By Bethany Carlson
The Benton County Community Rights Coalition has begun gathering signatures to get their ballot measure to a vote. Dana Allen reports that they will have a table at the May Day Solidarity Fair on Saturday, May 3. On Thursday, May 8, they will host an event called “Exercising Your Citizen Muscle,” a volunteer kickoff and orientation on petitioning for the ordinance. The orientation will clarify the ramifications of the ordinance, what the signature gathering process is, and how people can get involved. That event will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the meeting room at the north location of the First Alternative Co-Op.
“This is really an exciting time for us, that we have made it this far,” Allen said. She also says that Lane County’s community rights initiative resubmitted its ballot measure last week, and Josephine County is gathering signatures to ban all pesticides and “toxic trespass” on agricultural and forest land. Lincoln and Yamhill counties’ initiatives are focused on issues such as logging and waste dumping.
“Each community is different in terms of what corporate activities they think are really hurting them. For Benton County it’s about protecting our local food system, which is highly threatened both by GMOs and the corporate agriculture that they rode in on,” she said.
The group is hoping to train more people to help gather signatures at their May 8 event. They’re planning to gather signatures at the Saturday farmers’ markets starting around May 17, and also have a location in front of both branches of the First Alternative Co-Op. 2171 signatures are required by August 6.
More information can be found at their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/gmofreebentoncounty/.