Dedicated to family, friends, the planet and Community Rights
The Ohio Community Rights Network (OHCRN), the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), family, friends, and community members across Ohio are mourning the passing of Dick McGinn. We are also celebrating his life – a life of service and contribution.
The Man – A Brief History
Dick was 78 years old, a native of Spokane, WA, and deeply rooted in Athens, OH. He served in the Peace Corps, became a teacher, and, though retired, he continued teaching everyone whose life he touched – about fairness, justice, being passionate for a cause, and how to do it with a wink and a smile.
His motivation: protect Athens water
Those of us at CELDF and OHCRN met Dick McGinn as the statewide Community Rights movement was first beginning in 2013. Like so many in this movement, the message of local self-governance of, by and for the people struck a resonant chord with Dick. He attended Democracy School and became a student again. Then he took what he learned and went back to his beloved community of Athens and began to teach and organize.
Dick had a knack for bringing people together. He was instrumental in forming the Athens Bill of Rights Committee, one of the first grassroots Community Rights organizations in the state. He motivated and inspired community members to collect signatures to place a rights-based citizen initiative on the ballot protecting Athens’ water.
The initiative was challenged and blocked from the ballot. Dick wasn’t deterred. The group worked with CELDF, revised the ordinance, gathered signatures, and successfully placed it on the ballot. Dick led the Community Rights campaign and it overwhelmingly passed with 76% of the vote.
His passion – Community Rights in Athens County
Over the next 4 years Dick became a passionate leader and activist for Community Rights. In Athens County he helped form the Athens County Bill of Rights Committee and led organizing efforts to place a Community Rights county charter on the ballot. Despite the growing opposition – in fact, perhaps because of the growing opposition – Dick dug in deep. He never acquiesced. Three times he helped lead the charge to advance rights across the county, and three times he doggedly fought as state government and industry blocked the duly qualified measures from the ballot.
Dick spoke at meetings, wrote letters to the editor, held forums and fundraisers, and attended and organized protest rallies. He traveled to other communities to help them advance Community Rights. He was a plaintiff on lawsuits and organized schools to teach others about Community Rights. Dick was a passionate force, who never gave up.
His mission – Community Rights Across the State
In 2013, when communities from across the state formed the Ohio Community Rights Network, Dick was there, leading the way. He attended the inaugural OHCRN meeting in Columbus and proudly signed the Columbus Declaration. Over the last year, he helped gather signatures to place a Community Rights state constitutional amendment on the ballot as well.
We Will Miss You Dick McGinn
Dick McGinn believed in democracy by the people, he believed in Community Rights, he always gave public and private appreciation to CELDF, he believed in protecting the environment and he loved being an activist for change to protect the future.
We will miss you Dick McGinn. And we will carry your passion and your legacy in our hearts as we move forward.