Building Bridges Guiding Principles

 At the first Building Bridges event in November, 2011, community leaders came up with these 5 principles that can guide us toward the vision of a just and ecologically sound local economy. The sub-headings have been added in May 2014.

1. We put equity and environment at the center of all we do.

We recognize that structural poverty and the accelerating pace of climate change affect us all and have the most detrimental impact low-income populations.

• “Connect the dots” between equity and the environment and shift away from a throwaway economy which treats people, things, and places as disposable.

• Seek to create a healthy local economy that provides dignified, long-term employment opportunities and where everyone can thrive.

• Use our natural resources in the most sustainable way possible.

2. We respect human rights and human dignity.

• Understanding that human rights go beyond civil and political rights to include economic, social and cultural rights, we strive to create a social structure in which all people understand, promote and protect their own rights and the rights of others.

3. We build stronger, healthier relationships across race, class, and place.

Recognizing that racial, economic and other forms of injustice are deeply and often invisibly structured into our institutions and cultural norms, we make sustained commitments as individuals and as organizations to:

• Stretch outside our cultural and geographic comfort zones.

• Get to know one another’s experiences and needs.

• Work together to undo stereotypes.

• Build trust by embracing and celebrating our differences and our common ground.

• Think and behave more inclusively in all aspects of our personal and organizational lives.

• Stay focused on the goal of “beloved community” where all people are valued and all can thrive.

4. We ensure broad inclusion and access to decisions about available resources; we will:

• Ask: Whose voices are missing? (Are the perspectives of rural, low-income, people of color, youth and elders, people with disabilities, formerly incarcerated people, and people of all gender identities, sexual orientations, and family structures fairly represented when plans and policies are put in place?)

• Bring the voices that are usually at the periphery of civic decision-making to the center of our conversations.

• Assure that decisions and resources are shared fairly.

5. As with all other human rights, we commit to ensuring access for everyone in our community to the basics of healthy and earth-friendly living:

• Clean water, air and soil

• Fresh healthful food

• Living-wage work

• Convenient public transportation

• Energy-efficient housing and renewable energy

• High-quality healthcare and education

These principles, if we take them to heart, represent something very different from “business as usual.” Adopting the principles means staying engaged in a challenging, ongoing process, learning from our mistakes and celebrating and sharing what we are accomplishing.

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