David Shannon Who decidesThroughout Global Exchange’s history, we’ve been proud to launch new collaborations, networks, organizations and movements. To support farmers growing Fair Trade coffee, tea, chocolate and other products we love, we launched the independent, Fair Trade certification, Transfair (now Fairtrade USA); to respond in a coordinated and powerful way to the Iraq War, we co-founded both United for Peace and Justice and CODEPINK; to show that the Green Economy was already working, we co-founded Green Festivals and to unite communities suffering dirty oil oil extraction around the worlds, we brought together The True Cost of Chevron Network.

MovementRigts-Colour-sq-ncEach of these entities (and a few more!) grew out of Global Exchange’s offices at 16th an Mission in San Francisco, and it’s in that spirit that we’re pleased to support the creation of Movement Rights from our Community Rights Program. Since 2008, our Community Rights Program has been directed by Shannon Biggs, who is now leading and taking the global Rights of Nature and rights based organizing work to new levels. On November 20, she launched Movement Rights, co-founded with indigenous activist and ally, Pennie Opal Plant.

The beautiful website (still under some construction!) states:

Shifting culture and law to truly protect people is the civil rights struggle of our time and it’s already happening in communities across the nation. Changing the rules will require more than tinkering at the margins of the current legal, political and corporate-led economic system; it will require a system change from the grassroots. It all begins with neighbors coming together to change their community. Movement Rights provides organizing and legal support for communities to assert their right to local self governance with our partners; leadership and international movement building for the rights of nature; and connects Indigenous leadership, wisdom and analysis toward living in balance with natural systems.

While at Global Exchange and with vital collaboration from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, the Community Rights Program, and Shannon, covered many areas (water rights, pesticides, fracking)and much distance.

RIGHTS OF NATURE: From participating at the World People’s photo[8]Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia, inside and outside COP meetings in Mexico and South Africa (and Peru with Movement Rights), the Rio+20 conference in Brazil, speaking at the first United National event addressing people’s connection with Nature, leading a Rights of Nature Reality Tour in India, with Dr. Vandana Shiva, strategizing and providing support to activists in Ecuador (where we co-founded the Global Alliance on the Rights of Nature!) and convening 32 global social movement leaders including Indigenous leaders, deep ecologists, grassroots justice advocates, economists, climate experts, localization activists, globalization thinkers, writers and researchers at the Rights of Nature and the Economics of the Biosphere Summit. From this Summit, the Bay Area Rights of Nature Alliance also emerged!

The Program also produced a wealth of Rights of Nature publications, most available for download:

Does Nature Have Rights: Transforming Grassroots Organizing to Protect the People and the Planet, December 2010
Rights of Nature: Making a Case for the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, March 2011
Rights of Nature: Planting Seeds of Real Change, June 2012
The Stillheart Declaration, October 2013

RIGHTS BASED ORGANIZING: Focusing on California, the Community Rights Program, answered hundreds of calls from communities at risk, to provide guidance and direction and take action to re-write laws to protect against corporate power. Over the years, Shannon and stellar program assistant Kylie Nealis, hosted Democracy Schools and worked closely on campaigns in Mt. Shasta, Santa Monica, Nevada City, San Luis Obsipo and Culver City, with a side trip to Occupy Wall Street!

mail_image_previewIn the last 18 months, the Program focused on fracking, and toured the state to work with  communities to ban the dirty practice and spending most effort in Mendocino County. After an incredible year or collaboration with the Community Rights Network of Mendocino County (CRNMC), Measure S was passed this November by the voters of Mendocino County – making history as the first California community to adopt a Community Bill of Rights, placing their rights above corporate interests.

After years of this success, Global Exchange is proud to see this work transition to Movement Rights. With Shannon’s dedication and passion for working with communities and empowering change, this work will continue to build and grow a real movement for real democracy.

Visit the Movement Rights website and send an email to movement@movementrights.org to receive Movement Rights’ newsletter!