In our current legal paradigm most communities have little say when it comes to law making, with centralised governments holding all the power. However, this is starting to change and we are seeing the beginnings of a ground up approach where communities are reclaiming their power to collectively choose the laws and regulations by which they wish to abide as groups.
Recent examples of this are:
- the Community Bill of Rights movement in the USA which offers a new organising model that seeks to empower communities to question corporate control through uniting by asserting the rights of communities, people and the Earth
- the Localism Act 2011 in the UK which sets out a series of measures with the potential to achieve a substantial and lasting shift in power away from central government and towards local people. They include: new freedoms and flexibilities for local government; new rights and powers for communities and individuals; reform to make the planning system more democratic and effective, and reform to ensure that decisions about housing are taken locally.
- The European Citizens Intitiative – a direct democracy mechanism in the EU where 7 citizens resident in 7 member states can propose laws for adoption by the EU - http://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/public/welcome
A ground up approach to law making is important for the health of the system as a whole because:
- It presents the opportunity to incorporate deep democracy – where understanding the voices, awareness and frameworks of reality of all, marginal and majority, is important for understanding the whole and reaching consensus that serves the whole
- There is more chance of law making being a dynamic process rather than a set of static and fixed rules which brings it more in alignment with the natural self-organisation principles of life which has its own innate wisdom
- There is more opportunity for communities to come together and protect our natural world by recognising the rights of rivers, mountains, animals, plants and so forth at a local level.
Our work in this area is assisting communities and local authorities in the co-creative process and spreading awareness of the options available.