Newport’s city council also offered a proclamation:
Lisa Kern’s speech.
What is the Corporate I?
Today we live in the shadow of a super-species, a quasi-legal organism that competes with humans and other life-forms in order to grow and thrive. This new species has a number of capacities and powers that we mortal humans can only dream of. For one thing, it can “live” in many places simultaneously. It can change its body at will — shed an arm or a leg or even a head without harm. It can morph into a variety of new forms, absorb other members of its species, or be absorbed itself. Most astoundingly, it can live forever. To remain alive, it only needs to meet one condition: its income must exceed its expenditures over the long run. The story of the evolution of corporations has a strange, sci-fi air about it. Once upon a time we humans con-strutted a legal entity, only to watch helplessly as it broke its bonds and stormed the global village.
Our constitution begins with We the People. So this is The People’s Business. What principles, then, can unite us? One abiding faith that almost all of us share is that of citizen democracy: that citizens should be able to decide how they wish to live through democratic processes and that big corporations should not be able to tell citizens how to live their lives and run their communities. The most effective way to control corporations will be to restore citizen democracy and to reclaim the once widely accepted principle that corporations are but creatures of the state, chartered under the premise that they will serve the public good, and entitled to only those rights and privileges granted by citizen-controlled governments. Only by doing so will we be able to create the just and sustainable economy that we seek, an economy driven by the values of human life and community and democracy instead of the current suicide economy driven only by the relentless pursuit of financial profit at any cost. Therefore, we must work assiduously to challenge the dominant role of the corporation in our lives and in our politics. We must reestablish citizen sovereignty, and we must restore the corporations to their proper role as the servants of the people, not our masters. This is the people’s business.
You might ask what can we do to restore citizen democracy? To start with you can pass a resolution that will support an amendment to the constitution of the United States what would strip corporations of their personhood status. You might wonder why we need to take such an undertaking? That is the only way we can override the supreme court which has for the last 100 years delivered corporate biased decisions that gave corporation rights that our founding fathers intended when they drafted the constitution for the people and not corporations.
Paul Cienfuegos is offering a workshop that We think will be very interesting. For more information check out his website www.paulcienfuegos.com
January 14/15, 2012 in Portland, Oregon:
Full weekend workshop: “We the People Are More Powerful Than We Dare to Believe: first steps in dismantling corporate rule”. (Location will be announced when you register.)
The fee is $30 to $150 sliding scale, based on your ability to pay. Click HERE to determine how much to pay. Location is in Portland. Please pre-register soon to assure yourself a spot, as it’s likely to be full by early January. Registration fee will increase by $20, as of Friday, January 6th. Full registration fee is refundable until January 6th. After that date, I’ll return 80% of the fee.
We the People are more powerful than we dare to believe. For more than a century now, since large corporations won the “rights” of persons under the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, We the People have been slowly forgetting who We are. And forgetting that the Founding Fathers designed corporations as a subordinate legal fiction, chartered to serve a specific public need and to cause no harm. How far we’ve strayed from that reality!
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If we relearn our history, if we understand again that in this democratic republic, corporations were designed to serve us not rule us, then we can reclaim our sovereignty. Once we understand this, the sky’s the limit. We can reign in corporate constitutional “rights” with legally binding ordinances, as have more than 120 communities in six NE states: Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Maine, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts. We can get back to governing ourselves, collectively determining what a majority of us wants, in this nation founded on the principle of majority rule.
-What would this look like at the municipal level? How can we mobilize local residents towards these much larger goals of actual democratic self-governance?
-Do we even know what the majority of local residents want regarding water policy, health care policy, land use policy, cell phone tower policy, energy production policy, economic development policy, etc? We’re so used to thinking that all of these key decisions are out of our hands, so why even bother?
-Corporate constitutional “rights” tend to be one of the PRIMARY barriers against citizens having any relevant control over local decision-making that affects us all. Are local residents prepared to shift their activism towards more effective tactics and strategies that incorporate this reality?
This is the focus of my transformative workshop. I’m honored to present it to a body of local residents who are tired of losing again and again, when corporate interests interfere in our capacity to act as citizens.
After an initial presentation, I will facilitate a series of focused discussions, and small and large group exercises, to assist participants on the 5 first steps to dismantling corporate rule:
1. Understanding the history and root causes of the rise of corporate power, and corporate usurpation of our democratic authority to govern ourselves.
