Our founding: Citizens for Rights of the Ohio River Watershed (CROW) is a group of community-minded citizens who came together in Cincinnati, Ohio in the summer of 2020 to attend a Democracy School facilitated by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF).
Democracy School: During the month-long Democracy School the group studied the foundations of democracy in the United States, how it developed, who sought to benefit, and how that founding has led us to where we are today, that is, where corporations are given rights as people, nature continues to be polluted anew, and the environment is viewed as a resource to be exploited for economic gain with little regard for human and environmental health. Time and time again we learned that corporations, supported at our country’s founding and championed by some politicians, are permitted to pollute through regulations and regulatory agencies that do not serve to protect the world around us in the ways we think they do. By eroding democratic community rights little by little, corporations, through political actors, remove citizen’s rights to make decisions about their community leading to a loss of environmental protection.
A Historical, Contemporary, and Worldwide Movement: An alternative perspective, one practiced and fostered by Indigenous communities for thousands of years, views nature as our great family, as integral as mother, father, aunts, uncles, cousins, children, and as a teacher who inspires a sustainable way of living. Cutting edge science of the 20th Century affirms that we are an intimate part of the non-human natural world, that it’s all connected, alive, and evolving. From these understandings, the Rights of Nature movement has grown around the world. It requires that we consider nature as a part of our family in all decision making and that if we cause harm to nature, we harm ourselves, our community, and our family.
CROW’s Vision: Those of us working with CROW view the Rights of Nature as the antidote, the change agent, providing a livable future for our watershed and all its inhabitants. We see it as a movement-maker against the business as usual permitting and litigious cycle that leaves our communities without a voice and bearing the scars of economic priorities.
We are working toward the day when Nature’s Rights, protected through a Bill of Rights for the Ohio River Watershed, are considered a number one priority in decision making.