We the People 2.0 – The 2nd American Revolution
We the People 2.0 is a film about communities fighting back and winning against corporations that sludge, mine, frack and pollute.
— First Week Update —
Thank you all for contributing in our first week here with Indiegogo! It has been so heartwarming to receive the support for a film that is for all communities. We thought you would like to hear a clip from an interview for the film, it’s with Natalia Greene of the Pachamama Foundation in Ecuador. This interview footage is from one of the first shoots for We the People 2.0. Natalia tells how the Pachamama Alliance worked in Ecuador with other groups to pass the rights of nature at the constitutional level in Ecuador. Hear from Natalia about their work there, why it is so important and the global alliance of this work that includes CELDF. Thanks again and help spread the word!!! – Leila Conners, Mathew Schmid of We the People 2.0
To view this clip, please click on the updates tab above, and the video appears there.
Why We are Making This Film
I directed, wrote and produced The 11th Hour with Leonardo DiCaprio, and in the process of creating that film, I interviewed 72 experts in all fields of environmental and scientific research to determine how bad the environmental crisis was. This process started in 2004 and the film came out in 2007. What I found was that the crisis was worse than any of us know, and that the stability of the very life-support systems of the earth – those systems that we all depend on, are in jeopardy. The fact that this reality doesn’t drive all aspects of political decision-making and penetrate into our daily lives is mind blowing. We still are at much of the destructive behavior that must change if we are to survive.
So since The 11th Hour, I’ve been very interested in seeing where we can truly change. We produced a film on urban farming in Detroit called Urban Roots as we felt that urban farming is a real solution. Now we are working on this film, as we believe that true change can be found in the work of Thomas Linzey and CELDF – the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. I truly believe that this work can possibly save us all, and I mean, really save us, and that is why I am making a film about the work, how it came about and why it matters so much.
The film will explain how and why what they are doing – asserting the right to local self-government and driving the rights of nature into law – is so revolutionary, groundbreaking, gamechanging, profound, and necessary everywhere. By coming to the aid of communities who are fighting fracking, sludging, mining, and other polluting industries that threaten the well-being and health of people in those communities, CELDF found how to prevent the unstoppable march of destruction at the hands of large corporations.
As this solution to the environmental crisis is based in communities everywhere, we felt that it would be very exciting and important to appeal to people everywhere to help make this film happen. It is a people’s movement that is based on creating a world in which clean air, water, soil, food and people are possible and ensured for future generations. So be part of making this happen, help fund the film, and please join us in this groundbreaking movement. – Leila Conners
Our total budget is $450,000 and we are looking to crowdfund $150,000 or more if we can! The budget will pay for filming Thomas Linzey, filming the townships in Pennsylvania where the movement began, editing the film with a professional editor, stock footage costs (still very expensive!) that would show news reporting of local stories like fracking, sludging, and other polluting incidents, helicopter shots of local communities that have been stricken by polluting industries, and a solid musical sound-track.
Our perks have some great things including the possiblity of speaking with Thomas Linzey and Mari Margil of CELDF to consult on your community’s issues and DVDs, books about this movement. The book we offer is “Be the Change” by Anneke Campbell and Thomas Linzey.
We also have a promo poster from our last film, Urban Roots, by Shepard Fairey that fits the topics of this film too, it’s a poster that supports local farming and urban farming and the right to access to healthy food.
Our Film Proposal
Whether it’s climate change or the health of our oceans, air, and soil, the planet is worse off now than it was 40 years ago, and rapidly declining. Yet, corporations and those who run them are doing just fine. It feels like the environmental movement isn’t working. What did other movements know that we don’t?
We The People 2.0, Tree Media’s new film with Thomas Linzey of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, reveals what’s not working and presents a solution that strengthens our communities and stops the endless destruction of our ecological web of life.
Sustainability is impossible without community democracy.
Tree Media has joined with Thomas Linzey and the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) to create a film about community rights and how communities can protect themselves and the nature that sustains them. We think that when more communities act to put in place rights-based frameworks of law for both themselves and ecosystems that allow them to create a healthy sustainable world for themselves; then, all these communities, networked, will mount a substantial response to the global environmental threat. That means harnessing the power of government towards sustainability, rather than towards environmental degradation. The primary goal of this film is to inspire communities across the country to engage with this organizing, such that more communities work to adopt local laws asserting a community right to local self-government and the rights of nature.
Tree Media is most known for our film, The 11th Hour, with Leonardo DiCaprio and our most recent film is Urban Roots, about the emergence of urban farming in Detroit. Thomas Linzey and the Community Environmental Defense Fund is most known for their work with communities to enact Community Bill of Rights Ordinances. The biggest win to date was in Pittsburgh in November 2010 to ban fracking within the city limits. Community Rights Ordinances have now been enacted throughout the country and are supported by Democracy Schools that the CELDF runs.
Communities across the country face threats from corporate activities such as mining, drilling, factory farming, sludging, and water extraction. What each of these communities finds as they try to stop these threats, is that they do not have the legal authority to say “no” to them. In certain communities, this begins a conversation about why they can’t say “no” and can lead to a deeper questioning – if we aren’t able to make critical decisions about the places where we live, do we have democracy? If not, why not? And, then, what are we going to do about it?