2. Examining the local impacts of corporate rule, how citizens are currently challenging corporations, and how these efforts could be redesigned to be much more effective. Decolonizing our minds and our language from the firm grip of corporate culture.
3. Taking time to express and feel our sorrow, anger, grief, despair, numbness, etc about living in a society drenched in corporate culture.
4. Learning the art of ‘democratic conversation.’
5. Beginning to craft strategies to recover our democracy from corporate rule (with specific focus on your existing local campaigns).
This is a workshop lasting two full days:
-Saturday, January 14 from 9am to 530pm
-Sunday, January 15 from 930am to 5pm
A maximum of 30 and as few as 10 people may attend per workshop. No previous experience or knowledge is necessary to attend. All are welcome.
The fee is $30 to $150 sliding scale, based on your ability to pay. Click HERE to determine how much to pay. Location is in Portland. Please pre-register soon to assure yourself a spot. Registration fee will increase by $20, as of Friday, January 6th. Full registration fee is refundable until January 6th. After that date, I’ll return 80% of the fee.
* First Steps in Dismantling Corporate Rule: We the People Are More Powerful Than We Dare to Believe
We the People are more powerful than we dare to believe. For more than a century now, since large corporations won the “rights” of persons under the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, We the People have been slowly forgetting who We are. And forgetting that the Founding Fathers designed corporations as a subordinate legal fiction, chartered to serve a specific public need and to cause no harm. How far we have strayed from that reality! But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If we relearn our history, if we understand again that corporations were designed to serve us, not to rule us, in this democratic republic, then we can reclaim our sovereignty. Once we understand this, the sky’s the limit. We can rein in corporate constitutional “rights” as have more than 100 communities in PA, NH, ME, and VI. We can get back to governing ourselves, collectively determining what a majority of us wants, in this nation founded on the principle of majority rule.
What would this look like at the county level? What do the majority of county residents want regarding water policy, land use policy, cell phone tower policy, economic development policy, etc? And is the Board of Supervisors in your county prepared to stand tall with that majority when push comes to shove?
Are local residents prepared to shift their activism towards more effective tactics and strategies that literally rein in corporate constitutional “rights”, which tend to be one of the PRIMARY barriers against citizens getting what they want for their communities. And how can we use the Supreme Court’s recent Citizens United vs Federal Elections Commission decision to mobilize local residents towards these much larger goals of actual democratic self-governance?
This is the focus of my transformative workshop. I would be honored to present it to a body of local residents who are tired of losing over and over again, when corporate interests interfere in our political processes.
After an initial presentation, I will facilitate a series of focused discussions and small and large group exercises to assist participants in:
* understanding the history and root causes of the rise of corporate power, and corporate usurpation of our democratic authority to govern ourselves
* examining the local impacts of corporate rule, how citizens are currently challenging corporations locally, and how these efforts could be reframed to be more effective
* decolonizing our minds and our language from the firm grip of corporate culture
* taking time to express and feel our sorrow, anger, despair, etc about living in a society drenched in corporate culture
* learning the art of ‘democratic conversation’
* beginning to craft strategies to recover our democracy from corporate rule (with specific focus on existing local campaigns)
This is a workshop lasting two full days. I can handle as many as 30 and as few as 10 people per workshop. 12 to 25 is ideal. No previous experience or knowledge is necessary to attend.
I have been leading this workshop since 1998 across the US and Canada. My desire is to bend the workshop towards the specific needs of your community members, and focused on the corporate harms taking place in your community.
