We the People Issue: How your Columbia Riverkeeper membership is promoting life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
River Notes: A Letter for the Director
In 1788, the United States ratified the Constitution. You may have memorized the Preamble in school. Its words are powerful.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
If we wrote a new Preamble for the Columbia River today, what would it say? The “We the People” part is nice. Let’s start with that. The rest feels too abstract for our lucid and action-filled time. Here’s a start:
Insure domestic Tranquility by cutting global greenhouse gas emissions 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 and reaching zero carbon by 2050, including the leakage of methane, which is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide so we better just keep it all in the ground.
Yeah, a bit wordy. Hard to recite that one in front of your 5th grade class. Maybe this:
Promote the general Welfare by reversing Citizens United, enacting real campaign finance reform, and reining in out-of-control capitalism and corporate cronyism.
Secure the blessings of salmon runs for Posterity by stopping the merciless hot water that is killing salmon due to our warming climate and stagnant reservoirs behind dozens of hydroelectric dams, pushing runs of steelhead and sockeye to the brink of extinction and shutting down entire fisheries, all of which is going to get worse quickly if we don’t take action.
I think we need to simplify. This is what inspires me about our work together: You are willing to defend what you love and you are part of something bigger than yourself.
We the People of the Columbia River, in order to defend this place that sustains us, prevent extinction, lift up diverse voices, honor treaties, and avert a climate disaster, do ordain and establish ourselves—all of us—as watchdogs to protect the Columbia River and all life connected to it, to prevail over fossil fuel giants, stop pollution, and unite communities along the way.
The theme of this newsletter is “We the People.” Articles include: how your Columbia Riverkeeper membership is promoting life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; the 50th anniversary of the seminal case Sohappy v. Smith, which reminds us that “We the People” is not applied fairly to all people; and quotes from you, our partners and members. This newsletter also contains Riverkeeper’s annual financial report. Thank you for powering this work. Please let me know if you have any input or questions.
I want to give a huge thank you to everyone who participated in the youth-led Climate Strikes. We appreciate all the brilliant young people who showed up (you really showed up!), captured the urgency we need, and put the “We the People” back into government. You are an inspiration. Now we must continue the challenging work of creating real changes.
We the People Issue: How your Columbia Riverkeeper membership is promoting life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; the 50th anniversary of the seminal case Sohappy v. Smith; and annual financial report.