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Democracy Collaborative Reports and Publications

The Possibility of a Pluralist Commonwealth and a Community Sustaining Economy

Gar Alperovitz and Steve Dubb

This essay by Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz and Research Director Steve Dubb opens the academic symposium journal issue on “Alternatives to Capitalism” which provides a collection of essays that explore the broader implications of community wealth building for creating a new economy.

Raising Student Voices: Student Action for University Community Investment

Joe Guinan, Sarah McKinley and Benzamin Yi

This new report from The Democracy Collaborative and the Responsible Endowments Coalition seeks to connect struggling communities to local institutional wealth through engaging student activism. The report profiles three administration-led initiatives and three student-led initiatives, as well as five potential future partnerships, where institutional investments are directed into local communities in a way that empowers low-income residents, develops small businesses, and generates sustainable economic development. 

What Then Must We Do? Straight Talk About the Next American Revolution

Gar Alperovitz

New book from political economist and historian Gar Alperovitz, the co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative, outlines how we can democratize wealth and build a community sustaining economy from the ground up.

The New Alliance: Organizing for Economic Justice, Building a New Economy

Clearly, community and labor union activists organizing for economic justice face many tactical problems in our current economic and political environment. Economic hardship and Republican strategy have increasingly redefined basic elements of the social safety net—welfare, Social Security, Medicare, and other programs—as “entitlements” to be challenged and cut. Tax policy has become more regressive. The pressures of fiscal austerity mean that essential public services that help equalize opportunity for all Americans—especially schools—are increasingly underfunded, to say nothing of the risk of outright privatization. Economic inequality is at extreme levels not seen since the Gilded Age. The position of economic justice organizers here is essentially defensive; fighting a rearguard action for the survival of underserved communities, on terrain which is becoming less and less favorable. The following argument is based on the judgment that it is necessary ultimately to be in a position that goes on the offensive—and that there are powerful ways to do this.

In particular, new strategies of worker ownership within a community framework can function as the linchpin of an approach capable of uniting economic justice organizers, progressives, labor, and environmental activists while at the same time presenting an attractive economic development option to municipal policymakers. Moreover, such an approach can help build economic power in communities struggling against concentrated poverty. More generally, a position that offers an alternative vision of the municipal and regional economy, oriented towards local multipliers at all possible scales, can provide a robust platform for a range of organizing work that points towards larger transformations in the economic system...

Hospitals Building Healthier Communities: Embracing the Anchor Mission

David Zuckerman, with contributions from Holly Jo Sparks, Steve Dubb, and Ted Howard

The Democracy Collaborative’s latest report, Hospitals Building Healthier Communities, provides an in-depth look at six hospitals in five cities that are rethinking their economic and community engagement strategies. These hospitals have recognized that health is more than just treating the patients that come through their doors and are beginning to adopt an “anchor institution mission” that can help build not only more prosperous, but also healthier communities.

The Anchor Mission: Leveraging the Power of Anchor Institutions to Build Community Wealth

Farzana Serang, J. Phillip Thompson and Ted Howard

This report from The Democracy Collaborative and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT focuses on the path-breaking Vision 2010 Program implemented in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio by University Hospitals System. Over a five year period, the initiative targeted more than $1 billion of procurement locally to create jobs, empower minority- and female-owned businesses, and create a “new normal” for responsible, community-focused business practices in the region.

Owning Our Future: The Emerging Ownership Revolution

Marjorie Kelly

As long as businesses are set up to focus exclusively on maximizing financial income for the few, our economy will be locked into endless growth and widening inequality. But now people across the world are experimenting with new forms of ownership, which Kelly calls generative: aimed at creating the conditions for all of life to thrive for many generations to come. These designs may hold the key to the deep transformation our civilization needs.

To understand these emerging alternatives, Kelly reports from across the globe, visiting a community-owned wind facility in Massachusetts, a lobster cooperative in Maine, a multibillion-dollar employee-owned department-store chain in London, a foundation-owned pharmaceutical in Denmark, a farmer-owned dairy in Wisconsin, and other places where a hopeful new economy is being built. Along the way, she finds the five essential patterns of ownership design that make these models work.

The Road Half Traveled: University Engagement at a Crossroads

Rita Axelroth Hodges and Steve Dubb

Authored by Rita Axelroth Hodges and Steve Dubb as part of Michigan State University Press' series on Transformations in Higher Education, the book features ten in-depth cases and examines how universities, by pursuing an anchor institution mission to improve surrounding communities in cooperation with community partners, can positively impact the welfare of low-income residents.

Leveraging Anchor Institutions for Local Job Creation and Wealth Building

Ted Howard and Steve Dubb

Co-published by two research centers of the University of California, Berkeley, this paper from the Democracy Collaborative explores the impact of anchor institutions on wealth building and job creation in low-income communities.

America Beyond Capitalism

Gar Alperovitz

How thousands of co-ops, worker-owned businesses, land trusts, and municipal enterprises are beginning to democratize the deep substructure of the American economy, with a new introduction by the author, Gar Alperovitz, and a new foreword by James Gustave Speth.

Climate Change, Community Stability, and the Next 150 Million Americans

Thad Williamson, Steve Dubb and Gar Alperovitz

Curbing carbon emissions requires far more than technical know-how. We must change not only our energy use and transportation practices, but also where and how we work and live. It also requires ending the commonplace economic practice of treating built communities as disposable items that can be abandoned when market conditions change.

The challenge is daunting. Yet it also presents an opportunity. Putting forth a vision of green community wealth building, in which community-anchored enterprises, linked to sophisticated and decentralized planning, support stable and sustainable local economies, this study outlines how truly integrated approaches can help America meet the sustainability challenge.

Growing a Green Economy for All: From Green Jobs to Green Ownership

Deborah B. Warren and Steve Dubb

This Democracy Collaborative report provides the first comprehensive survey of community wealth building institutions in the green economy. Featuring ten cases, the report identifies how policy and philanthropy can build on these examples to create "green jobs you can own."

Rebuilding America’s Communities: A Comprehensive Community Wealth Building Federal Policy Proposal

Gar Alperovitz, Steve Dubb and Ted Howard

Anyone concerned about the state of America's communities today must give serious thought to how public policy can support on-the-ground practitioners. This report from The Democracy Collaborative outlines an ambitious 10-year strategy to meet that goal.

Linking Colleges to Communities: Engaging the University for Community Development

Steve Dubb and Ted Howard

How can universities leverage their resources for community benefit? This report from The Democracy Collaborative outlines a comprehensive strategy to meet that goal.

Community Wealth Building in Jackson, Mississippi: Strategic Considerations

Drawing from the inspiration of the Jackson-Kush Plan and the vision put forward by the late Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, Cooperation Jackson emerged as an independent organization focused on developing a cooperative economy in Jackson in the summer of 2014. As an aspiring network of cooperative enterprises, Cooperation Jackson aims to reduce income and wealth gaps, generate living wage jobs with quality healthcare, and ensure the provision of adequate housing through the growth of worker cooperatives and other democratically owned enterprises. 

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