See many comments from previous workshop participants below:
“Paul Cienfuegos is on to something huge – and you will be too after hearing him.” – Vicki Robin, co-author with Joe Dominguez of “Your Money Or Your Life”, Washington
“Paul Cienfuegos brings to his work and presentations regarding corporate assaults on people, planet and democracy both important information and energetic commitment. He provides historical context for the devastating consequences of corporate rule, and offers examples of citizen action that begin to put corporations in appropriate, subordinate relationship to We the People.” – Virginia Rasmussen, co-chair of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom’s national campaign to “Challenge Corporate Power, Assert the People’s Rights”, Massachusetts
“Paul Cienfuegos’ work is at the cutting edge of social change, blending keen analysis with invaluable experience in reclaiming our power from corporate hegemony. Having the good fortune of working with Paul for twenty years, I am grateful for his passionate commitment to democracy and ecological sanity. A lively speaker and a resourceful workshop leader, he helps us find concrete steps toward building a just and sustainable society.” – Joanna Macy, author of “Coming Back to Life”, California
“Paul provides a wealth of information, especially vital historic facts about corporations’ rise to power that we were never taught. He works well with small groups and sees that every attendee participates. I highly recommend Paul’s workshops to all folks interested in political change.” – Tom Wodetzki, ex-co-chair of the Mendocino Coast chapter of the Alliance for Democracy, California
“A powerful workshop… . Paul’s message of hope needs to be widely spread.” – Robert Botley, retired Unitarian Universalist minister, California
“Paul’s workshop changed my life. I now spend untold hours working to redefine the corporate form. Beware, truth is contagious! Rarely have I learned so much in one day, perhaps not since the birth of my son. An eye, heart and mind opener.” – Jan Edwards, co-chair of the Redwood Coast Alliance for Democracy, and co-author of the Resolution on Corporate Personhood in the City of Point Arena, California
“Paul Cienfuegos communicates with intensity, passion, commitment and clarity.” – Joan Russow (PhD), Global Compliance Research Project, British Columbia, Canada
“…Paul is a high-energy presenter whose engaging style is very effective at delivering the message citizens need to understand: corporations are the subordinate creations of “we the people” and we can and must reassert our sovereignty over them.” – Betsy Barnum, Executive Director, Great River Earth Institute, Minnesota
* Next Steps in Dismantling Corporate Rule: Visioning, Developing and Managing a Campaign
Continuing where we left off – developing/designing tactics and strategies to shift power towards We the People. Kind of like Organizers Training 101, but unlike the standard training, we do NOT concede/assume that corporations have legitimate rights of persons under the Constitution, and proceed from that more democratic assumption.
Additionally, we can focus on and practice some of the following, depending on the group’s highest priorities:
* how to interact with the corporate and independent media, and create our own media,
* how to do public outreach and mobilize citizens,
* how to meet with and challenge government officials,
* whether to consider doing nonviolent direct action/ civil disobedience as one tactic among many,
* organizing and running meetings,
* reaching out to diverse communities,
* building political power (electoral and otherwise)
This is a workshop lasting two full days. I can handle as many as 25 and as few as 8 people per workshop. 12 to 20 is ideal. To attend, you must have already attended my “First Steps in Dismantling Corporate Rule” workshop, or an equivalent from other workshop leaders.
This is a new workshop which I have not yet led. I would bring in one additional experienced trainer for this workshop.
* Taking OUR Local Mass Media Back From Large Corporations: We the People Are More Powerful Than We Dare to Believe
In a democratic society like ours the people are sovereign over our corporate institutions (at least according to the Constitution). That means mass media has a responsibility to the citizenry to provide accurate and comprehensive news and analysis – they must either fulfill this responsibility or be replaced by those who will. But how would we determine these minimum standards for our local corporate TV and radio news stations and daily papers? What would this process look like? And how would communities organize themselves? In this workshop, we will:
* Discuss what minimum standards should be required from our local corporate media institutions,
* Dare to contemplate that we citizens actually have the right to insist on such standards,
* Envision how local residents in communities across the country could be meeting – across the ideological spectrum – to begin to identify common-ground issues,
* Explore the historical and legal precedents that provide strong support for such a movement to succeed, and
* Begin to design creative tactics and strategies to take our local corporate TV and radio news stations and newspapers back via mass democratic action.
This is a workshop lasting one full day. I can handle as many as 25 and as few as 10 people per workshop. 12 to 20 is ideal. No previous experience or knowledge is necessary to attend.
I have been leading this workshop since June 2003 in numerous cities and towns in California, Oregon, British Columbia, and Minnesota, after premiering it at the annual National Conference on Media Reform in Madison, Wisconsin, in November 2003.
* Despair and Personal Power in an Age of Corporate Rule and Climate Crisis
A workshop to help you to deal with your difficult feelings of pain for the world. Based on the work of Joanna Macy and others.
Through sharing and group exercises, this workshop will help us access, express and transform our grief, rage, depression, numbness, despair, guilt and sorrow into genuine empowerment and renewed energy with which to meet these challenging times.
