NHCRN Quarterly Update
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NHCRN Quarterly Update

A Publication of the New Hampshire Community Rights Network
Educating and empowering communities and elected officials about our individual and collective right of local self-governance in order to secure and protect the inherent and unalienable rights of all inhabitants of New Hampshire to economic, social and environmental justice, including the rights of nature.

Volume 3 / Issue 2
March 2017

It's a Democracy Problem - Simple as That!

With all the legislative reform that is proposed year after year, one might think we are a society that is perfecting democracy. That couldn't be further from the truth.

In New Hampshire alone, there were over forty voter suppression bills proposed. Most of them aimed at making voter registration more difficult, restricting authority of local election officials, and increasing authority of state election officials to penalize those who don't comply with voting laws.

It doesn't seem to matter that the New Hampshire Constitution is clear about who is the origin of government, that natural and inherent rights are supreme over other laws, or that elected officials are at all times accountable to the people. There is utter and complete disregard for local democracy. The question is, what are you going to do about it?

Water protectors, fossil fuel alarmists, energy efficiency advocates, food protectors, health care champions, LGBTQ supporters, election integrity activists, and more, are all facing the same underlying issue - we have a democracy problem. The focus has been on water, fossil fuels, energy, health care, civil rights, or elections. Don't get me wrong, these issues need our attention, but not the kind of single-issue attention they are getting.

The kind of attention focused on these issues has more to do with begging and pleading with the powers-that-be to right their wrongs. That won't get to the root of the problem. It may create a swing in the right direction, but it doesn't have holding power. Legalizing local democracy creates holding power.

Corporations and governments would rather keep us running around like beheaded poultry from issue to issue, when the simple and effective approach is singular. The underlying root of every issue facing the people of New Hampshire and this nation, is that we have a democracy problem. 

You, the folks living in your town, are the experts. You know best when it comes to protecting the health, safety and welfare of your community. As a collective body, you know what is most effective is protecting the rights of both human and natural communities.

Presently, governmental and corporate interests create and use law to override the will of residents, often with devastating effects on the local culture, economy, ecosystems, and social relationships. We do not need more laws created by those seeking to exploit our communities, we need to recognize our right to local self-governance and act on it. We must, in order to secure and protect the inherent and unalienable rights of all inhabitants of New Hampshire to economic, social and environmental justice.

If we ever hope to truly address the many assaults human and natural communities face, we must reclaim our right to govern our communities democratically, free from oppressive state and corporate interference. The issue is not about fixing the government we have, it is about imagining a new government and what that would look like. Are you ready?

NH Community Rights Network (NHCRN) is welcoming communities to take advantage of the Community Rights Awareness Campaign to educate and empower residents and elected officials about the right to local community self-government. The NH Community Rights Campaign focuses on local community self-government, which is essential to achieving economic, social and environmental sustainability in communities across the state. 

Join, Like & Share NHCRN on Facebook!

NHCRN Community Rights Awareness Campaign

Help Protect the Rights of People and Nature!
The people and ecosystems of New Hampshire face unsustainable projects such as the proposed Northern Pass industrial hydro-energy project, fracked gas pipeline infrastructure, corporate water withdrawals, sludging of toxic human waste on farmland, and ridgeline industrial wind. Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) has assisted communities across New Hampshire to prohibit such harmful projects that violate the rights of human and natural communities, through local Rights-based Ordinances establishing Community Bills of Rights laws, which assert the right to democratic, community self-government - including the right to protect clean air and water.

Education empowers, and NHCRN is committed to grassroots education for residents and their elected officials. The 
NHCRN Community Rights Awareness Campaign focuses on local community self-government, which is essential to achieving economic, social and environmental sustainability in communities across the state. The campaign will assist in helping protect the rights of all residents, their communities, and nature from harmful corporate activities.

NHCRN's Community Rights Awareness Campaign includes:
The NHCRN Community Rights Awareness Campaign will help lay the groundwork to secure Community Rights throughout the state of New Hampshire. Adding Article 40. Right of Local Community Self-Government to the New Hampshire Constitution's Bill of Rights will recognize and protect those rights.

