By David Brookbank on behalf of the Steering Committee
In a similar fashion to community radio and the public school classroom, the Community Bill of Rights is a truly democratic instrument which speaks the truth of solidarity — between neighbor and neighbor, between worker and community, and between human and nature — to a Spokane populace long subject to political manipulation, exclusion, and corruption. Whether or not the Proposition 1 passes at the ballot box on Tuesday, November 8, the Community Bill of Rights is a crucial educational vehicle and the fact that it is being debated and voted on once again puts Spokane on the radical/progressive map. For the initiative’s educational value to be successfully realized, the leading progressive organizations in Spokane — amongst them PJALS — need to get enthusiastically and wholeheartedly behind the Bill of Rights and actively promote it among their membership.
PJALS’ decision to back the Community Bill of Rights and Proposition 1, which will make it law, is a natural step. Openly supporting Proposition 1 puts PJALS side by side with the people and government of Ecuador in boldly defending the rights of an increasingly endangered Pachamama – mother earth – and her beloved rivers. As in 2009 when PJALS reenacted the Spokane Free Speech Fights on their 100th anniversary, support of the bill keeps PJALS in the tradition of the Wobblies and the Free Speech Fights in standing for the rights of once-again beaten down workers. And it takes PJALS from what some see as the distant wars of the Middle East or esoteric legislative battles of Washington, DC and once again takes PJALS into the neighborhoods where it has been on issues such as the Big Box initiative and Livable Wage campaign plus other neighborhood fights in the past.
A Community Bill of Rights would:
- Allow neighborhoods greater control over proposed development
- Strengthen protections for the Spokane River and our drinking water
- Protect workers constitutional rights
- Limit corporate special interests when the conflict with community rights.
(Find out more about the Community Bill of Rights at envisionspokane.org)
Should the Community Bill of Rights pass, the Spokane community will indeed be on unprecedented political terrain and presented with great opportunities, at which time there will definitely be need of and occasion for organizations like PJALS to assist the larger community in finding its way through the inevitable elite hysteria about impending rabble-led chaos. With its organizational capacity and experience, PJALS can certainly play a key role alongside the organizers of this initiative and other community groups in guiding the community as well as in analyzing and framing the issues that will be raised in the inevitable corporate and elite fightback.
We have a debt to be paid to our river, cemented in and contaminated as it is. We have an obligation to our children and our neighbors as we seek to create more human neighborhoods and workplaces. If we are to be what Spokane’s 4th grade teachers tell our children that they are, i.e., Children of the Sun (from the Spokane Indian word that dominant society tends to inaccurately translate as “Spokanites” in applying it to themselves), then we need to be that sun in concrete, powerful ways. PJALS has long been such a light in Spokane. Open, active support by PJALS of the Community Bill of Rights and Proposition 1 continues that powerful leadership role in the community and on behalf of justice.