The Chambersburg Declaration
The Founding Document of the PA Community Rights Network

Signed in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, February 20th, 2010

We declare:

That the political, legal, and economic systems of the United States allow, in each generation, an elite few to impose policy and governing decisions that threaten the very survival of human and natural communities;

That the goal of those decisions is to concentrate wealth and greater governing power through the exploitation of human and natural communities, while promoting the belief that such exploitation is necessary for the common good;

That the survival of our communities depends on replacing this system of governance by the privileged with new community-based democratic decision-making systems;

That environmental and economic sustainability can be achieved only when the people affected by governing decisions are the ones who make them;

That, for the past two centuries, people have been unable to secure economic and environmental sustainability primarily through the existing minority-rule system, laboring under the myth that we live in a democracy;

That most reformers and activists have not focused on replacing the current system of elite decision-making with a democratic one, but have concentrated merely on lobbying the factions in power to make better decisions; and

That reformers and activists have not halted the destruction of our human or natural communities because they have viewed economic and environmental ills as isolated problems, rather than as symptoms produced by the absence of democracy.

Therefore, let it be resolved:

That a people’s movement must be created with a goal of revoking the authority of the corporate minority to impose political, legal, and economic systems that endanger our human and natural communities;

That such a movement shall begin in the municipal communities of Pennsylvania;

That we, the people, must transform our individual community struggles into new frameworks of law that dismantle the existing undemocratic systems while codifying new, sustainable systems;

That such a movement must grow and accelerate through the work of people in all municipalities to raise the profile of this work at state and national levels;

That when corporate and governmental decision-makers challenge the people’s right to assert local, community self-governance through passage of municipal law, the people, through their municipal governments, must openly and frontally defy those legal and political doctrines that subordinate the rights of the people to the privileges of a few;

That those doctrines include preemption, subordination of municipal governments; bestowal of constitutional rights upon corporations, and relegating ecosystems to the status of property;

That those communities in defiance of rights-denying law must join with other communities in our state and across the nation to envision and build new state and federal constitutional structures that codify new, rights-asserting systems of governance;

That Pennsylvania communities have worked for more than a decade to advance those new systems and, therefore, have the responsibility to become the first communities to call for a new state constitutional structure; and

That now, this 20th day of February, 2010, the undersigned pledge to begin that work, which will drive the right to local, community self-government into the Pennsylvania Constitution, thus liberating Pennsylvania communities from the legal and political doctrines that prevent them from building economically and environmentally sustainable communities.

That a Call Issues from this Gathering:

To create a network of people committed to securing the right to local, community self-government, the reversal of political, legal, and cultural doctrines that interfere with that right, and the creation of a new system and doctrines that support that right;

To call upon the people and elected officials across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to convene a larger gathering of delegates representing their municipal communities, who will propose constitutional changes to secure the right of local, community self-government; and

To create the people’s movement that will result in these changes to the Pennsylvania Constitution.