To the Editor:
We are writing in support of the recently proposed State Constitutional amendment CACR19. This amendment would secure N.H. citizens’ right to self-government, thereby guaranteeing local communities the authority to protect the health, safety, and welfare of individuals, communities, and ecosystems. While this right and authority is already supported in Articles 1, 2, 8, and 10 of our N.H. State Constitution’s Bill of Rights, it is not yet specifically recognized.
Such recognition has been a long time coming to strengthen and restore “We the People’s” right to self-determine the future of the communities we live in. This right has been all but suffocated by corrupt corporate privilege that has been woven into law and upheld by judicial precedents. Together with state preemption, this weakening of citizen rights at home has left us with no defense when corporate projects come to develop or to extract resources in our towns--much less when these projects contaminate where we work and live, often with toxic waste. We’ve seen this happen all across our state. We should be able to have a recognized right to local decision-making authority to determine whether or not we want these projects in our communities.
By empowering people with authority to use this self-determining voice, CACR19 would reinforce the viability of our civil rights by supporting our democratic right to cultivate communities founded in peace and civility in which no person or entity has free pass to violate the health, safety, or well-being of another person or of nature, and certainly not for profit. Each day that our government denies us full participation in determining this cultivation, we are discriminated against--blocked from accessing and engaging in our rightful democratic process to protect our basic and inalienable rights that are not limited to but which include our right to clean air, water, and healthy ecosystems.
These inalienable rights were the ideals that birthed this nation’s experiment in democracy. And what is democracy if it is not the civic employment of people’s inalienable right to have democratic authority over what happens in their communities? When we cannot protect ourselves through the self-government so integral to the principles of our Revolutionary ancestors, then we are not living in a democracy. We must not let this right to self-government go un-championed by a disengaged sense of civic duty, nor can we afford to lose it amidst the animosity found in our divided political aisles. Now is the time to unite both community and bi-partisanship solidarity and action to recognize our right to self-government.
Sharing these sentiments is Ellen Read, NH Representative of Rockingham District 17 and the proposer of CACR19: “I truly hope my colleagues join me in supporting the Community Rights Amendment because it means doing exactly what we came to Concord to do--protect the people and ecosystems of NH. This Amendment places the power back into the hands of the governed, the very thing our Revolutionary ancestors fought for.”
What the Revolutionaries of this country fought for was not something they could buy. It was the right to pursue a self-determined life of honesty and goodness. For our legislators to deny us an enlightened path to access this self-determination is for them to admit doubt in their constituents’ ability to reason over and to trust in the goodness that is in ourselves and in the ecosystems around us. CACR19 will secure our right to protect this goodness for a new future honoring people’s and nature’s natural right to sustainability.
The NH Community Rights Network (NHCRN) , of which we are board members, supports Representative Read’s call to amend the state constitution to recognize the right of local community self-government. NHCRN is a non-profit, grassroots organization that seeks to empower communities and elected officials with education and authority about our individual and collective right of local self-governance in order to secure and protect the inherent and unalienable rights of all inhabitants of New Hampshire to economic, social, and environmental justice. For more information about the NHCRN or the proposed constitutional amendment, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.nhcommunityrights.org.
Douglas Darrell of Center Barnstead
Monica Christofili of Newmarket