by Thomas Linzey and Anneke Campbell
We the People offers powerful portraits of communities across the United States that have faced threats from environmentally destructive corporate projects and responded by successfully banning those projects at a local level. We hear the inspiring voices of ordinary citizens and activists practicing a cutting-edge form of organizing developed by the nonprofit law firm, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). Their methodology is an answer for the frustrations of untold numbers of activists who have been defeated time and again by corporate political power and legal entitlement.
Instead of fighting against what we don’t want, this book can teach us to create from the ground up what we do want, basing our vision in local control and law. By refusing to cooperate with the unjust laws that favor corporate profit over local sustainability, communities can show the way forward, driving their rights into state constitutions and, eventually, into the federal Constitution.
In communities from New Hampshire to Oregon, new forms of local organizing have sprung up to fight fracking, mining, dumping of toxic waste, and industrial agriculture, among other environmental assaults. These communities have recognized that the law has “legalized” the damaging actions of corporations, while providing no recourse against harm, and they have therefore decided to create a new system of law that makes local control and sustainability legal. Starting small, this process has spread from rural Pennsylvania to larger cities and towns, and has resulted in the creation of state networks seeking to amend state constitutions.
This work is about finishing the American Revolution by giving up the illusion of democracy and forging a system of true self-governance. In addition, this is about recognizing in law, for the first time in history, that nature possesses legally enforceable rights of its own.
“Nature’s right to gloriously carry forth are as inalienable as the sun rising each morning. Yet, we must fight hard to codify those immutable principles in human law and community practice. Tom Linzey and Anneke Campbell’s remarkable book help to revolutionize our thinking and our plan to enact and sustain this deep common sense. With an offense we can save the day. We the People: Stories from the Community Rights Movement in the United States is on the offense! ” —Randy Hayes, Rainforest Action Network founder, Executive Director Foundation Earth
“For thousands of years, the law of human beings was to keep the covenant with the natural world. Greed, the rise of empire and the modern corporate state have undermined this covenant and placed communities, human health, and the natural world in peril. The work on restoration of the rights of nature, and the rights of those who live there, or community rights, is essential to the transformation of our legal and policy system into one which is sustainable, and one which will serve the needs of the natural world and the seven generations ahead. This book is not only the concept, it is most importantly the practice of the hard work of making change.” —Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth
“As we scan the landscape of cataclysmic destruction, both environmental and social, behind the curtain in most cases is an economic motive. The rhinoceros in the room today is corporate power, the inevitable logic of a system that relentlessly concentrates wealth, distributes poverty, and leaves in its terrible wake a democracy deficit. This powerful book is a field guide to nonviolent revolution. It tells the story of how courageous communities are using innovative legal and political strategies to restore nature, communities, and democracy. It’s some of the most important work in the world today. Read it and act.” —Kenny Ausubel, CEO and founder of Bioneers
"Tireless, brilliant, and courageous, Thomas Linzey and all the other great people at CELDF have long been my heroes. If democracy—and the planet—have any chance of survival, it is through the work of wonderful people such as these, who both teach us and inspire us to action. I am grateful to PM Press for this excellent new book." —Derrick Jensen
About the Authors:
Thomas Linzey is an attorney and the executive director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a nonprofit law firm that has provided assistance to over five hundred municipal governments and nonprofit organizations in the United States. He is the coauthor of YES! magazine’s This Changes Everything.
Anneke Campbell is a writer and documentary filmmaker who has worked for many years to advance the causes of justice and respect for all humanity and the environment. She is the coauthor of Moonrise: The Power of Women Leading from the Heart.