Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Ohio Community Rights Network (OHCRN)?
The OHCRN is a network of community members from around the state who realize the current system is not working well for them. Folks who formed the network are engaged in local charter/ordinance work to expand the rights of community residents – human and natural – in order to realize sustainability on a community scale and then expand that protection outward to the state level.
I just want to stop fracking or a pipeline in my community. Why should I get involved with ￼such a long term project?”]Short-term campaigns against one issue at a time have fractured the effectiveness of our efforts.
The OHCRN is working collectively to call for changes to fundamental law at the state level that will liberate our communities from oppressive legal constraints that facilitate and legalize the kinds of destructions we’ve been forced to oppose one community, one issue, at a time.
What’s wrong with the Ohio Constitution?
The Ohio Constitution has excellent language. The work of the OHCRN is to liberate communities and to bring alive the protections provided for in the language of the state constitution, so every community in Ohio can achieve a sustainable way of life that is free from state and corporate override.
Wouldn’t it be easier to elect the right people to the state legislature to do this work for us?
Ohio’s 132-member legislature is routinely subjected to corporate lobbyists, who encourage legislation that is friendly to their interests.
The people need to be part of a lobbying movement to drive community rights into state level law, to avoid having community interests overridden by corporate ones.
Aren’t traditional environmentalists already doing this work already?
Traditional environmentalists work within the current system to argue for the best permit possible, according to environmental regulations set by the current governmental system. The work of the OHCRN is to drive new legislation that supports community decision-making on issues that directly impact community members. We can no longer submit to sacrificing pieces of our communities to the many, harmful activities permitted by the State.
What are the methods used in OH to adopt amendments to the state constitution?
An initiated constitutional amendment is identical to the concept of an initiated statute only rather than proposing a new law (or statute) the citizen is proposing an amendment to the Ohio Constitution. The Ohio General Assembly also has the power to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot via a joint resolution.
There are several steps to the process, but Ohio is one out of 18 states that allows voters the right to amend their constitution through the ballot initiative process.
What if the amendment we propose goes nowhere the first time?
We are in this for the long haul and will continue pressing for change wherever we find avenues worth the pursuit. The folks involved with the OHCRN have pledged to pursue state recognition of community rights.
How long is this going to take?
That is difficult to predict, but we recognize this is a long-term strategy. We understand the problem; that community members are stripped of the right to govern. Past struggles for the recognition of equal civil and political rights have occurred throughout our history. The Abolitionists and Suffragists maintained pressure on government for many years before changes were realized. This movement will harness the energies of many, single, local, short-term oppositions into a statewide network. Ohio people will need to focus on liberating our communities from a system that strips away local authority and then institute new law that protects the civil and political rights of community members.
What is the role of county chapters?
County chapters provide the amplification for the local community work, from coordinating efforts at the state level, to selecting delegates for a constitutional convention. County chapters can also pursue a county charter through initiative to give all residents of the county a voice in the decisions made where they live.
Has this ever been done before?
The revolutionary work of changing government has been done by persons who were considered slaves during the civil rights struggle and by suffragists who sought the right to vote as persons. Work to end child labor and to create an 8-hour day for workers also followed patterns of resistance used by civil rights workers.
Do I have to be a historian or lawyer to do this work?
Government should not be “for a special class of men,” but should include every person and be open and accessible to everyone. This work is not complicated or impossible and it is also nothing new, it is only something forgotten. Ohio territories were filled with citizen involvement in politics and law making. Real people with common sense ideas built this state and it is that same kind of person engaged in conversations about how to remedy the current lack of authority we now experience at the hand of a much, maligned system. If we agree that government of right originates in the people and operates by consent; and that we have the inalienable right to change government; then we are the right ones to begin this work.
What obstacles should we expect?
State-chartered corporations who are currently licensed to operate in the state will speak against this work because they benefit from the way the corporate structure is currently operating. Anyone who benefits from the way the structure, will likely resist changes that might threaten the state’s power structure. Media will probably not be in favor of the changes we suggest, and may frame the work in a negative light much in the same way political campaigns are run.
To remain strong despite the obstacles that arise, we’ll need to stay focused on the larger picture of state-level changes that reflect the expansion of civil and political rights for everyone in Ohio. As with past movements, when the people work together, change can be achieved.