Resources for Living Democracy, Including Downloadable Tools

Resources for Living Democracy, Including Downloadable Tools

The Big Picture and Tools for Action

[A]ctive liberty, the principle of participatory self government, was a primary force shaping the system of government that…[our Constitution] creates.

—Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer

Today’s problems are too deep and interconnected to be solved from the top-down. Solutions require the ingenuity, experience and values of all of us. That’s the insight shared by more and more regular citizens across the planet. They’re letting go of the failing notion that democracy is merely a set system of government, something done to us or for us—what we call Thin Democracy. They are saying by their action that democracy is what we do!

The transition is underway. Democracy is becoming a way of life in our communities, schools, workplaces and more. It is an enlivening culture in which the values of inclusion, fairness, and mutual accountability show up in a wide range of human relationships. So—and here’s the vital part—its values apply just as much in economic life or in cultural life as in political life. And that means we don’t have to leave the best of us at home — our values, our creativity, our voice — when, for instance, we enter the workplace.

We call it Living Democracy because it is about the way we live together: In essence it means infusing the power of citizens’ voices and values throughout our public lives and removing the power of money from governance. Rest assured, Living Democracy isn’t a new fixed “ism,” blueprint, or utopian end-state. It continually evolves, incorporating new experience.

Small Planet Resources for a Living Democracy

Living Democracy

Americans for Campaign Reform
Coffee Party USA

Coffee Party USA

Formed as a response to the right-wing Tea Party Movement, the Coffee Party is a grassroots organization that defines government not as the enemy of the people, but instead as the collective will of its citizens and subsequently, we must participate in the democratic process in order to address the challenges we face as Americans. Since its founding in 2010, they have attracted more than 300,000 followers in nearly every state in the Union.

DEMOS
Center For Deliberative Democracy

Center For Deliberative Democracy
The Center for Deliberative Democracy, housed in the Department of Communication at Stanford University, is devoted to research about democracy and public opinion obtained through Deliberative Polling®. This process polls a representative sample and invites the participants to a weekend discussion with trained moderators, offering carefully balanced briefing materials. At the end of the experiment, a new poll is conducted, showing how highly informed and engaging discussions affect the conclusions people make on public issues.

Co-Intelligence Institute

Co-Intelligence Institute

A nonprofit organization that researches, networks, organizes and advocates for ideas and methods that go beyond conventional wisdom. Co-intelligence is founded on wholeness, collaboration and creativity. The Institute applies this value to democratic renewal, national and global crises and more to achieve sustainable cultures. It facilitated an Open Space conference for The Natural Step, a non-profit organization that provides research, education and advisory work in sustainable development, convening the dialogue necessary to create activism and evolution for the organization.

Center for Nonviolent Communication

Center for Nonviolent Communication

An international training and consulting group offering an approach to communication that enables people to “peacefully and effectively resolve conflicts in personal, organizational, and political settings.” Active in over 65 countries, the Center seeks to develop more sustainable, compassionate human interactions, both personally and professionally. The Women’s Project in Nagpur, India offers counseling and reflective meditation to victims of domestic abuse and challenges both men and women’s attitudes on violence within society.

Community at Work

Community at Work

A consulting group that “puts participatory values into practice.” The organization facilitates group decision-making and studies the dynamics involved in reaching sustainable agreements. It then creates workable models and methods to solve our world’s toughest issues through a combination of social activism, business, and social sciences. The organization’s Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making and its training helped those creating the student-led sustainability course at University of California—Santa Cruz succeed, mentioned in Thought 4.

Dynamic Government/Governance Alive

Dynamic Government/Governance Alive

Here you can learn about a proven, practical method of inclusive, democratic decision-making in complex organizations. Created in the Netherlands in the 1970s, DG is now proving effective not only in businesses, but also in human development organizations, co-housing communities, and families. Governance Alliance has worked with non-profit organizations to balance financial needs with public responsibility.

Doing Democracy: 10 Practical Arts

Doing Democracy

A guide designed for educators, group leaders, or any citizen who wants to become more powerful. These practices contribute to our enhanced decision-making, mutual regard, group learning and staying-power.

Food, Hunger, and Environment

Corporate Accountability International

Corporate Accountability International

For nearly thirty-five years, Corporate Accountability International (formerly Infact) has run highly effective campaigns to save lives, protect public health, and preserve the environment. Its campaigns have compelled dramatic changes in corporate conduct, from curbing the life-threatening marketing of infant formula in the developing world to securing strong new global protections against the marketing of tobacco products to children. The organization works to protect water resources, guarantee universal access to clean drinking water, and promote the long-term viability of public water systems. Its Challenging Corporate Abuse of Our Food campaign is helping to reverse the deadly epidemic of diet-related disease.

