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[W]ho but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.
Aldo Leopold

The 5 Principles: Equity


Equity: Balancing Rights

What does Community Heritage Group mean by the "rights," when applied to community-building? An important chapter in the history of humankind is the story of extending rights to more members of the community. The 13th-century Magna Charta granted rights to commoners, America’s Bill of Rights eventually freed the slaves and gave women the vote, and today advocates argue for animal rights and the rights of nature. While the question, "Does a tree have rights?" might make for an interesting ethical debate (or perhaps not), when applied to civic planning, the equity principle suggests that no element of the community web be discounted automatically without accounting for its role in the larger network.

For example: Philosophers can argue whether a tree has rights, but citizens need to weigh or balance the tree’s place in the community ecosystem; and it’s possible to measure this contribution quantitatively, not just emotionally. That is, trees process carbon dioxide, naturally purifying the air; their roots absorb water, preventing soil erosion and floods; and their canopies screen sunlight, keeping utility costs down. These and other factors can be quantified, ecologically and economically, and then measured fairly against competing proposals.

Bottom Line: Don’t lightly dismiss the contributions any single element makes to the greater good. Treat every resource equitably. Obviously, this begins with your most valuable resource – citizens! The past (heritage) is another important element that shouldn’t be sloughed off lightly. All views should be listened to and factored into decisions, as should the "voice" of the entire community or region.

BALANCE AND COMMUNITY HERITAGE GROUP: CHG strives to represent democracy in action – giving "rights" and "voice" to all community members. You’ll notice an emphasis on civic participation in CHG activities, for example. Much of what we promote won’t happen without it. Likewise, Programs stress the need to fairly weigh and balance competing claims and consequences.

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