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writing for godot

An Open Letter to Greta Thunberg

Written by CommunityRightsUS   
Tuesday, 05 November 2019 15:55

An open letter to Greta Thunberg


Dear Greta,

The world owes you a huge debt of gratitude for your unbelievable courage and fearlessness in confronting the world's elected leaders who are too spineless to respond boldly to the latest scientific findings about the catastrophic climate emergency that we already face.


Your meteoric rise as a young global voice has shocked the world in a way that no grown up voice could have, which is exactly what was needed at this terrifying moment living on Mother Earth. Of course there is "No Plan(et) B" as the rally signs state. The entire world will have to act with dizzying speed to have any chance at all of saving our species and the rest of the natural world. But as you already know, our federal, state, and provincial leaders are not acting with the boldness and urgency that is required. Not even close.


Which is why we here at Community Rights US have written this Open Letter to you, because we fear that the various advocacy groups leading the charge to protect our shared climate are utilizing strategies and tactics that are almost guaranteed to fail, including the group that has risen around you - the Sunrise Movement, plus 350, and Citizens' Climate Lobby, and Climate Action Network, and Sierra Club, and many others.


Why will the climate movement's current strategies and tactics likely fail? For two reasons:


1) Because in response to continuing inaction by our so-called "elected leaders", the climate movement continues to see the goal as convincing (or forcing or cajoling or pleading with) those same "elected leaders" as the only way to respond to this climate crisis. A continuing lack of bold action from these "leaders" just generates more demand for bold action from these "leaders". You've probably heard about the definition of insanity: "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." This is primarily what all of these climate action groups are doing.


2) Climate action groups have virtually no understanding of the structures of law (at least here in the US) that protect the interests and actions of the fossil fuel industry and the automobile industry and big ag and the chemical industry and the logging industry (etc etc). These legal structures make it virtually impossible for citizens' organizations to achieve the necessary change within the existing political and legal systems. Not to mention that most of these groups depend on corporate and other foundation money for their very survival, so that further neuters their political effectiveness.


What is the solution?


Beginning to see ourselves - We The People of each nation state - as the primary decision-makers. And at least here in the US, our Constitution confirms this power and authority. We The People are The Sovereign - with the authority to govern ourselves. Government is REQUIRED TO SERVE US, with various duties and responsibilities. And when government fails in those duties, "consent of the governed" no longer exists, and thus our government can no longer claim to be legitimate. Is this not exactly what is unfolding in most countries around the world?


The Community Rights movement knows how to build political power, and this process simply CANNOT start at the federal or provincial or state level, which unfortunately is exactly where the Sunrise Movement and those other groups continue to focus their time and attention. The building of political power HAS to begin where people live - in specific towns and cities and counties. Look at any historical moment of significant social change in the US or anywhere else - it always starts somewhere. In a specific local place. You first build political power IN THAT PLACE, and then you push that power upwards towards larger scales of society.


The Community Rights movement is the most well suited movement in the US today to assist your efforts, as we can teach each of your local Sunrise Movement chapters (in the US) how to run a local law-making campaign that would literally ban corporations and governments from continuing to harm the climate. Our movement has already helped more than 200 communities and counties in twelve states to ban a myriad of harmful corporate activities such as fracking, factory farms, high voltage power lines, water bottling and much more.


Imagine if you and your collaborators in the Sunrise Movement learned how to transform the Green New Deal's platform into locally enforceable Community Rights laws (ordinances) as a potent initial step towards larger societal change. Would that not generate much more hopefulness and enthusiasm among your youthful members than having to constantly feel defeated by do-nothing federal and regional politicians? Imagine teenagers and other young people becoming the backbone of local ballot initiative campaigns in major cities, passing locally enforceable laws that rapidly shift everyone's lives towards more truly sustainable and just communities.


The primary work here is culture shift. People seeing themselves as The Leaders we've all been waiting for, rather than continuing to hit our collective heads against the wall, trying in vain year after year to get our federal and regional elected "leaders" to do the right thing. Because, you see, once dozens and then hundreds of local Sunrise chapters succeed in getting visionary and transformative local laws passed within the next few years - then your movement and the other climate movements can take that newly created and unstoppable political power and build it upwards towards provincial and state and federal law-changing campaigns.


You were absolutely right when you told the world's so-called leaders, "How dare you!" That is exactly the message they need to hear. But Step Two is placing most of y/our organizing energy locally, where your groups actually have unstoppable political power. The more local the organizing effort, the more difficult it becomes for the corporate state to stop you because where each of us lives is a place where we can most effectively see through the corporate propaganda machine.


To learn more about the extraordinary diversity of new locally enforceable ordinances you could pass that would prohibit a variety of corporate climate-destroying activities, check out the nationally broadcast speech I gave some years ago, titled "We the People Standing Together to Protect Our Climate: Lessons From the Community Rights Movement". We at Community Rights US want to urge you to pay close attention to the Community Rights movement here in the US, and to contact us so that we can start offering powerful local organizing support to your many local chapters.


Last week in Montreal, you told a crowd of half a million people, "If the people in power won't take their responsibility, then we will. It should not be up to us, but somebody needs to do it." I think you already know that the "people in power" have already had their chance to "take their responsibility" and they utterly failed, so let's not simply keep waiting and marching.


Having carefully reviewed the Sunrise Movement's US website, I can already see that there is some understanding regarding the usefulness of local organizing. For example, your Green New Deal Pledge for elected leaders to sign includes their agreement to advance legislation "at the federal or local level". But even here, you're waiting for our so-called "leaders" to lead us, knowing full well that the vast majority of them ARE NOT LEADING and likely won't start anytime soon.


27 US states already allow towns, cities and counties to directly make new enforceable laws through the ballot box. Conventional attorneys will tell you that what laws can be passed at the local level are very limited, but our movement strongly disagrees and thus we do it anyway, and quite successfully, as ongoing acts of municipal civil disobedience. 200 communities have passed our Community Rights laws since 1999, with only about 5% of them having been legally challenged!


It's Situation Urgent. Let's work together to identify the cities and towns in those 27 states that have strong local Sunrise groups, and start there. Community Rights US is at your service.

Greta: We are all rooting for you! We are so excited by what you have already accomplished. We want to work with you. Please get in touch!

Paul Cienfuegos and all at Community Rights US

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