You can help, please
 donate today!
SAVE THESE DATES - Upcoming Community Rights Events

We've got some great events coming up that you won't want to miss!
We've got all the details laid out for you. Check them out below!


What's Happening?
​The Documentary “Great Bay: An Estuary in Peril” premieres March 30th at 6:30 at the Oyster River High School Auditorium. The environmental, recreational, scenic and commercial benefits of the Bay and the Piscataqua waterways are in jeopardy. Great Bay has significant tangible value and is critical to the local economy, human activity, and wildlife subsistence. The film addresses the issues surrounding it’s decline and how the years have taken their toll on the Bay and how these potential threats could push the fragile ecosystem to a tipping point beyond which it may not recover. Following the film, join in a panel discussion with a UNH bay scientist, an energy specialist, and community leaders.

Details at:

The Great Bay Estuary is regional and national treasure that belongs to us all and is one of only 28 estuaries of national significance in the US. Many residents in the estuaries 52 town wide watershed are unaware of the challenges facing Great Bay and how they contribute to the health of the bay and how they can protect it for future generations. The bay needs a voice and an informed community is one that plays an active role in protecting its resources, health and survival.

Michelle Sanborn of the NH Community Rights Network (NHCRN) and Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) is one of the panelists, invited to discuss a "CALL TO ACTION" to protect the health, safety and welfare of both human and natural communities in the face of the Seacoast Reliability Project threatening the region.

Who is CELDF? 
Today, through grassroots organizing, public education and outreach, and legal assistance, nearly 200 municipalities across the U.S. have enacted CELDF-drafted Community Rights laws which ban practices – including fracking, factory farming, sewage sludging of farmland, and water privatization – that violate the rights of people, communities and nature.

To protect those rights, the laws address the key barriers to local self-governance and sustainability – such as corporate constitutional “rights” – and has assisted the first communities in the U.S. to eliminate corporate “rights” when they interfere with Community Rights.

Further, CELDF has worked with the first U.S. communities and the first country to establish the rights of nature in law – recognizing the rights of ecosystems and natural communities to exist and thrive, and empowering people and their governments to defend and enforce these rights.

Join Us!
Learn more – contact NHCRN:, like us on Facebook!


The NH March for Voting Rights is a non-partisan event in solidarity with everyone's right to vote. This is an inclusive day of action and unity.

What's Happening?
NH Community Rights Network will be participating with a table in the City Plaza in front of the State House! Stop by and learn how you can protect voting rights at the local level. NHCRN's goal in participating in this event is to educate participants about our right to govern elections at the local level and to join this large scale mobilization designed to raise awareness and promote action to preserve our unique same day voter registration system and to stop policing of voters as proposed in various legislation proposed during the current session.

You can participate in a 1.2 mile march through downtown from Concord High School to the steps of the NH State House. We will convene with hundreds of concerned citizens and numerous advocacy organizations dedicated to our democracy at the State House. The speaking program will feature elected leaders, students, veterans and affected voters. Speed activist workshops will follow the rally and provide multiple direct actions for impact on voting rights.

Sponsored by: NH Rebellion/Open Democracy, America Votes, Granite State Progress and the League of Women Voters. Many other organizations are participating and will have booths in the City Plaza.

Join Us!
Learn more – contact NHCRN:, like us on Facebook!


​Are you concerned about protecting your community and environment? Is your neighborhood or town being threatened by exploitative industries?

​What's Happening?
Community Rights activists of Barnstead welcome you to join them in viewing We The People 2.0 - The Second American Revolution. A film featuring the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), tells the story of people across the U.S. who have faced decades of environmental assaults – such as fracking and sludging of farmland – and what they are doing about it. These communities, like a growing number of communities in New Hampshire, recognize ecosystems at home and around the globe are collapsing under inherently unsustainable laws and governing structures – what many have called a “corporate state”.

