Dear colleague,

Welcome to our July 2016 newsletter. I am pleased to announce that starting this month the author, attorney, activist, and former candidate for California State Treasurer Ellen Brown will be joining The Democracy Collaborative as a Fellow. Ellen is a founder of the Public Banking Institute and has dedicated her life to democratizing the global financial system. She will be assisting our team on a number of projects and initiatives related to banking and finance.  

Community wealth building continues to take root as a systemic approach to address growing inequality, both in the U.S. and abroad. Three of our staffExecutive Vice President and Senior Fellow Marjorie Kelly; Manager of Community Development Programs Sarah McKinley; and Associate of Community Wealth Building Research and Strategy Violeta Duncancontributed an article to the U.K.-based journal Renewal in which they outline the tenets of community wealth building and a vision for a more inclusive and sustainable economy. A recent article in The Progressive discussed growing political interest in democratizing the economy and highlighted the work of Democracy Collaborative Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Next System Project Gar Alperovitz.

To learn more about how community wealth building policies are being implemented at the city level, watch our recently released  video recapping our January “Cities Building Community Wealth” gathering which brought together leaders in the field of inclusive economic development. Sarah McKinley discussed this growing wave of innovative city policies in her remarks at Northland College Center for Rural Communities’ forum on “Innovative Ideas for Our Local Economy.” Watch the full presentation and listen to Sarah’s interview with Wisconsin Public Radio. I also had the opportunity to speak on WXXI News: Rochester Public Radio about The Democracy Collaborative’s work to foster cooperative development in Rochester, New York.

Our Next System Project released a new animation that illustrates the principles of economist David Bollier’s “commoning,” a framework for equitably managing shared resources. We also published an essay from organizer Jennifer Bryant on a Washington DC-based cooperative that exemplifies Dr. Jessica Gordon Nembhard’s vision for a cooperative solidarity commonwealth, and an article by Erik Lampmann on the importance of building LGBTQ justice into conversations about system design. On June 29, the Next System Project co-hosted a webinar on energy democracy. Watch the full recording.

The Democracy Collaborative is hiring. We are seeking a Special Assistant to the Co-Founder to work closely with Gar Alperovitz. Find more information, as well as application instructions, on our website.

Ted Howard
President & Co-Founder, The Democracy Collaborative

New from The Democracy Collaborative

New Article: Politics of Place/Politics for Places

“Can we design an economic system that builds the wealth and prosperity of all citizens?” Marjorie Kelly, Sarah McKinley, and Violeta Duncan ask. Their answer, published in the Spring 2016 edition of Renewal: A Journal of Social Democracy, is a resounding yes. Through community wealth building—a systems approach built on locally rooted and broadly held ownership—communities can overcome increasing inequality and share in prosperity. The article defines the seven drivers of community wealth building (place, ownership, multipliers, collaboration, inclusion, workforce, and system) and provides examples of communities across the U.S. that are developing innovative ways to create a more equal, democratic, and community-based economy.
Read the full article

New Animation: How does “the commons” work?

Our most recent animation illustrates economist David Bollier’s proposal for “commoning,” one of the models highlighted in the Next System Project’s "New Systems: Possibilities and Proposals" series, edited by Co-Chair Gus Speth. Bollier refutes the traditional argument of the “tragedy of the commons”—which contends that common resources cannot be managed without markets or the state—and offers “commoning” as an on-going process for communities to create and maintain equitably and sustainably managed resources.
Watch the animation

Recommended Videos

The Struggle for A More Democratized Energy System

Watch our June 29 webinar for how energy democracy can promote sustainability, economic justice, and racial equity.


Cities Building Community Wealth: Highlights from our NYC event

Listen to discussions from our January "Cities Building Community Wealth" gathering about emerging policy frameworks for creating more inclusive cities.


Recommended Reads

U.S. Farm Bill Policy Perpetuates Racial Wealth Divides

According to a new paper by Food First, in 2012 over 97 percent of federal farm payments went to white farmers, most of which came through crop insurance or commodity support payments designed to bolster corporate agriculture. The author discusses how the growing influence of agribusiness in U.S. Farm Bill policy exacerbates racial, gender, and economic discrimination and furthers land dispossession for black farmers. He recommends refocusing the Farm Bill on programs that benefit women, people of color, and immigrant food system workers, not only as a means to create a more democratic food system, but also to build a more equitable society.


Miami-Dade County, Florida Embraces Community Wealth Building

This feasibility study conducted by the Florida International University Metropolitan Center outlines opportunities to promote broad-based prosperity and economic growth in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Recognizing the importance of addressing wealth inequality, the study highlights best practices that promote economic mobility and greater equity. The authors include a “Preliminary Action Agenda” which suggests directing up to $10 million to create a social enterprise accelerator, a community benefit agreement ordinance, a children’s saving account program, and an employee-owned business development program.


Best Practices for Bringing Worker Co-Ops to Scale

This second paper in Citi Community Development’s Building the Inclusive Economy series focuses on scaling worker cooperatives as a means to create quality jobs and wealth-building opportunities for low-income workers. Authored by Hilary Abell, Co-founder of Project Equity, and Melissa Hoover, Executive Director of the Democracy at Work Institute, the report draws from the experiences of Cincinnati, Ohio, Madison, Wisconsin, New York City, the San Francisco Bay area, and western North Carolina to develop a framework for understanding the successful components of a “cooperative growth ecosystem.” These include collaboration across sectors, diverse funding streams, and a “guiding coalition” to create a strategic vision.


Over $50 Million Allocated through Participatory Budgeting in 2014

46 communities across the U.S. and Canada implemented participatory budgeting initiatives in 2014, involving over 70,000 residents in the allocation of $50 million. This new report from Public Agenda assesses the impact of these initiatives, compiling and presenting data on implementation, participation, and the types of projects funded. It finds that youth and women, as well as black and low-income people, are disproportionately active in the participatory budgeting process when compared to their census data. The authors highlight this potential for participatory budgeting to extend decision-making power to groups that have been traditionally excluded from democratic processes and pose questions for the field to spur further research on how to improve and scale-up participatory budgeting.


From Our Blog

Co-ops Gain Ground in Communities of Color
Originally published in Shelterforce's Rooflines blog, this article by Director of Special Projects Steve Dubb describes how communities of color are participating in cooperative development.
Community Groups Tackle Racialized Food System Inequality
Our Research Associate Emily Sladek notes healthy food strategies to generate jobs and improve health in communities of color.

Upcoming Events

Community Development Society Annual Conference

July 23, 2016 to July 27, 2016
Twin Cities, MN

National Council of La Raza Annual Conference

July 23, 2016 to July 26, 2016
Orlando, FL

See all events

Featured Websites

The Practical Playbook

Launched in 2015 by the deBeaumont Foundation, Duke University Medical Center, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Practical Playbook is a free online resource developed to encourage collaborations between the public health and primary care fields to advance population health. Resources include templates for developing a work plan, tools for calculating return on investment, links to publically available data sets, and case studies of successful partnerships. Learn more at

California Center for Cooperative Development

Established in 2007, the California Center for Cooperative Development (CCCD) is a nonprofit organization that aims to promote financial, consumer, producer, and worker cooperatives throughout the state of California. CCCD’s Economic Development Programs specifically focus on cooperative projects that create opportunities for low-income residents. The website features a resource library which includes recordings from cooperative members sharing their experiences, a tutorial for starting co-ops, as well as sector-specific information for operating cooperatives. Learn more at
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