New Community Rights Paper: Firing Big Green

The last paper explored the history of the term NIMBY (“Not In My Back Yard”) as a creation of corporate chemical companies to demean and marginalize local opposition to industrialization, and it moves beyond that phrase to the declaration of “Not in anybody’s backyard” — the idea that no one should have to live with the environmental destruction, water pollution, toxic fallout and other problems of being the site of an industrial project.

This next paper uses the analogy of Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt, to address the role Big Green, aka Environmental Non-profit Industrial Complex, plays in the destruction of life’s earth support systems.  Big Green is more interested in proving it can play by the rules created by those who destroy life on earth than it is in actually stopping the destruction.  We need to reject Big Green in order to focus on what matters: stopping the destruction.   Communities do this in two ways:

  1. Banning activities that violate their right to clean air, water and a sustainable energy future and
  2. Recognizing through law that nature has rights of its own.

We can easily translate this community rights frame into a more general human rights activist frame as well, by locally recognizing human rights that existing laws do not recognize and by banning activities that violate any human rights.  For example, US law allows domestic police forces to use substances banned from warfare in international law on its own population.  Communities can recognize the right to be free from use of excessive force and police brutality and ban such practices locally, changing the way that policing happens in their community.

Read more:  We have a static link to these papers from our Resources page.


National Community Rights Network Holds Historic First Meeting

click here to read in pdf

CONTACT: Cliff Willmeng,, 303-478-6613
Or: Wendy Lee,, 570-394-3849


October 30, 2014
SEVEN SPRINGS, PENNSYLVANIA: At its historic first meeting earlier this month, members of the National Community Rights Network (NCRN) gathered to seat their permanent Board of Directors and accelerate the work of advancing the rights of local communities to the state and national level.

The NCRN has grown out of the grassroots organizing of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), which has assisted communities to advance Community Rights at the local level for nearly 20 years.  More than 160 communities across the U.S. have adopted CELDF-drafted Community Bills of Rights, protecting community rights to clean air and water, sustainable food, energy, and other systems, and the right to local self-governance.

Since 2010, these same communities have joined together to launch state Community Rights Networks (CRNs) consisting of municipalities, grassroots organizations, and local government officials supporting Community Rights, in order to drive those rights to the state level. The NCRN is the next step in that advancement.

“The NCRN has rapidly become the leading voice in the country for Community Rights and the right to local, community self-government. It is the movement that environmental, civil rights, and labor activists have been looking for – one that liberates communities across the country from being at the mercy of corporate “rights” and governmental powers exercised by those corporations,” said Thomas Linzey, Executive Director of CELDF.  Linzey added, “The time has come to free ourselves from those constraints and become self-governing in the name of economic and environmental sustainability.”

President of the NCRN, Cliff Willmeng, of Lafayette, Colorado, stated, “People and communities have for too long lived with the regulation of our freedoms, and the exploitation of our labor and natural environment. The NCRN is a leap forward for genuine grassroots organizing, and provides a platform for systemic, democratic changes to our government and economy.”

The new board members represent Pennsylvania (PACRN), New Hampshire (NHCRN), Oregon (ORCRN), Ohio (OHCRN), Colorado (COCRN), New Mexico (NMCCR) and Washington (WACRN). Each delegate has engaged in Community Rights efforts locally and is dedicated to elevating the rights of communities above the claimed “rights” of corporations in order to protect and establish sustainable food, energy, economic, and other systems.

The NCRN is committed to providing education, outreach, and support for the development of additional statewide Community Rights Networks. The organization is partnering with state and local Community Rights advocates to build a grassroots, people-driven, Community Rights Movement that will democratize and humanize decision-making at all levels.

The NCRN mission is to assist our state Community Rights Networks to educate people across the country on local, community self-governance and community rights; secure the inalienable rights of all people, communities, and ecosystems through local self-governance; assert community rights to empower and liberate communities from state preemption and corporate harm; and advance those efforts toward state and federal constitutional change.

New Community Rights Paper: NIMBYism

In the last paper, CELDF explored the grassroots history of the Declaration of Independence — namely, how communities across the colonies were declaring themselves independent of British rule years before the appearance of the revolutionary document.

In this next paper, CELDF explores the history of the term NIMBY (“Not In My Back Yard”) as a creation of corporate chemical companies to demean and marginalize local opposition to industrialization, and it moves beyond that phrase to the declaration of “Not in anybody’s backyard” — the idea that no one should have to live with the environmental destruction, water pollution, toxic fallout and other problems of being the site of an industrial project.  When we accept this premise, then it opens up avenues for us to explore what sustainable economies and infrastructure need to look like.

More importantly, it explores the process of how local communities reject the corporate framing of issues in order to take back power and make decisions on their own terms.

We’ll have a static link to these papers from our Resources page.


Community Rights and Food Justice

Mari Margil, Associate Director of CELDF, writes into the New York Times:

Communities are asking whether we really have democracy if we don’t have the authority to decide how our food is grown and what food we eat. They are no longer willing to wait for answers from the top. Instead, they’re planting the seeds of a new democracy movement beginning at the grass roots.

Read more:

Agricorporations worldwide comprise the new face of colonialism.  The British East India Company — a virtual corporate subsidiary of the English government — had the responsibility of stripping India of its industrial independence and strength, just to make the colony completely dependent on British textiles.  To accomplish this, East India Company thugs raped, pillaged and plundered.  This included cutting off the hands and thumbs of Indian Master Weavers (which led to the disappearance of one of the world’s finest fabrics, muslin), and, in one case, raping, pillaging, plundering and sacking an entire town of 5,000 people, and then subsequently erasing that town from the historical record.