The Community Rights Movement in the Granite State began in Barnstead, with the nearly unanimous adoption of a rights-based community ordinance in 2006, to protect the “Right to Water” by banning commercial water mining. The Movement has spread to other communities across the state seeking to legalize democratic local self-governance in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of both human and natural communities. Barnstead residents picked up the Community Rights torch again in 2016 by enacting the first-in-the-nation "Freedom From Religious ID Requirement" Community Bill of Rights.

Film Showing followed by a discussion with updates on efforts to secure community and environmental rights at the local and state levels in NH and nationwide.

As part of NH Community Rights Network (NHCRN) Community Rights Awareness Campaign, we are co-hosting this event. 

Join Us!
Learn more – contact NHCRN:, like us on Facebook!


How do you know your vote counts? The answer is both surprising and disturbing. Filmmaker Jason Grant Smith provides an in-depth examination of American election integrity. While democracy does not begin with elections, it can end when we fail to defend them.

What's Happening?
The documentary, I Voted? is not only informative, but also entertains us with a fine sense of humor! Join us and long-standing election integrity activists at the Keene Public Library on Thursday, April 13th for a 6:30pm showing. As part of NH Community Rights Network (NHCRN) Community Rights Awareness Campaign, we are co-sponsoring this event. 

We urge you to register for this event, free, at Eventbrite: There is limited seating in the Library’s auditorium. If there is an overflow, we will give preference to those who pre-registered. For additional information or questions, please contact

With over forty-plus voter restriction bills proposed during the 2017 NH Legislative session, it is clear that voting rights are under attack. It is important to understand the difference between voter fraud and election fraud. We have evidence that voter fraud is virtually non-existent in the Granite State, yet state election officials have hindered local efforts to verify the computer’s vote count - thereby preventing discovery of potential intentional or unintentional computer error. With almost 90% of Granite State municipalities using vote-counting computers programmed with secret proprietary software, it is clear verification is essential. 

It is not enough that we have the right to vote when corporations and governments are able to influence not only HOW we vote and determine WHAT we vote for, but even WHETHER we can vote.

View Trailer at:

Join Us!
Learn more – contact NHCRN:, like us on Facebook!

Stay Connected - Join NHCRN on Facebook!

The story begins over ten years ago, when USA Springs, LLC targeted the towns of Nottingham and Barrington, NH, to site their water withdrawal and bottling plant. After years obtaining environmental studies, fighting permit applications, and spending over $400,000 in town legal fees to fight the legalization of corporate water theft, residents decided to take a different approach.

Nottingham residents worked with CELDF to draft the Nottingham Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance, which they adopted at their 2008 annual Town Meeting. Their rights-based ordinance declares, “all residents of the Town of Nottingham possess a fundamental and inalienable right to access, use, consume, and preserve water drawn from the sustainable natural water cycles that provide water necessary to sustain life within the Town.”

The ordinance also eliminates corporate constitutional “rights” and prohibits those “rights” from being used to override the rights of human and natural communities. In order to protect enumerated rights within their local law, the extraction of water, and the buying and/or selling of water extracted within the Town of Nottingham, is prohibited. USA Springs, LLC filed for bankruptcy the same year.

For over eight years, Nottingham residents have notified every potential investor of the USA Springs property of their Water Rights Ordinance and their intent to enforce it should it be violated. This seemed enough to deter investors. However, Nottingham residents recognize they must continue to protect their water. The prospect of corporations intent on exploiting their community as a resource colony for profit is not gone.

Barrington residents followed the path of Nottingham after years of working with CELDF, and diligently educating, organizing, and petitioning. In 2016, they passed a local rights-based ordinance protecting their water rights and prohibiting corporate resource extractions – including but not limited to water, minerals, gravel, and sand. Nottingham’s Community Bill of Rights prohibits activities and projects that would violate the local Bill of Rights, and provides for enforcement of the bill of rights against corporations engaged in those activities.

They’re back!

Late last year, investors petitioned the bankruptcy court with a bid to purchase the USA Springs property and assets. Those assets include buildings and expired permits to withdraw water from the towns of Nottingham and Barrington.

