The “who, what, where, when, why how”

If you missed our launch events, you may have questions. Here’s a summary of what you missed, and several ways to get involved at the end of the post.

The Who of SAFEBOR

Why are we attempting this in Alachua County? Seven counties are in the Santa Fe River basin, and six counties actually border the river, but only two of those counties have county charters that can be amended and of those two, Alachua county has the most environmentally active voters, so it is a better choice to attempt passage.

Who benefits from this, and who is it harmful to? Obviously the people of Alachua County and the economy benefits through protection of our commons. This amendment would shift the power away from large business entities who are attempting to extract or pollute our commons, the Santa Fe River bioregion.

Who started this? The steering committee consists of Lu Merritt, Merrillee Jipson-Malwitz, David Moritz, and John Moran.

The What of SAFEBOR

What are the strengths and weaknesses of this approach? The strengths of this are that it approaches the issue of environmental justice from the perspective of Mother Nature rather than an anthropomorphic one. The biggest weakness is that we are still forced to work within the system, even though we are attempting to flip the legal narrative on its head.

“The debate around the rights of nature is one of the most active frontlines in the fight for a non-market-based point of view. It’s a reaction against our society’s commodification of everything.”

–Gudynas, Aug. 2019

Why this, why now? We have tried working within the legal box/framework of lobbying and advocacy, and it is not working because the corporations have too much power.

What is the best case and worst case outcome of this charter amendment? The best case scenario is that this passes and we enter a phase of legal challenges. The worst case scenario is that it doesn’t pass, yet we will still then have moved the narrative forward regarding our place in Nature rather than commodification.

The Where of SAFEBOR

Where else has giving rights to nature been used? Giving Nature rights has been used in many other countries, with Ecuador, Bolivia, and New Zealand at the forefront of the movement. Bangladesh just gave all of its rivers rights. A number of places in the US have too; most recently Toledo Ohio/Lake Erie. Currently there are at least 3 other regions in Florida currently attempting this—the Wekiva River, Caloosahatchee, and Kissimmee River groups.

Where can we get more information? Here at the website under Additional Reading, and @Facebook@Safebor

The When of SAFEBOR

What are the deadlines for gathering the petitions? If we gather enough petitions, when does the charter amendment get on the ballot in Alachua County? We need over 18,000 signed, valid petitions from Alachua County voters by Feb. 22, 2020 (6 months from now). Achieving that allows us to place the amendment request on the Nov. 2020 ballot in Alachua County for voters to decide on.

How will we know if we have succeeded or failed? We will know that we have succeeded if we move the narrative forward, whether this passes or not. Think of all the high-quality conversations that you will engage in regarding this topic as a petition gatherer! We will know we have failed if the narrative in this county does not move forward and citizens continue to allow entities to extract the life from our life support systems.

The Why of SAFEBOR

Why is this relevant to me? Because we want to leave something for our children and grandchildren.

Why has this been this way for so long? Our American society has grown and thrived under capitalism, but our system prioritizes wealth over well-being. That has to change if our life support systems (and us) are to survive.

The How of SAFEBOR

How does this play out/disrupt things? Nature has no money, she has no rights. While this amendment is not working completely outside the system, it shifts the power and the perspective on its head, so that Nature has legal rights. This charter amendment gives citizens the right to speak for the river in lawsuits, thus leveling the playing field between powerful organizations and the river and the people. So perhaps the first legal challenge if this passes might be something like speedboats on the river, or water withdrawal. The decision from that lawsuit then sets precedents for successive lawsuits, and that is how the law evolves.

So if you like what you are hearing, get involved! At the links above, you can submit a query at the About Us page. You can donate under the Take Action menu. You can talk about this issue with your friends, family, and community. We are going to need a lot of petitions signed–you can sign up to gather petitions at the menu above: Take Action/Volunteer for SAFEBOR. Thank you!

“Come on in, the water’s fine!”

–the santa fe river bioregion’s 6 word story