In an effort to protect their precious water resources, the citizens of Shapleigh recently passed a rights-based ordinance that protects the local ecosystem by giving it the same rights as an individual. The new ordinance also grants communities the right to self-governance, and denies corporations the right to personhood. Essentially, the citizens are saying they will protect their resources better than outsiders.
Shapleigh and other communities in Maine are making these efforts to oppose the expansion of Nestlé, the multi-national food and beverage corporation trying to expand its water mining in Maine.
Activists accuse Nestlé of attempting to control Maines abundant supply of water, a move that would put the company in position to capitalize and profit if water were to become scarce.
If we could point to one man behind the recent surge of rights-based ordinances, it would be environmental lawyer Thomas Linzey. Linzey founded the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, and helped draft Ecuadors new constitution as well as other local American ordinances.
More and more, local communities are saying enough to corporate control and taking back their resources. The best news is that these are just the first few examples, and more are bound to come.
Image "Maine Stream" by topazz1963 on Flickr courtesy of Creative Commons.