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Cross-Sectoral

Towards Gender Liberation

Cecilia Gingerich
The Democracy Collaborative

Cecilia Gingerich of the Next System Projectexplores the necessity of system change through a gendered lense. Truly addressing the problems of the twenty-first century requires going beyond business as usual – it requires “changing the system.” But what does this mean? And what would it entail?

The inability of traditional politics and policies to address fundamental U.S. challenges has generated an increasing number of thoughtful proposals that suggest new possibilities. Individual thinkers have begun to set out – sometimes in considerable detail – alternatives that emphasize fundamental change in our system of politics and economics.

We at the Next System Project want to help dispel the wrongheaded idea that “there is no alternative.” To that end, we have been gathering some of the most interesting and important proposals for political-economic alternatives – in effect, descriptions of new systems. Some are more detailed than others, but each seeks to envision something very different from today’s political economy.

We are in a time of deepening systemic crisis. Throughout the world, we see staggering levels of economic inequality, unchecked extractive behavior by corporate-dominated industries, overt attacks on civil rights, massive and ongoing violence against women and people of color, deteriorating democracy, heightened militarization, endless wars, rapidly advancing climate change—and the list goes on.

Unfortunately, the system that has produced this crisis isn’t “broken.” In fact, the mounting challenges we face are to a large degree its natural byproducts and intended outcomes. Therefore, we cannot simply wait for the system to correct itself, or hope that by working at the margins for piecemeal reforms we will alter its fundamental outcomes. Instead we must think deeply about what we want to replace the current system with, and then work to establish the new institutions, practices, and customs required to make this vision a reality.

Conversations on Community Wealth Building

Steve Dubb

Drawing on a decade's worth of conversations with key leaders in the growing field, from cooperative developers and community activists to impact investors and social enterprise innovators, this book of interviews from the Democracy Collaborative dives into the front lines of the movement to build community wealth.  Exploring both the breakthrough projects that helped define the field and the lessons learned when deep challenges presented themselves, Conversations on Community Wealth Building is a unique look at the people, practices, and policies behind the new equitable development models of the 21st century.

Educate and Empower: Tools for Building Community Wealth

Keane Bhatt and Steve Dubb

How do low-income communities learn to advance economically and build wealth? Low-income communities and communities of color, in challenging structural economic and social inequality, have historically grappled with tensions inherent to development. Who participates in, directs, and ultimately owns the economic-development process? In creating and sustaining new, inclusive economic institutions, how do community members cultivate and pass on skills, commitment and knowledge—especially among those who have long faced barriers to education and employment? And how should communities strike an appropriate balance between utilizing local knowledge and accessing outside expertise? This report draws on case studies of 11 different community economic development initiatives from across the United States to highlight a diverse set of powerful answers to these critical questions.

Indian Country the Site of New Developments in Community Wealth Building

Five projects seek to launch social enterprises and employee-owned business in Native American communities
Indian Country is the site of some exciting new work taking shape in social enterprise and employee ownership. Five Native American projects are being developed as part of an initiative managed by The Democracy Collaborative and funded by the Northwest Area Foundation, known as the Learning/Action Lab for Community Wealth Building.

Economic Democracy

Ted Howard, Steve Dubb and Sarah McKinley
Achieving Sustainability: Visions, Principles, and Practices

Democracy Collaborative Research Director Steve Dubb along with Executive Director Ted Howard and Research Associate Sarah McKinley contributed the chapter “Economic Democracy” to the two-volume encyclopedia, Achieving Sustainability, now available courtesy of Gale Publishing. They outline the history of the economic democracy movement, highlighting community wealth building strategies such as community development finance institutions and cooperatives. 

Rethinking Community Economic Development Beyond “Rent or Own”

Changing the ownership picture to build community wealth

Crossposted from Rooflines: The Shelterforce Blog

Although the notion of building wealth through home ownership has taken a beating in recent years due to the Great Recession, ownership more broadly is still seen as a key factor in building wealth. So says the Greenlining Institute. So finds a recent study authored by Thomas Shapiro and colleagues at Brandeis University’s Institute on Assets and Social Policy. Even the Housing and Economic Development Commission of the National Baptist Convention agrees.

How to Democratize the US Economy

Gar Alperovitz
The Nation

As real income levels have stagnated and traditional politics remains deadlocked, communities are looking for new avenues to educate and employ themselves, from social enterprises and cooperatives to community development corporations and credit unions. Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz reviews the impact of these community wealth building organizations in “How to Democratize the US Economy,” a new article published in the Nation. This article presents the challenges of supporting these organizations and structuring new local and national institutions that foster efficient, effective, stable, and equitable local economies.

How to Democractize the US Economy

Gar Alperovitz
The Nation

As real income levels have stagnated and traditional politics remains deadlocked, communities are looking for new avenues to educate and employ themselves, from social enterprises and cooperatives to community development corporations and credit unions. Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz reviews the impact of these community wealth building organizations as well as the challenges of supporting these organizations and structuring new local and national institutions that foster efficient, effective, stable, and equitable local economies.

The Rise of Community Wealth Building Institutions

More people are turning to economic alternatives in which new wealth is built collectively and from the bottom up

Crossposted from Policy Network, and later published on the London School of Economics website, this blog is part of a debate event hosted by Policy Network in London, UK, that was reviewed in OurKingdom by grassroots activist James Doran:    

Five years after the financial crisis economic inequality in the United States is spiraling to levels not seen since the Gilded Age. While most Americans are experiencing a recovery-less recovery, the top one per cent of earners last year claimed 19.3 per cent of household income, their largest share since 1928. Moreover, income distribution looks positively egalitarian when compared to wealth ownership.

What Then Can I Do?: Ten ways to democratize the economy

Gar Alperovitz and Keane Bhatt

A new article by Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz and community development associate Keane Bhatt provides ten concrete action steps that individuals and groups can take to foster democratic economies and build community wealth. Using on-the-ground examples, this article shows how to engage credit unions, build employee-ownership structures, work with hospitals and universities to forge community partnerships, invest money responsibly, support thoughtful economic development, and encourage a green economy. Integrating these action steps into daily life will help change the nature of wealth and asset ownership in a way that is more responsive to community need.

Public Money for the Public Good

How public finances can be unlocked for local economic development
Public banks and credit unions weathered the last crisis much better than private banks, benefiting the communities they served as well. And many experts believe that it’s only a matter of time before the next financial crisis hits. To weather the next one well, we need to ensure that our individual and collective resources strengthen the types of financial institutions that are democratically accountable, economically stable, mission oriented, and that are actively helping build and keep wealth locally in our communities.

Asset Sharing Through “Inclusive Capitalism” Gains National Attention

Can Ownership Sharing at the Workplace Really Address Growing Inequality?

Last month, PBS NewsHour’s Business Desk featured an essay by Chris Mackin with the consulting group Ownership Associates entitled “The Alternative American Dream: Inclusive Capitalism.” Mackin uses the term “inclusive capitalism” as an ownership sharing proposition – one that is about creating a new relationship between employees and their workplace based not on a “sense” of ownership but on actual, tangible ownership. 

The Possibility of a Pluralist Commonwealth and a Community Sustaining Economy

Gar Alperovitz and Steve Dubb
The Good Society

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.

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