When I first learned of the Community Rights Movement and the rights of nature laws, a surge of inspiration overtook me. Immediately, I knew I had to be involved in this effort. What the inspiration told me, though, was not so much that I, Carla Cao, needed to be do this work, but that this work needed to be done. There was really no “I” in this feeling of inspiration, only a burning desire to help actualize a vision in which the environment and the people of any community can truly exercise their sovereignty. A vision of a society in which the inherent rights of the environment are respected. The Community Rights Movement provided me for the first time with a compelling example of people from all walks of life and in all parts of the nation and world bringing this vision to life, together.
The vision behind the Community Rights Movement and rights of nature is one that I shared immediately with as many people as I could. I identified people who were inspired by the same vision and we now work together towards a common goal, the goal of drafting Athen’s own rights of nature law for the North Oconee River.
Sharing a common vision and goal that requires such diverse fields of knowledge and skill has given me the opportunity to operate within the spheres of law, ecology, community organizing and art, to name a few. In fact, I thoroughly enjoy learning just about anything and developing just about any skill that will help this goal be accomplished. It is because I care deeply about what this work accomplishes, and not about what discipline is needed to accomplish this work or how such a project will help my career. I believe a genuine interest in realizing a shared vision and goal is the key to true interdisciplinary work, and what makes me feel like the work I do is relevant.
Everything I do, whether it is called community organizing or composing, is part of my artistic process. I feel expected to cut out chunks of my artistic process, package those chunks, and call them compositions. But, really, it’s all composition for me. When I read a right of nature law I think to myself, how this not only a law, but how is also a work of art?
My mind is swarming all the time with artistic ideas and endeavors that are inspired by my work in what others consider to be non-related disciplines. I never put my aesthetic lens down. Everything I do I consider to be in the realm of art. When I work towards a common interdisciplinary goal I put aside not my artistic identity or integrity, but rather my ego. I put aside, as best I can, the necessity to superimpose my ego on the world and, like a river, simply flow towards the lake to which we’re all headed.