As a united front, water protectors from both communities are sharing their story with others. They are educating the broader community and determining their next steps. This includes learning about what other communities have done through screenings of We the People 2.0.  This film shares stories about communities across the country that are using CELDF’s Community Rights organizing strategy to elevate the rights of people and nature above the “rights” of corporations. They are also working together to host a Democracy School in October to educate residents about confronting corporate control over their constitutional rights.

“You don’t lose until you quit!” has been a reminder to Nottingham and Barrington residents to keep on keeping on. After all, it’s water they are protecting. Essential for all of nature and humanity, access to local and uncontaminated water determines the survival of people and nature.

Rights of Nature Solidarity Call - At a time of unprecedented species extinction, ecosystem collapse, and climate change, a global movement is growing to advance fundamental change in the relationship between humankind and the natural world — by eliminating the key barriers to environmental protection and sustainability (including corporate “rights” and powers), and placing the highest legal protections on nature through the recognition of rights.

This call provides a practical examination of the Rights of Nature — what it is; why and how it is advancing in U.S. communities and around the world; and strategies for advancing it at the grassroots.
A sense of humor... is needed armor. Joy in one's heart and some laughter on one's lips is a sign that the person down deep has a pretty good grasp of life. Hugh Sidey

Spokane Arrestees Sue U.S. Government: Seek to Overturn Federal Preemption of Local Health and Safety Laws Concerning Coal and Oil Trains
CELDF working in India to Recognize Rights of the Ganga River Basin: India Court Declares Personhood for Ganga and Yumana Rivers: 
The Colorado Independent: Lafayette Climate Bill of Rights draws passionate support from mothers, children
More than a dozen mothers, many with children in tow, took to the podium in front of Lafayette’s City Council Tuesday night to advocate for the city’s proposed Climate Bill of Rights and Protections. Residents have attended Lafayette City Council meetings in droves for more than a month now to speak on behalf of the measure, which seeks to make the right to a healthy climate part of city statute. If citizens feel the city is not protecting this right — in other words, if it allows oil and gas development — the measure would protect their right to civil disobedience in defense of the environment.
Counterpunch: Get The Frack Out of Pennsylvania
Rural Pennsylvania doesn't fascinate the world, not generally. But cyclically, periodically, its innards are of interest. Bore it, strip it, set it on fire. A burnt offering to the collective need.
Corporate State Attempts to Choke Off Citizens’ Initiatives On December 8th, wrapped in a bill addressing foreclosures, HB 463 was adopted by legislators who see citizen initiated legislation as a threat to the interests of their corporate masters rather than as the will of the people they are duty-bound to serve. The state senate quietly and secretly added language unrelated to the subject of the foreclosure bill. The clause granted Boards of Elections and the Ohio Secretary of State the authority to block citizens’ initiatives at the local level based on their opinion of the content.
Coos and Columbia Counties exercise right of local self-government Oregon residents take a stand over state preemption and unsustainable fossil fuel projects.
The Destructive Power of Preemption: How It Will Be Used by Congress to Halt State Action on Climate The term “preemption” doesn’t describe a single legislative or regulatory tool. The word describes a concept, in which the federal government or a state imposes restrictions on the rules and programs that governments operating beneath it are allowed to implement.
Republican Legislators Push for Cities to Be Treated as "Tenants of the State"  In several states, the efforts of the Community Rights Movement to advance a new relationship between states and local residents, which takes into account basic protections for local self-governance, are similarly gaining recognition.
We need your help, and it's easy to get involved. Help us reach as many people as possible by spreading the word in a few easy steps:
  • Make an online contribution to our FundRazr campaign by clicking on the large NHCRN logo below.
  • Make an "offline" contribution by mailing your donation to: NHCRN, 102 Lakeview Heights, Alexandria, NH 03222-6562
  • Help us get the word out to your friends, family and neighbors by sharing our campaign on social media.
  • Become a Host Community for Democracy by: showing We The People 2.0, organize a Community Rights Awareness Workshop, or host a Democracy School in your Town. NHCRN offers no-cost assistance to you.
  • Share photos showing your support for Community Rights on the NHCRN Facebook page.
New Hampshire communities and ecosystems appreciate your support today - and every day.

Thank you!
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