To The Daily Sun,
Friends and neighbors have asked me why I am voting yes to Article 29, the Community Rights-Based Ordinance in Ashland. The reasons are many, but the simplest is that I’m tired.
I’m a resident, a taxpayer, and a mother raising children here and I’m just plain tired. I’m tired of watching large corporations use their size, power, and money to overrun local interests and destroy our environment. I’m tired of being told by state (and perhaps more sadly local leaders), that projects like Northern Pass are inevitable, beyond our control, and that we just need to suck it up and prepare for it. I’m tired of the “let’s make the most of it” argument or the argument for “let’s try to just mitigate the inevitable.” I’m tired of being told we have no say, no power, all while watching corporations claim massive rights and future lost profits and dodge responsibility for harm after harm.
Perhaps Northern Pass is falling victim to my fatigue, perhaps my lens isn’t 100 percent open to their claims of inevitable benefits of their project and articulated efforts to mitigate harm... but if this is the case, I’m not sorry. They are the straw that is breaking the camel's back for me and many in my generation. We’re done.
No, you cannot expect us to rejoice that you’re offering us free testing of our watershed and lagoons so that IF you cause harm we can prove it and attempt to receive a settlement. No. Just stay away from our watershed. Don’t dig there, don’t test there, don’t put towers there, just leave one of our most precious facilities and resources alone for us to manage as a community.
With respect to my fellow community members that argue that a community rights-based ordinance goes too far, I say, no, its corporate rights that have extended too far and it’s time for us to begin the process of curtailing them. With respect to my fellow community members who argue a community rights-based ordinance is risky or invites a lawsuit, I say, I’m tired of being bullied and feared in to compromise or flat-out forced in to decisions from forces beyond our control. I remind them that having a rights-based ordinance in place WHEN Northern Pass adjusts its proposal and requests reconsideration is a potentially valuable tool, one that we together can choose to enforce or not. We can assess if the danger of trying to implement it feels riskier or costlier than the risk of allowing towers across our land.
I see it as akin to going in to battle armed. We don’t leave the tanks at the base in hopes we don’t get shelled.
With respect to my fellow community members who argue a community rights-based ordinance makes them fearful of how individuals in the community would make use of the ordinance, I encourage them to read it in its entirety and recall that it does not take away any existing rights. Further, I assert that I’d much rather work together as a small community to address and protect each other’s interests and assure individual fears are alleviated than to be the victim of external forces dictating what happens in our community.
With respect to my fellow community members who argue we should wait to see if the Community Rights Amendment (CACR19) passes and lends legal credibility to such ordinances first, I invite them to share with me when in our history they’ve experienced the law leading the change?
As disenfranchised and powerless as we feel, we must always remember that the laws are our creation, and that every amendment to every law has begun with a person, a people, a community asserting that the law as it stands should be challenged. We assert our sincere will and the legislators and law follow that will. So, I will be voting YES to Article 29, and I hope to find among my neighbors others who are tired and ready to claim what has always been ours.
K. Hridaya Sivalingam, PhD