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The Rights of Nature in the USA: Legal and Social Debates

May 19 @ 4:00 pm - 6:45 pm

Join us for a virtual screening of the acclaimed documentary Invisible Hand (2020), followed by a dialogue with US activists and scholars about the current struggles and advancements of the “Rights of Nature” in the USA.

The Rights of Nature are the guiding framework behind a new and diverse set of laws being instated around the world. These laws aim to secure certain rights of personhood for the natural world – for rivers, mountains, lakes, forests, and other ecosystems. They also aim to protect local communities’ right to self-determination when protecting local ecosystems from corporate or government interference. The Rights of Nature are increasingly taking center stage in public debates around environmental justice, ethics, and climate change, and are becoming a rallying cry for the global environmental movement.

Invisible Hand examines the movement to recognize the Rights of Nature in the USA by tracing two recent cases: a fight in Toledo to protect Lake Erie’s right to exist free of pollution, and a fight in Grant Township, PA, to protect local groundwater from fracking waste. Along the way, the film explores key questions about the future of the Rights of Nature: What does it mean for nature to become a subject with rights? Who should be tasked with defining and enforcing these rights? What possibilities does this paradigm of environmental protection and emancipation offer for grassroots communities affected by environmental extraction and pollution?

This event is free and open to the public. All are welcome! To register, please visit:


Film Screening: 4:00-5:30 PM
The Invisible Hand (2020) by Joshua B. Pribanic, Melissa A. Troutman, and Mark Ruffalo



Panel Discussion: 5:45-6:45 PM

Markie Miller, Toledoans for Safe Water and Ohio Community Rights Network
Markie lives on traditional Myaamia Ancestral Land. She is a volunteer organizer for Toledoans for Safe Water, the Ohio Community Rights Network, and previously for the National Community Rights Network. She currently serves on the CELDF communications team. She is an ambassador for the Lake Erie Bill of Rights and the Rights of Nature, speaking at the United Nations, appearing on The Daily Show, and numerous local, national and international media outlets.

Tish O’Dell, Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF)
Tish has been working as a Community Organizer for CELDF since 2013. Tish is also a founding board member of the Ohio Community Rights Network (OHCRN) and she co-founded the grass-roots organization MADION, Inc. (Mothers Against Drilling In Our Neighborhoods) in her hometown of Broadview Heights, Ohio. With her work, she assists residents to organize rights based initiatives to “make real” the just and sustainable communities they envision for the future. Tish has been featured in the documentary We the People 2.0, appeared on the Thom Hartmann Show and The Daily Show and is included in We the People: Stories from the Community Rights Movement in the United States.  She has written articles published in the Ecologist, TruthOutCommon Dreams, and she appeared on many podcasts and webinars including The Conservation Conversation, The Julie Rose Show (NPR), Living on Earth and a 4-part webinar “Towards a European Recognition of the Rights of Nature”.

Catherine Admay, JD, Sanford School of Public Policy – Duke University
Catherine is a lawyer, a scholar, and a teacher in the areas of human rights, law and development, global health, comparative constitutional law of socio-economic rights, conflict transformation, and interdisciplinary engagements with law (ethics, arts, storytelling). She was raised in South Africa and she and her family were later given asylum in Europe and in the USA, where she studied Law at Yale. She co-founded NYU Law’s first international law clinic (serving the government of Eritrea and civil society organizations) and founded and directed Duke Law School’s first international development law clinic (serving the government of South Africa and civil society organizations). She has served as a legal consultant to the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission (report issued May, 2006) and as a legal scholar contributing to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (report issued October, 1998).


Moderated by Joanna Sierks Smith and Francesca Sorbara



May 19
4:00 pm - 6:45 pm