Seven Ways to Rethink Fear
Thin Democracy vs. Living Democracy Visual Aid

What is “Living Democracy”? What is “Thin Democracy”? This handout clearly defines each.

Doing Democracy: 10 Practical Arts

A guide designed for educators, group leaders, or any citizen who wants to become more powerful. These practices contribute to our enhanced decision-making, mutual regard, group learning and staying-power.

Five Sessions to Gain Clarity, Creativity and Courage to Act

"Five Sessions" is a reading guide for groups and classes broken down into several group sessions. It provides chapter by chapter prompts to help readers fully engage with and further develop the ideas found in Getting a Grip 2.

The Spiral of Powerlessness & The Spiral of Empowerment

A graphic from Getting a Grip 2 summarizing Frances Moore Lappé’s understanding of the assumptions that impede solutions and those that enable effective problem solving.

Eight Main Ideas of Living Democracy Discussion Guide

These handouts explain the eight main ideas that can help us to probe deeply, identify causal forces, and choose entry points to shift existing patterns. It includes graphics pulled directly from Getting a Grip 2, accompanied by text from the book that allows readers to engage more deeply with these concepts.

Case Study: The City that Ended Hunger

“To search for solutions to hunger means to act within the principle that the status of a citizen surpasses that of a mere consumer.” —City of Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Practicing the Arts of Democracy

Project for Public Spaces

PPS

Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is a nonprofit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. Their pioneering Placemaking approach helps citizens transform their public spaces into vital places that highlight local assets, spur rejuvenation and serve common needs.

Everyday Democracy

Everyday Democracy

Everyday Democracy helps people of different backgrounds and views talk and work together to solve problems and create communities that work for everyone. They place particular emphasis on the connection between complex public issues and structural racism. Issues addressed include: poverty and economic development; education reform; racial equity; early childhood development; police-community relations; youth and neighborhood concerns.

Common Cause

Common Cause

Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest. Today, Common Cause strives to strengthen our democracy by empowering our members, supporters and the general public to take action on critical policy issues.

Business Alliance for Local Living Economies

Business Alliance for Local Living Economies

Business Alliance for Local Living Economies mission is to catalyze, strengthen and connect networks of locally owned independent businesses dedicated to building strong Local Living Economies. BALLE believes in the power of local businesses to transform communities for the better by working cooperatively toward a shared vision.

Democratic Political Life

Deepening Democracy: Institutional Innovations in Empowered Participatory Governance

Deepening Democracy: Institutional Innovations in Empowered Participatory Governance

by Archon Fungm and Erik Olin Wright
(Brooklyn: Verso, 2003)

Agriculture

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
by Barbara Kingsolver
(New York: Harper Perennial, 2008)

An HSUS Report: The Impact of Animal Agriculture on Global Warming and Climate Change

An HSUS Report: The Impact of Animal Agriculture on Global Warming and Climate Change
Danielle Nierenberg, Humane Society of the United States, November 2007 
Nierenberg provides a great summary of the literature on animal agriculture’s contribution to climate change.

Democratic Communities

Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund was formed to provide free and affordable legal services to community based groups and local governments working to protect their quality of life and the natural environment through building sustainable communities. Increasingly, that means teaming up with people and their municipal representatives to mount campaigns that challenge the legal clout of corporations to overrule decisions made by citizens for their communities.

Environment

Applegate Partnership

Applegate Partnership
Applegate Partnership is a community-based non-profit organization involving industry, conservation groups, natural resource agencies, and residents cooperating to encourage and facilitate the use of natural resource principles that promote ecosystem health and diversity. Through community involvement and education, this partnership supports management of all land within the watershed in a matter that sustains natural resources and that will, in turn, contribute to economic and community well-being and resilience.

Stories for Teaching Living Democracy

Corporate Accountability International
Coffee Party USA
Co-Intelligence Institute
Doing Democracy: 10 Practical Arts
Living Democracy Adult Self Study Guide
Deepening Democracy: Institutional Innovations in Empowered Participatory Governance
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
Applegate Partnership
An HSUS Report: The Impact of Animal Agriculture on Global Warming and Climate Change
Common Cause
Business Alliance for Local Living Economies