Florida Rights of Nature Convention 2020-02-08

Update 2020-02-09: Videos: John Moran, Doug Shields, Chuck O’Neal @ FL RoNCon 2020-02-08

What Santa Fe Bill of Rights (SAFEBOR) started only nine months ago has blossomed into a dozen county or river Rights of Nature movements across the State of Florida.

David Moritz, SAFEBOR

Here is WWALS video of what David Moritz said about SAFEBOR. More will follow, especially of what John Moran said.

Santa Fe Bill of Rights (SAFEBOR) –David Moritz
Florida Rights of Nature Convention 2020-02-08
Video by Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman for WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS),
Rights of Nature Convention, Levin School of Law, Gainesville, Florida, 2020-02-08

David Moritz posted on his facebook page the centerpiece of his talk:

The Santa Fe River is more than just an old friend, it is a part of our community, a beloved member of our family. It is an Elder whose memory goes back to a time before the time when our people first came to this land; the river is a gift from the Great Mother, a blessing to all of us.

We were ignorant at first, all those years ago, and we did not realize that our environment needed caring for, but now that we have grown and acquired more knowledge, we recognize that the river needs rights too. It is for this that we have come together as one family, one community to grant the river its due respect, its right to naturally exist, flourish, regenerate, and evolve; and much more.

Oh, sacred Santa Fe, may your waters once again flow abundantly, clear and clean and pure. May your life be long and full and may our children and children’s children laugh and play in your springs and on your wet shoulders for many generations to come.

I thought I was going to the usual Public Interest Environmental Conference (PIEC) at the University of Florida Levin School of Law in Gainesville, Florida. Sure, the theme was “The Rights of Nature: Defending our Biosphere”. But I didn’t realize I was helping televise a revolution in going beyond laws and agencies stacked against our rivers and springs and swamps, beyond adminstrative hearings and zoning, into the leading edge of a new way of organizing the legal system to change our aquifers, forests, rivers, and air from consumption to community.

That’s the key: changing from consumption to community. Changing the legal status of nature from an object of exploitation to a subject with its own agency as part of a community that includes humans.

This is commons in the Elinor Ostrom sense of sustainable community use, with nature as part of the community. This isn’t about property rights: public ownership doesn’t solve the problem. As Ostrom wrote with a co-author: “We conclude that simple formulas focusing on formal ownership, particularly one[s] based solely on public ownership of forest lands, will not solve the problem of resource use…. more important than the particular form of ownership is whether boundaries of linked social-ecological systems have been well established in the field as legitimate and whether regular monitoring and enforcement of rules related to entry and use exist.”

Our current systems of monitoring and enforcement in Florida (and Georgia) have proven woefully inadequate. Rights of Nature goes beyond Nobel Prize winner Ostrom’s work, in changing nature from mere resources to part of the community along with humans.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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