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Kai Sanburn: A deep love of place and the natural world both anchors and moves me. It’s easy to love this place and it’s painful to recognize the many present and proposed threats to its wellbeing. 

I believe the Rights of Nature movement offers a way to address the complex whole of ecosystem health, both here and elsewhere, via the recognition that natural entities are rights bearing. That is, they possess the right to survive, thrive and regenerate. From this recognition, the creation of legal frameworks to assert and defend those rights follows. This is a direct challenge to existing legal and cultural paradigms.

In 2014, I joined the Great March for Climate Action for part of their cross-country walk. There I was moved by the concerns expressed by all people about water, soil fertility, air pollution and species vulnerability. By the time we arrived in Washington DC, I was fully invested. What I lack and lacked in expertise, I made up for in commitment.

Showing up matters.

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Chom Greacen: I believe our relationship with nature and the planet needs to shift in a fundamental way in order for us and the planet to heal and thrive. Rights of Nature offers a legal framework for that radical shift. I’m interested in more than just a legal change, however; transforming our cultural relationship with nature is just as important and is perhaps even a pre-requisite to a long-term change to embrace Rights of Nature in the legal framework. The Rights of the Salish Sea is a great place to start for us, for me, since I live here and love the Salish Sea.

Anne Whirledge-Karp

Anne Whirledge-Karp: My initial concern has always been for the protection of the Southern Resident Orcas. There is a symbiotic relationship between protections for the Southern Resident Orcas, the Rights of Nature and of the Salish Sea, and Community Rights. Citizens of San Juan County have the inherent right to utilize the process of government to establish legal rights for the Salish Sea ecosystem that would then protect the SRO as well as all other living and non-living entities within the Salish Sea. The Salish Sea Ecosystem has inherent rights to exist, regenerate, and thrive. I feel a paradigm shift is needed concerning the manner in which humankind relates to nature so that it is one of harmony and balance and no longer one of destruction and extinction. Our current legislative body has not done enough to put in place needed protections and citizen actions are needed.

Ande Finley

Ande Finley: My interest in Rights of Nature goes back about 3 years to my first reading of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) pamphlet, when a lightbulb went off in my brain. I felt so intuitively that they were getting at the heart of the problem which was inexorably destroying our democracy along with the hope of a decent life for the citizens of our country, all more-than-human creatures, and ultimately, the survival of our planet. I was hooked, and so excited when a group of us gathered a year or so ago to begin the current effort.

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Pam Weeks: My love and my concern for the Salish Sea brought me here. I believe there is a need for a many armed approach to the Salish Sea’s viability and recovery. The Rights of Nature global movement has a tenant that Nature—in this case, The Salish Sea—has a right to thrive, not merely survive, to be healthy, to replenish and nurture life in it’s sphere. Community Rights San Juan Islands, CRSJI, believes we as individuals and as a community are responsible for that recovery. CRSJI challenges some of the practices and basic laws of business and government that allow for negligence of nature rather than promoting responsibility for replenishment.

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Julienne Battalia: I have lived on this incredible Island for 33 years and every day I am still struck silent by a moment of intense beauty. At the same time I feel a deep sense grief for the devastation that is taking place on our planet and in the Salish Sea right now. The movement to recognize that nature has a voice, that nature has a right to exist in and of itself, free of exploitation and abuse calls to my soul knowing what is true. Changing the laws in San Juan County to recognize nature and the rights of the Salish Sea calls me at the deepest level. It is an action of compassion and love toward the earth that could change the outcome of our future for the good, for the preservation the life of this beloved planet and the Salish Sea.