To the editor,
In 2006 Barnstead Selectman Jack O’Neil proclaimed support for a rights-based ordinance protecting Barnstead’s water resources stating, “…we pledge to walk point for you…”. It’s doubtful that at the time he imagined New Hampshire residents would today be walking point for the nation in the struggle for community rights and the rights of nature.
Since then towns across New Hampshire have been initiating and passing rights-based ordinances in the face of corporate assaults on local economies, rights, and natural environments. In 2015, a holocaust survivor living in Barnstead recognized the fomenting climate of religious intolerance during the presidential primary and initiated a rights-based ordinance guaranteeing freedom from religious identification. It passed unanimously at town meeting.
In a time when state and federal lawmakers fail to act on pressing social, environmental, and economic issues and corporate entities are rushing to enact legislation pre-empting communities from addressing these, it is more important than ever to seize the opportunity to affirm the rights of people to self-govern in their communities.
New Hampshire representative Ellen Read has reintroduced the Community Rights Amendment, CACR 8, an amendment which codifies the rights of people in New Hampshire to make governing decisions about policies and endeavors that impact the well-being of residents and the natural environment. Having garnered one third of the legislature’s support in the past session, New Hampshire is leading the nation in the fight against legalized destruction of our planet and the stripping away of our individual right to self-govern.
Those involved in the early work of local democracy are grateful for the efforts of many residents, but especially those of longtime Barnstead Selectman Gordon Preston, Katherine Preston, the late Jack O’Neil, and the late Gail Darrell, founder of NH Community Rights Network and tireless advocate for a sustainable, peaceful world. The many people who carry on this work across New Hampshire ask for your support of CACR 8, the NH Community Rights Amendment to the NH constitution.
Diane St. Germain
NHCRN Board Member