We have the power
Despite this reality, Cienfuegos offered inspiring examples of communities that have passed “historically ground-breaking local ordinances that give the people of those places… the right to decide and then to create the kind of community they want” to live in. Instead of fighting against what we don’t want in our communities and dealing with massive bureaucracies, only to be disappointed in the end, Cienfuegos suggests that we work to pass local laws that “guarantee the right to defend the safety of [our] drinking water… guarantee the right to keep [our] air and [our] soil free from poisons… the right to a sustainable future with sufficient renewable energy for all.” One hundred and twenty communities in six Northeastern states have succeeded in protecting their homes from factory farms, mining, logging, fossil fuel extraction, etc. He calls it “rights-based organizing regarding environmental issues.”
Such organizing is underway locally where citizens are successfully rewriting zoning laws and creating new political parties. These efforts may well be our best hope.
The transcript of Cienfuegos’ speech can be downloaded at alternativeradio.org for $3 or as an MP3 for $1.