As John Oliver says,

Being British is a bit like being an alcoholic…when someone says you did something aweful, you find yourself going, ‘honestly, i don’t even remember doing that, but probably…sorry, sorry’

So what does this have to do with Monsanto, per se?  Thanks to its colonial legacy of resource and wealth extraction (a benefit that Great Britain enjoys to this day), the Indian subcontinent remains largely impoverished and bereft of its incredibly rich small-scale artisan community.  Part of the British strategy was to transform India from an industrial power into an agricultural colony completely dependent on the English economy:

In 1813, the British decided that India should no longer be an industrial nation (which it had been a leader since the earliest records) but an agricultural nation and colony of an industrialized England! British goods were sold in India and Indian goods were gradually replaced.


They took raw materials from Bangla and sold industrial products from Britain back to the Bengali people. The Muslin still caused a threat for sale of British fabric and so the weavers were forced to stop producing Muslin or passing on their skill to their children. To enforce these thumbs of the weavers were cut off.

So, here we stand, today, with India serving largely an agricultural export nation and virtual economic colony of the Global North, but not by its own designs.  This, apparently, wasn’t good enough, though.  US multinational corporations have found a way to intensify the exploitation and resource extraction.  Vandana Shiva writes about how Monsanto now controls 95% of India’s cotton seed:

The entry of Monsanto in the Indian seed sector was made possible with a 1988 Seed Policy imposed by the World Bank, requiring the Government of India to deregulate the seed sector.  Five things changed with Monsanto’s entry:

  1. First, Indian companies were locked into joint-ventures and licensing arrangements, and concentration over the seed sector increased.
  2. Second, seed which had been the farmers’ common resource became the “intellectual property” of Monsanto, for which it started collecting royalties, thus raising the costs of seed.
  3. Third, open pollinated cotton seeds were displaced by hybrids, including GMO hybrids. A renewable resource became a non-renewable, patented commodity.
  4. Fourth, cotton which had earlier been grown as a mixture with food crops now had to be grown as a monoculture, with higher vulnerability to pests, disease, drought and crop failure.
  5. Fifth, Monsanto started to subvert India’s regulatory processes and, in fact, started to use public resources to push its non-renewable hybrids and GMOs through so-called public-private partnerships (PPP).


Monsanto’s seed monopolies, the destruction of alternatives, the collection of superprofits in the form of royalties, and the increasing vulnerability of monocultures has created a context for debt, suicides and agrarian distress which is driving the farmers’ suicide epidemic in India. This systemic control has been intensified with Bt cotton. That is why most suicides are in the cotton belt.

So we see that Monsanto’s current activities in India piggyback on and further intensify the exploitation that started with British colonialism.  The final kicker:  Monsanto, having completed its “proof of concept” for a colonial model of industrialized agricultural resource extraction, now has turned its sights back to the US and has began targeting domestic farmers:

Monsanto dedicates $10 million a year and 75 staffers for the sole purpose of investigating and prosecuting farmers, suing an average of 11 farmers per year.

93 percent of soybeans, 88 percent of cotton, and 86 percent of corn in the US are grown from Monsanto’s patented seeds.

Sound familiar?  The government and the US legal system (a system derived from English Common Law, coincidentally) all serve an elite few who use large, multinational corporations and corporate collusion with government to accomplish the exploitation and resource extraction that defines their business models.

Community Rights gives natural and human communities and persons a new form of democratic society and values that put the rights of people and planet before corporate profits wherever they conflict.  Sounds like it’s high time for a global democratic revolution!  Anyone who has found that their city, county, state and federal governments sabotage the health, safety and welfare of persons and communities in order to protect the commercial interests of an elite minority can benefit from rebel lawmaking to create a new democratic society where human rights and the rights of nature always have highest priority in the eyes of the law.


Thomas Linzey Speaking in Eugene June 4th!

If you are interested in setting up a carpool please contact us

We the People Rising Up: Rejecting Corporate Control One Community at a Time

Date: Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Time: 7:30 pm

Location: The Shedd Institute 868 High St. Eugene, OR

Fee: Free ($10 suggested donation)


Everyday people in 200 communities across the United States are beginning to rewrite American constitutional law to elevate the right of local, community self-government above corporate “rights” and powers.

Come listen to the stories of how these communities, spread across eight states including Oregon, are stepping forward to assert their right to say “no” to GMOs, pesticides, fracking, corporate water withdrawal, and harmful energy projects.

This is the beginning of a new civil rights movement forging its way towards state and federal constitutional change that will liberate communities from corporate control in order to protect the rights of people and nature.

Thomas Linzey short bio:

Thomas Linzey is an attorney and the Executive Director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). His work has been featured in the New York TimesLos Angeles TimesMother JonesThe Nation, and he was named, in 2007, as one of Forbes’ magazines’ “Top Ten Revolutionaries.”

Or click here for a black and white version

Click on the picture for a color PDF or click here for a black and white version


Introducing Community Rights Papers

What are Community Rights? Where did they come from? Why do we need them?

In a series of Community Rights Papers, we will explore the roots of Community Rights in our history, and how they’ve emerged as rights movements – including our own American Revolution. We will also explore how communities across the United States are defining Community Rights – and why we need Community Rights today, as evidenced by environmental catastrophes such as Love Canal.

We’ll have a static link to these papers from our Resources page.


Guest Speaker Event

How Do Corporations Legally Exploit Our Communities?

WHAT:  Learn how the corporate-dominated, state-assisted regulatory system works, what happens when we try to seek legal remedies, and what communities are doing to change the rules of the game for the sake of their health, safety and welfare.

Q&A to follow. Presentation by Kai Huschke of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.

FREE, $5 suggested donation, refreshments provided

WHEN: Wednesday, May 07 at 7 P.M.

WHERE:  Morningside United Methodist Church

3674 12th St. SE, Salem, Oregon 97302

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