Earth Democracy March 2014 Updates

By Nancy Price for the Earth Democracy Coordinating Team

This month, we feature news from Fresno and Santa Cruz. We invite members and Branches to regularly send us news of activities related to the Earth Democracy Issue Group’s mandate,  and the work of our sub-committees, so we may be inspired by each other’s vision, imagination, and success. Please send your news to

Fresno WILPF Co-sponsors the Film "BIDDER 70"

By Jean Hays, Fresno WILPF Branch, Earth Democracy Issue Group

WILPF Fresno's Earth Democracy Issues Group has been busy participating in and organizing several environmental events this year. One of the most exciting has been working in collaboration with California State University Fresno's CineCulture film series which screens current films each Friday on campus. WILPFer and film series organizer, Dr. Mary Husain asks WILPF Fresno each year to help choose the film to be shown on the date closest to International Water Day, March 22. This year, we have expanded our water theme to encompass water as only one part of our endangered environment, and to show what one brave person did to help save it. "Bidder 70" will be shown on March 21.

"Bidder 70" is the story of University of Utah student, Tim DeChristopher, who, on December 19, 2008, bravely entered into bidding in an illegal Bureau of Land Management oil and gas auction in the Utah state capitol. As Bidder 70, Tim bid 1.8 million dollars and won 22,000 pristine acres surrounding Utah's National Parks with no intention or means to pay or drill. Although the Obama administration agreed the land should be safeguarded and invalidated the entire auction, Tim was indicted on two federal felony counts, carrying with them the possibilities of up to ten years in prison. DeChristopher did spend two years in federal prison, being released in April, 2013.

Proposed Santa Cruz County Sustainability Ordinance

By Earth Democracy Committee, Santa Cruz WILPF Branch

The Earth Democracy Committee of the Santa Cruz WILPF Branch—Jeri Bodemar, Lynda Francis, Ellen Murtha, Mathilde Rand, and Randa Solick—report they have submitted a “Proposed Santa Cruz County Sustainability Ordinance”  to the County Supervisors and staff. To better implement the ordinance, they request a Guardian position, similar to an Ombudsman, be created under the Commission on the Environment. They state that both the Ordinance and the Guardian complement the purposes of the Commission on the Environment, and would enhance and further its current goals. Furthermore, they include the Precautionary Principle, detailed in the Ordinance addendum, as a guide to integrate policies and actions by the Board, Commission, and Guardian. 

This is the culmination of several years’ work by a number of Santa Cruz WILPF members organizing around the issues of water, the environment, and community rights. But this sustainability ordinance, in particular, represents two years of work that grows out the Spring 2012 tour by Carolyn Raffensperger to four CA WILPF Branches (San Jose, Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Fresno) to speak about Guardianship of Future Generations and the Precautionary Principle. In Santa Cruz, WILPF members hosted a brown-bag lunch for City Council and County Supervisors to listen to and meet Carolyn. This was followed by Jean Hays (Fresno), Randa and Mathilde (Santa Cruz) and Nancy Price (Davis, CA) attending the First Women’s Congress on Future Generations hosted by Carolyn and the Science and Environmental Health Network and Peaceful Uprising in Moab, Utah in Fall, 2012, which led to creation of the Earth Democracy Workshop, given in Fresno, Santa Cruz and San Jose Branches in Spring, 2013. And, one year later this has culminated in the Santa Cruz Earth Democracy Committee now having written and submitted their Sustainability Ordinance.

This shows you how vision, imagination, collaboration and persistence can bring success in finally creating a document to submit to the County Supervisors. Please take this opportunity to read the Proposed Sustainability Ordinance and supporting documents that incorporates the position of a Guardian of Future Generations and adoption of a Precautionary Principle Policy

It can’t be stressed enough that the Santa Cruz Branch and their Earth Democracy Committee has consistently worked in coalition with such groups as: Transition Santa Cruz, County Coalition against Racism, UNA, Santa Cruz Alliance for Human Rights, GMO-free Santa Cruz, People’s Democratic Club, Community Water Coalition, SEIU, COPA, and other environmental groups.  This past Fall, 2013, they worked with Transition Santa Cruz and the Quakers on two climate change programs.  As a result of working to form a diverse coalition including youth and Latino and tribal communities and to include environmental justice issues in their climate change work, recent organizations that have sprung up - Santa Cruz Rising and the Citizens Climate Lobby -  are composed of mostly young people.

The Earth Democracy Issue Group would acknowledges that these projects came to fruition because of generous Program Mini-Grants that funded Carolyn Raffensperger’s 2012 CA Earth Democracy tour, the 2013 creation of the Earth Democracy workshop  the materials and packets, and to the Santa Cruz Earth Democracy Group for venue rental for meetings, materials copying, and legal advice for the Ordinance. Thank you!

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