Community Earth Alliance – What We Believe
We are Earth, and Learning to Live in Community Can Help Us Remember
We need to see ourselves as part of this amazing Earth, not as the owners and users of the Earth. Community Earth Alliance hopes to help people learn to fall in love with the Earth, which is really no different than falling in love with ourselves, because all of us are Earth. We, CEA, have focused a lot of our energy on housing, the place where we live, but we also strive to see every part of our lives as a celebration of interacting with our fellow Earthlings. How do we, with every action we take, enhance the Earth, and thus enhance ourselves? This is what we need to learn to do in a culture that believes we can own the Earth as if it is separate from ourselves. I am Earth and all the plants and animals, rocks and water, are all part of me and I am part of them. As Thomas Berry says, “We are the Earth, conscious of itself.” We can truly celebrate our deep connection. We really are ONE.
This is what Community Earth Alliance hopes to share. It is seeing ourselves in this community of humans, but also of all species that will help us become aware of our oneness.
We especially do this through assisting the Hilltop Eco Community become a model of living sustainable in an urban setting. This is critical now with over half of our species living in cities.
We are also doing this through our awareness that all species are part of our community, so helping people recognize the rights of the natural world is also our focus.
–Jim Schenk, Community Earth Alliance Director
Hilltop Eco Community
The Hilltop Eco Community has a specific focus, the city. More than half of people now live in cities. To be sustainable, we first need to stay clustered in these cities or we will spread out and destroy land that is needed for agriculture, for other species, and for beauty and awe. There are many ecovillages worldwide, but most of them were built from the ground up, and in rural areas. While these are extremely valuable, our focus is to develop an ecovillage in the city. We are not starting from the ground up, but we are working to convert a typical, existing city neighborhood to a livable, ecologically centered place. To be sustainable, we need to use the present structures and layout of existing neighborhoods in our cities. Ecologically, we cannot afford to build everything new from virgin resources. In truth, our existing cities and neighborhoods can become wonderful, sustainable places to live. This is part of a new story.
A large percentage of Homo Sapiens have evolved over thousands of years to believe that the Earth is here for our species, that we are superior to all other species and no other species have rights. With this attitude we have been able to significantly increase our population. However, in the process we have plundered and destroyed many species and are harming many of Earth’s capacities to support our own species. It is not being done out of hate and hostility, but out of a story that worked for humans that is no longer working and could lead to our own destruction.
We are at a time in history when we need to develop a new story about Earth. The new story needs to understand our total interdependence on Earth. It needs to reflect on the amazement of Earth and the honor we have been given to be the Earth conscious of itself. This story needs to underlie all the decisions we make. We will do this not out of guilt or fear, but out of our stunned amazement at the wonder of Earth. We need to develop the new story very quickly. The Urban Ecovillage is part of this new story.
Rights of Nature Movement
The Rights of Nature movement is the first movement I’ve found in 40 years that places nature in its rightful place – seeing us as part of the Earth – while also gaining a foothold across the planet. To this end, we have begun a Rights of the Ohio River group. Our goal is to get legal entities like cities and states along the Ohio River to recognize the rights of the Ohio River. In recognizing these rights, they accept that the Ohio River has personhood status. This gives the river the possibility within our legal system to demand that the legal entities, corporations, and individuals have the responsibility to treat the Ohio River with respect. It gives the Ohio River the right to sue if this doesn’t happen. We have given corporations this type of rights and they don’t even truly exist, while the living, breathing Earth around us is deprived of its rights even being recognized.
About Citizens for Rights of the Ohio River Watershed (CROW):
CROW is working to legalize the rights of the Ohio River Watershed. In our current system of law, natural resources such as rivers, mountains, flora, and fauna, have no legal standing. While Native peoples recognize our interconnection with all life systems, our current U.S. legal system does not. Legalized as property, our life-supporting ecosystems are increasingly abused and exploited for profit; and we risk destroying the Earth’s capacity to sustain us. Growing industrial pressure on governments weakens regulatory protections, and corporations are steadily usurping the rights of local communities to defend their natural ecosystems. Consequently, the communities that dwell along our Ohio River have witnessed the source of their drinking water turn into the most polluted river in the country. This documentary emboldens local communities like ours to give voice to ecosystems that are increasingly sickened by the drilling, tunneling, extraction, and poisoning. We, the Citizens for Rights of the Ohio River Watershed, recognize and affirm the rights and responsibilities of communities to protect our own health and safety and the inherent rights of the Ohio River Watershed to thrive, regenerate, and flourish.
CELDF (Community Environmental Legal Defense Foundation) has created a “Democracy School” to help people understand the problems with our present system to protect the Earth community.
Democracy School is a stimulating and illuminating virtual course that teaches and activates an empowering new approach about how to re-frame exhausting and often discouraging single-issue work – such as opposing fracking, over-development, and pesticides, or advocating for worker rights, housing access, and protecting water – in a way that we can confront corporate control and government interference on a powerful front: the people’s right of local self-governance and Nature’s rights.
Democracy School is open to anyone – but we recommend finding a school hosted within your community to create meaningful dialogue and networking around the issues that are most important to you and your community.
Watch Democracy School at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0laVpNhMY90