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System Change

Intellectual work to design “the next system”

Connecting community wealth building to the larger context of systemic economic transformation—towards more democratized forms of ownership, true ecological sustainability, and a renewal of community and democracy.

At the Collaborative, we recognize the scope of the systemic problem facing American democracy: the richest 400 people in the country now own more wealth than the bottom 180 million taken together, and as Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis warned “we can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”  

There are no quick fixes to a problem of this magnitude; building an economy that works for the over 45 million Americans currently living below the poverty line, especially in the face of mounting ecological crises, requires a thoroughgoing and careful reconstruction of the foundations of our economic system.  Understanding, in real terms, the contours of a nationwide renewal of political and economic democracy is no easy task, and here at the Democracy Collaborative we understand that even the most immediate community economic development work risks irrelevance unless it is carried out with an eye towards this larger frame.  

Drawing on the decades of intellectual work and grassroots experience of our co-founder  Gar Alperovitz , the Democracy Collaborative works to connect the emerging context of practice around community wealth building to the "system problem"—the design of forms of economic life rooted in sustainable communities and grounded in the best of the American tradition.  Under our direction, The Next System Project—co-chaired by our co-founder Gar Alperovitz together with Senior Fellow Gus Speth—is convening a multi-year collaboration of top scholars and leading national voices to articulate new systemic visions adequate to the long-term crisis facing our society.

For more on Gar Alperovitz's work, please visit garalperovitz.com and pluralistcommonwealth.org.

For more on The Next System Project, please visit thenextsystem.org.