This is a workshop lasting two full days. I can handle as many as 20 or as few as 8 people per workshop. 12 to 15 is ideal. No previous experience or knowledge is necessary to attend.
I have been leading this workshop since 1982, after becoming one of the first Americans to be trained to lead them – by Joanna Macy, Chellis Glendinning and others. I then led dozens of workshops for the next three years in England, Scotland, Wales, France and Holland. I was the founding director of Interhelp-UK, bringing this profound work to Europe for the first time in an ongoing way. In 2002, I attended a second intensive training led by Joanna Macy.
* Active Listening for Activists
In this workshop, we will learn how to listen actively to members of the public whom we do not know. Activists tend to be much more comfortable (and experienced) talking about issues than we are really listening to members of the public. There will be sufficient time for us to practice what we are learning in groups of two, as we head out into public space to interact with a variety of strangers. We’ll then come back together to report on what we experienced, and have time for additional roleplays and evaluation.
This is a workshop lasting one full day. I can handle as many as 30 or as few as 10 people per workshop. 12 to 20 is ideal. No previous experience or knowledge is necessary to attend.
I have been leading this workshop since 1984 in Great Britain and Washington State. I invented the workshop in 1984 while living in Scotland and working with the British peace movement. I trained others to lead it, and led it myself eight times.
* Yanking Corporate Culture Out of Our Heads: learning how we think and speak living in a society saturated in corporate culture
Corporate leaders want us to act like consumers, not citizens, so we can leave the act of governing to them, while we happily vote with our dollars. They also manage to get us to think corporate, even when we think we’re acting rebellious. We the People are mostly fractured and confused. Life itself is at stake. Learn how to change the way you think and speak about corporate rule. Believe it or not, it’s even fun!
* Is a Truly Sustainable Society Achievable As Long As Corporate Rights Trump the Rights of People?
Americans already want better environmental protection and they’re willing to pay for it, according to polls. But our elected officials continue to allow the rapid degradation of our environment. Americans are strongly in favor of bold legislative responses to the climate crisis and the health care crisis, but our elected officials hem and haw. Why? Because we the people are no longer the primary constituents of the people we elect – corporations are! Why? Because corporate constitutional “rights” trump the rights of people. And how do we tend to respond to this travesty? By continuing to struggle in vain against one corporate harm at a time, one corporation at a time, mostly via the regulatory agencies. We cannot possibly win in this manner.
We must change our tactics and start boldly challenging the constitutional rights of corporations to participate in American democratic processes. Only then can we achieve a truly sustainable and democratic society.
* How Your Community Can Successfully Replicate Arcata, California’s Groundbreaking and Historic “Initiative on Democracy and Corporations”
In 1998, I co-directed a campaign to place an advisory initiiative on the ballot in Arcata, CA, titled “Measure F: The Arcata Advisory Initiative on Democracy and Corporations”. We won with 55% of the vote in the November 2008 elections. The Initiative called on the Arcata City Council to host two town-hall meetings on the topic: “Can we have democracy when large corporations wield so much power and wealth under law?” 4% of Arcata registered voters attended the meetings – about 600 people – a huge turnout.
The Initiative also called on the City Council to create the “City of Arcata Committee on Democracy and Corporations”, with a mandate to reign in corporate rule within the city. The Committee has been meeting every month since 2000. I served on the Committee for its first seven years, and was its chair for a portion of that time.
Thus far, the Committee has proposed, and the City Council has passed, a permanent ban on any further corporate chain restaurants opening in Arcata (2002), a resolution abolishing corporate personhood within the city (2004), and is currently working to finalize ordinance language which would expand the existing ban on new corporate chain restaurants to include all corporate chain retail establishments in the city. You can view the Committee’s agendas on the City’s website here.
I am convinced that any town or city that has the ballot initiative option in this country could run and win a similar vote. The cultural impact of such a campaign on the people of a community is massive and long-term. Residents re-think what their proper relationship is in this democratic republic between themselves and the corporations in their community. They gain a deeper understanding of their own history, and discover that we don’t have to put up with this sort of corporate interference and manipulation of We the People’s democratic processes. And the City Council Committee can have significant long-term impact as well, as it drafts ordinances for the City to consider, and builds community support for passage of its proposals.
Would you like to learn more about what your community could do to run and pass such an initiative?