We envision a film that helps people break out of the box of conventional, traditional activism to make fundamental change which elevates the rights of people, communities, and nature over the interests of property and commerce. These communities have reached the shared conclusion that without replacing the complex web of law and governance which subordinates communities to higher levels of government and corporate decision making, they will never have democracy and will be unable to protect their communities, the environment, the local economy, local agriculture, or quality of life.
In the footsteps of the Abolitionists and the Suffragists, these communities are frontally challenging an illegitimate structure of law and governance – what many have described as a “corporate state” – which protects and empowers a minority of wealthy interests over the majority. Through local lawmaking, they are taking on nearly 200 years of jurisprudence which clothes private corporations in the protection of the U.S. Constitution and which has resulted in a very small number of people making decisions that have decimated the natural environment and local economies; commodified nature, workers, and people; and undermined the ability of communities to self-govern.
Telling the Story of Community Rights and Rights of Nature
The four elements that make up the legal framework which prohibits communities from saying “no” to sludging and other threats, and thus which form a barrier to local self-government, are:
- Corporate Constitutional Rights – with which private corporations are able to override local decision making and chill efforts to stop a corporation from coming into a community;
- State and Federal Preemption – whereby higher levels of government override communities from self-governing even over critical issues such as protection of the environment or public health;
- Dillon’s Rule – a legal doctrine under which municipalities may only do what the state explicitly authorizes them to do; and
- Nature as Property – the legal construct which treats nature as property, as a commodity, preventing people and communities from protecting the local environment.
These are complex topics and in order to properly explain them, Thomas Linzey will make these four issues accessible through a recounting of the history of community rights and telling the story of how this work has evolved and where it’s heading, drawing parallels with past people’s movements such as the Abolitionists and the Suffragists. Linzey will also lay out what the promise of our democracy really means in practice and how we can, as citizens, practice democracy. He will show how past people’s movements, when faced with an illegitimate structure of law, understood that nothing would truly change unless they frontally challenged that structure.
About Thomas Linzey and CELDF
Tom Linzey is a cum laude graduate of Widener University School of Law in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and is a three time recipient of the Schools’ Public Interest Law Award, a 2003 recipient of the Law School’s Young Alumni Award, a 2003 finalist for the Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World Award, and a 2004 recipient of the Pennsylvania Farmers Union’s Golden Triangle Legislative Award. He has served as an independent candidate for Attorney General, receiving over 65,000 votes statewide, and is the co-founder of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a nonprofit law firm that provides free and affordable legal services to community groups and over three hundred local governments. He is admitted to practice in federal and state courts, including the Third Circuit, Fourth Circuit, Eighth Circuit, and Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals; and the U.S. Supreme Court. He served as coordinator of the Franklin County Coalition – a county-based association of twenty-one community groups and over thirty locally owned businesses; and for a Caucus of local governmental officials in Pennsylvania. He is a co-founder of the Daniel Pennock Democracy School – now taught across the United States – which assists groups and communities to reframe seemingly “single” environmental issues into ones focused on eliminating the ability of corporate “rights” to trump the rights of communities.
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit, public interest law firm providing free and affordable legal services to communities facing threats to their local environment, local agriculture, the local economy, and quality of life. The organization’s mission is to build sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature. Established in 1995, CELDF has now become the principal advisor to community groups and municipal governments struggling to transition from merely regulating corporate harms to stopping those harms by asserting local, democratic control directly over corporations. Through grassroots organizing, public education and outreach, legal assistance, and drafting of ordinances, CELDF has now assisted over 140 municipalities across the U.S. to develop new laws establishing community rights and prohibiting activities such as corporate water withdrawals, factory farming, the land application of sewage sludge, and shale gas drilling and fracking.
About the Filmmaker and Tree Media
Tree Media is a production company founded 17 years ago with a mission to use media and story to inspire action and positive change. Tree Media’s prior film, The 11th Hour was distributed internationally and created an online environmental action site with over 100,000 active participants from all around the world. Tree Media strives for a “triple bottom line” that brings social and environmental benefit as well as the benefit of profit. Tree Media creates “media that matters” – entertaining, profitable media that also has deeper meaning.
Leila Conners – Director. Leila Conners founded Tree Media Group in August of 1996. Leila is most known for directing, producing and writing The 11th Hour. The film premiered at Cannes, was picked up by Warner Brothers and screened globally. Leila most recently produced and created Urban Roots, a documentary film on the post-industrial collapse of Detroit and the emergence of urban farming. She has written a feature film script for Ridley Scotts Scott Free Productions on the state of the oceans. Leila is a member of the WGA and the CFR.
Mathew Schmid – Producer. Mathew is co-director of Tree Media. With a lifelong background in education based on the principles of Anthroposophy, Mathew is interested in stories that inspire and support individual and group development. Mathew most recently Executive Produced and Produced Urban Roots, a film about Detroit and the emergence of Urban Farming. Mathew also produced the Giving Birth, a documentary on childbirth.
What People Say About Our Films
The 11th Hour
“Exhilarating, leaves you wanting more!” The Los Angeles Times
“Catch it and change the world!” Elle
“Essential viewing. An unnerving, surprisingly affecting documentary.” Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
“I was blown away by this film!” Thom Hartmann
“I really loved the film. Very inspiring and universal in addressing the human need to cultivate literally and metaphorically.” Shepard Fairey
“Urban Roots is a very uplifting documentary about a much needed ‘thinking outside the box’ approach to helping save our city of Detroit. It shines a light on a grassroots movement that is helping to solve several major problems in our city––literally, from the ground up.” Kid Rock