With Todd Boyle’s Rewind, a speech Todd recorded in early 2018:
[00:00:07] Michelle Holman (Community Rights Lane County): From a community rights standpoint, government does not serve the people because it has been captured by corporate interests. Corporate government is not government of the people, and we the people did not consent.
[00:00:20] Why do corporations have more protections to do harm in our community than we have, to protect ourselves from those harms? Harmful corporate activities are legally protected by unjust laws, that are written by corporate lobbyists, enforced by our government.
[00:00:37] Every community faces corporate harm from fracking, to water extraction, to pipelines, to corporate overreach into our public schools. That list goes on and on and on.
[00:00:47] Our government and laws invigorate corporations to put profits over people and planet.
[00:00:52] What we really have is a democracy problem. When we acknowledge that we have a democracy problem, we realize that we live under a system of laws that really doesn’t care about what we want.
[00:01:04] Decisions about what corporate activity that take place in our community should be made by us because we’re the people that have to live with the harm. At this point it’s corporations that are making those decisions, and corporate heads who don’t even live here. It’s not their families that are suffering.
[00:01:20] Corporations are aided by governments who profit from, but don’t have to live with, the ill effects of their actions. We do not live in a democracy. We live in a corporatocracy. We think democracy is a really good idea and that we should try it.
[00:01:33] The key to true democracy is sitting in this room: It’s ‘We, the people.’ We’re the missing factor. We must step up to the responsibilities required, because without us defining and populating the work, the insane legal structure that rewards corporate greed will continue to rule the day.
[00:01:52] Nature is viewed as property. And we feel from a community rights standpoint that Nature needs to legally be recognized and protected by law. The perception of Nature only as property denies Nature’s inalienable right to exist, persist, and flourish. The system that neglects the rights of Nature will not fix itself.
[00:02:15] So it’s up to us. We have a moral responsibility to protect the places in which we live, and we’re inspired by the abolitionists and the suffragists, generations—I mean, that did not happen overnight. So we take a lot of inspiration from those people before us, and we really are challenging corporate privilege and laws that protect that privilege, in stark opposition to our health and our safety and our welfare, and The Planet and all Her inhabitants.
[00:02:43] I grew up in Oregon. I was educated in Oregon schools. I never heard this clause from our constitution, and I bet there’s a few of you who haven’t heard it either, but this is Article I, Section 1 from our constitution: ‘Natural rights inherent in people. We declare that all people, when they form a social compact are equal in right: that all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness; and they have at all times a right to alter, reform, or abolish the government in such manner as they may think proper.’ It’s a very empowering clause and it requires us to act.
[00:03:29] ‘We, the people’ have the right and responsibility to replace unjust law with law that protects us and The Earth Herself. And as community rights activists, we challenge those unjust laws that protect harmful corporate activities, that allow damage to occur right where we live. We work to replace those unfair laws, that protect corporate interests, with fair laws that protect us and our communities.
[00:03:53] We have forgotten who we are. We are the freaking people and we are the sovereign. And for many of us, we were never taught, so we don’t acknowledge that power rests in the people. They, the governmental-corporate alliance, they work for us. So community rights requires us to exercise our constitutionally-granted power.
[00:04:15] The right of local self-government serves to keep state and federal government honest by limiting their authority to prevent us at the local level from adding new legal protections from harmful corporate activity.
[00:04:27] And at the same time, it controls the ability of corporations to assert greater authority over us in our communities. It changes a community from being corporate property, for the benefit of corporate profit, to that of the community, shaping how corporate behavior will benefit the well-being of all of us, Nature included.
[00:04:47] Community rights applies to a broad range of rights: Nature’s rights, environmental rights (the right to clean air, water, and soil); workers’ rights (the right to a living wage, equal pay for equal work, etc.), and democratic rights, such as the right to local community self-government, which includes our right to write and pass laws.
[00:05:10] So, you know, we do this work because we love each other. We love The Planet. With your help, we can create a planet that we will be proud to pass on to our kids and their kids.