The Stillheart Declaration (2013)

As humanity fast-tracks towards the collapse of our planetary systems, we sought to articulate a shared vision toward a new economy based on living in balance with natural systems; where the rights of humans do not extend to the domination of nature. We questioned the viability of a global economy whose jurisprudence places property rights above all; recognizes corporate rights as the most sacred of property rights; subordinates human rights and the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples to corporate rights; and where Nature is not recognized as having any intrinsic rights at all. We discussed the power and possibility of an emerging body of law—recognizing legal rights for ecosystems to exist, flourish and regenerate their vital cycles—as a necessary part of placing our human laws in alignment with Nature’s laws, and our human actions and economy in an appropriate relationship with the natural order of which we are part.

The entire Declaration can be read here. Necessary elements of an economic system consistent with the Rights of Nature include the following:

  • Immediately reducing production and consumption levels to within the carrying capacities of the planet, and the equitable redistribution of available resources/wealth;
  • The full restoration of ecosystems, primarily allowing nature to heal itself;
  • The relocalization of primary production, distribution and use; the abandonment of economic globalization models as inherently wasteful and inequitable;
  • Full recognition of non-monetized labor;
  • Governance through ecologically informed, democratic, participatory, engaged and empowered decision-making at all scales;
  • Elimination of economic systems and strategies that prioritize economic growth, and profit, and private acquisition of resources and wealth, above all other values;
  • The elimination of substances that are toxic, persistent, and bioaccumulative;
  • Zero waste systems for production, use, and decomposition known as cradle-to-cradle living;
  • Recognition of sacred relationships with place;
  • In all economic decisions and human activities, the wellbeing of Nature is primary.

All must speak out for the needs of nature and our Mother Earth as a whole. It is our responsibility to live within the natural order that is sacred to all life on earth. We must redraw the boundaries of the economy to bring them into line with ecological limits and the common sense science of planetary boundaries. Nature’s needs are also our own and must be elevated and protected by legal rights, and maintained through life-sustaining systems of exchange and reciprocity.

Editorial: Don’t stop with SAFEBOR to protect Santa Fe (via Gainesville Sun)

In a new editorial today by the Gainesville Sun Editorial Board, they summarize the current efforts to rebalance the power between corporations and the people’s commons:

If corporations are now being treated like people under the law, why not rivers?
Alachua County voters might be asking themselves that question when they head to the polls next fall. Environmental advocates are seeking to put an initiative called the Santa Fe River Bill of Rights, aka SAFEBOR, on the November 2020 ballot. . . .

. . . If voters want to reverse the damage being done to the Santa Fe and other parts of our environment, they shouldn’t stop with SAFEBOR. Voters must start treating every election like a referendum on the environment, choosing local, state and federal candidates accordingly.

Gainesville Sun Editorial Board, September 8, 2019

You can read the rest of the editorial here.

Legal system isn’t set up to protect environment (via Gainesville Sun)

Check out this new Gainesville Sun article by Lucinda Faulkner Merritt, who writes:

Our laws have historically been written and interpreted to give precedence to business and commerce, to private property rights, to the idea of legal “standing,” and to the ability of state and federal laws to preempt local laws.

In particular, the legal concept of “standing” makes it almost impossible to argue for the restoration, protection and preservation of whole ecosystems (such as the Santa Fe River) unless you own all the land where those ecosystems exist. That’s because those ecosystems have no inherent rights of their own, hence no legal “standing.”

Lu Merritt, Sept. 2, 2019, Gainesville Sun

Lu Merritt goes on to raise some excellent questions regarding what our legal system can and cannot do in protecting our local commons, and suggests some next steps in where we should go from here. You can find the article at the Gainesville Sun.