Over the weekend I had the intriguing opportunity to take part in a Radical Democracy seminar. It was exciting, educational, and somewhat frightening - much like the experiences I usually find through Transition!
I would summarize the message of the seminar thusly:
CELDF typically deals with corporations trying to bring unwanted activities to communities, working to protect the citizens from the remote corporations. For example, many of their client communities are trying to prevent giant hog farms, garbage incinerators, and the like. At first glance it may not seem like this is really what we in Transition are dealing with. And yet, look to the oil drilling disasters, or the pipeline proposed to bring tar sands crude through Bellingham, or the logging and "development" in the Chuckanuts.
Let's go beyond that. The principle argument in this democracy movement is that We The People are the basis of power through our identity as humans; We give duties and responsibilities to government and corporations, but the rights are ours. Our movement - the Transition to a sustainable society - is very much democratic, based on a bottom-up effort to realize our vision for our community.
We of Transition can gain much strength from the lessons of this Radical Democracy movement. It provides us with a legal and moral foundation upon which to build our movement. And, it reframes the issues we are working on as issues not of environmentalism, but of democracy. That is why their democracy movement is most successful in, even born out of, conservative communities - these conservative communities that strip corporations of rights and give them to nature!
So often these days we are dealing with one issue at a time, and the debate becomes partisan. (For example, the effort to fund transit recently failed because agreement could not be made with largely conservative people out in the county.) By viewing our work through an active democracy lens we can partner with people who we don't yet think of as being on our side, and collectively take control of our destiny to achieve what we want - rather than just muddling toward what we think we can get.
Please take some time to learn about this effort and think about how it interacts with the work of Transition. Many of the best sources are free online (see links below), or at the Alternative Library, or from 100fires.com
If you are ready to work with All The People, even if that might not be comfortable at first, let me know. I am beginning an effort to explore possibilities for inter-citizen collaboration.
James Madison, architect of the US Constitution:
Some educational videos:
Ordinance examples developed by CELDF: