.
I am here on a RoadShow, visiting ten small towns in just eight days. Every evening, we share a potluck dinner, local campaign folks speak, I speak, and then we get to dance as musicians play wonderful tunes. It is tremendously exciting to be working side by side each day with local elected officials, restaurant and vineyard owners, organic farmers, directors of non-profit groups, homesteaders, and folks from many other walks of life.
Intriguingly, there is no public opposition at all to their fracking ban. No statement of opposition in the Voters Guide. No editorials from the other side. This county’s residents – be they hippies or rednecks or owners of large businesses – appear ready to vote Yes on Measure S and enshrine into law their right to water and a ban on fracking. It may be just in time, because the word is that the KOAK brothers have recently purchased a home here, so who knows what scary new industrial plans are secretly being developed.
Fracking is already ravaging other parts of California, primarily in the central valley, where the poisoning of groundwater could have very dire consequences on an area that is one of the primary sources of fresh produce for the entire country. Not to mention the few remaining wildlife areas throughout that region.
The Mendocino campaign group is already thinking beyond the November 4th elections. They’re already pushing the envelope further, imagining what it would take to bring the left and right together across the county, in an even bolder second ballot initiative in the next year or two. They’re asking themselves the biggest and scariest and most exciting question they can think of – “What Do We Want?”
What kind of energy sources do we want to be developing here? What kind of public transit system do we want here? What kind of forestry laws do we want here? What kind of agriculture do we want here? Are we really okay with the status quo, that we’ve all long-since grown accustomed to, where we just take it for granted that corporate leaders make most of these kinds of decisions for us, and the best we can do is ask for a little less harm? Or are the people of Mendocino County on the verge of breaking out of that conceptual prison, and exercising their inherent right to govern themselves? The next few years are going to be very exciting here.
But for now, all of the work is focused on getting out the largest possible vote in favor of Measure S on November 4th. I wish them all the best. It has been a true honor to be part of their efforts.
You can find out more about Mendocino County’s history-making Community Rights campaign at YESonS.me, that’s yes on s dot me.
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 via I-Tunes or 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!