By Melissa Wuske
February 13, 2017
This emboldening book will equip movements to fight for community rights.
We the People: Stories from the Community Rights Movement in the United States, by Thomas Linzey and Anneke Campbell, presents the inspiring stories of everyday people and communities who stood up for their rights in the face of corporate and legal opposition.
Drawn from the work of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, each chapter presents a narrative case study of a particular community rights movement, each seeking to preserve the autonomy of groups of people and to protect the natural realm. Together, they form a picture of the struggles and victories that change agents face across the United States.
These stories are both aspirational and accessible for average people and communities. They show the high commitment needed to secure rights and fight legal battles, and yet they also demonstrate that, with the right strategy and persistence, those of modest means can triumph over the immense powers that oppose them.
The book is at once timeless and timely. With echoes of David versus Goliath, it embodies the cries for community rights and environmental protection voiced by prominent movements like the Standing Rock protests. In a time when corporations are more and more hungry for profits at the expense of communities, and when communities are increasingly voiceless in response, these stories of persistence and hope are incredibly vital.
Linzey, an attorney at CELDF, and Campbell, a writer and filmmaker focused on justice and the environment, lend their varied expertise to create a balanced look at accounts of social change from a narrative and legal perspective. The appendix shifts more fully toward the legal side of the issues, compiling a variety of laws and statues relevant to issues discussed in the book.
This balance of authorial expertise lends itself to legal minds who want to delve into activism, as well as to environmental activists who want to know how to scale the walls of legal restriction. For both groups, the narratives here paint a picture of what can be, allowing each to glean wisdom to apply to their own challenges.
We the People is an emboldening book that equips movements to fight for community rights.