Most citizens have political opinions. Many are involved in nonprofit community-based organizations. But the time-impaired average person remains politically disorganized and distracted. Collective political action nationally is often limited to mobilizing for wars and elections. Disengagement can seem the norm. Community organizers are bucking this trend. Local issues, be they environmental, fair wages, or municipalization of energy and Internet services, are getting more and more people off their couches. Efforts to assert community rights encounter structural obstacles to direct democracy such as Dillon’s Rule, regulatory law, and the effects of nearly 200 years of corporate constitutional rights. Undaunted, groups like Community Rights PDX, Global Exchange, and the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund urge passing local ordinances to defend citizens from further environmental damage and corporate exploitation.
Paul Cienfuegos is a national leader in the Community Rights movement, which works to dismantle corporate constitutional so-called “rights” and assert the people’s inherent right to self-government. He founded Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County in 1995, co-founded Oregon Community Rights Network in 2013, and co-founded Community Rights US in 2017. More info at www.CommunityRights.US.
Amy Heflin –
It was a relief to hear that Community Rights movement so succinctly summarized and defined. And also to hear it explained what works to fight corporations and what does not. Anyone who’s been on the best end of fighting a behemoth corporate entity on the side of caring community members should hear Cienfuegos’ lecture. It’s refreshing to hear what the common person’s right are — spelled out, defined, and declared.
South Deerfield, MA
Robert Sacerich –
While I agree with the overall message of communities having power over what dictates their lives, some of the points brought up were poor. For example, when you talk about the community wanting to prohibit the planting of GMO crops because they aren’t convinced of their safety, that’s a bit of a red flag. First, you’re talking about legislating against the right of farmers to produce the crops they choose, which is antithetical to the point you’re trying to make here, purely based on “we don’t believe the government.” Second, this isn’t about the government. This is about people who are mostly not versed in science, and especially biotech, making decisions about something that isn’t even a question at this point scientifically. The science overwhelmingly shows no danger. The public outcry is purely due to the fear mongering and misinformation campaign by the organic competitors in the same industry, trying to legislate against their competition.
Dana Franchitto –
I totally agree with his ideas and arguments within the context of corporations vs citizens. But “local rule” has also been used to deny civil rights to minority citizens and to preserve Jim Crow laws in the South. If it were not for the FederalGovt. ,we on Cape Cod, MA would not be able to enjoy the Cape Cod National Seashore. There would be no national park system to protect wilderness areas. There would be no workers/ rights or anti-racism laws. SO “local self -government ” cuts two ways.
JoAnne Kriskowski –
The area that I live in is still under threat of fracking though it has diminished somewhat due to what seems to be the relativly expensive cost of extracting the gas in this specific part of the Marcellus Shale. I am returning to live in the US after more than 10 yrs living in Mexico. I have been watching the politics of the US in general and of upstate NY in specific. It seems to me that the supreme court has, thru recent rulings (including Citizens United), robbed us of faith in the Democratic process. This presentation by Paul Cienfuegos speakes to all the vague feelings of government-gone-wrong and he sketches out the necessary, reasonable response. Just Great!