Local Democracy

Underlying society, and superior to constitutions are equality, and certain unalienable rights, inherent in all people in virtue of their very humanity, and it is only when this democracy is a living idea in the community that it can become a living fact in the state.
~ Racine Advocate, 1854 Liberty Tree's Local Democracy Program works with elected officials, political parties, and community organizations in the United States to democratize local governments and to unite them as agents of democratic change. This program prioritizes the growth of strong participatory cultures in local government, implementation of democratizing policy reforms at the local level, and the emergence of an alliance of democratic local governments as a force in national politics.

Community Wireless Resources

October 1, 2010

Free Press

www.freepress.net/communityinternet

Description: Provides legislative updates and searches for community networks in your area.

MuniWireless

http://muniwireless.com/

Description: Home base for anyone interested in the municipal wireless movement. Portal for news and information on projects around the world.

Analyses of Participatory Democracy Elsewhere

October 1, 2009

Argentina
www.linesofflight.net/work/rosario_pb_columbia.pdf
Learning Citizenship and Democracy Through Participatory Budgeting: The Case of Rosario, Argentina, by Josh Lerner and Daniel Schugurensky. Analysis of the pedagogical dimension and educational effects of participatory budgeting.

Australia
Active Democracy: Citizen Participation in Decision Making
www.activedemocracy.net
Description: Run by Lyn Carson at University of Sydney, this is an interesting collection of mostly Australian case studies and links.

United Kingdom
WE Power
www.powerinquiry.org

Local Democracy Associations and Organizations

September 30, 2009

 

America Speaks

www.americaspeaks.org

Description: A nonprofit organization that develops tools and provides consulting on achieving greater citizen input into public decision making.

 

  Chicago Area Participatory Economics Society

www.chicagoparecon.org
Description: The Chicago organization dedicated to public education on democratic economic models.  Based on "parecon" or participatory economics. 

 

Local Democracy News Sources

September 29, 2009

Inter Press Service News Agency -- The Word From the Street: City Voices
http://ipsnews.net/new_focus/cityvoices/index.aspDescription: Stories from around the world about local struggles against neoliberalism.

The International Budget Project
http://www.internationalbudget.org/
Newsletter with lots of updates on participatory budgeting and other participatory democracy programs.

Direct Legislation Resources

September 28, 2009

February 8, 2006: Council Ordered To Address Iraq Issue
Description: A judge orders city council of Watertown, Wisconsin to decide whether it will vote on a resolution to withdraw US troops from Iraq or let it proceed to referendum. The judge found it a legislative matter and proper for the council to consider. Advisory referenda are proper subjects for direct legislation.

 

Documentary Beyond Elections takes a look at grassroots democracy in the Americas

March 31, 2010

Traveling from Venezuela's Communal Councils to Brazil's Participatory Budgeting, from Constitutional Assemblies to grassroots movements, recuperated factories to cooperatives across the hemisphere, Beyond Elections takes us on a journey across the Americas, to attempt to answer one of the most important questions of our time: What is Democracy? The two excerpts below give an introduction and discuss Brazil's participatory budgeting process.

Beyond Elections Part I: Introduction

Additional Information: 

The Beyond Elections documentary here...
U.S. Participatory Budgeting Network here...

COLERIDGE: Keeping Public Assets Public

March 13, 2009
Greg Coleridge
Reprinted from By What Authority?

The dominant culture does not look kindly on most "public" systems. From housing to hospitals, schools to sewers, parks to prisons, or water to welfare, publicly owned or run systems are frequently portrayed as inefficient, ineffective, expensive, and/or dangerous. "Public" is dark, drab, cold, and old.

The word "private," by contrast, brings forth images of modern, clean, efficient, cheap, and safe. The corporate media, think tanks, and many elected officials perpetually tout the supposed benefits of "private" societal institutions.

But what is "public" and "private" when applied to government and economy? Are existing municipally operated systems best kept under public control or should they be "privatized"?

Additional Information: 

This article was written by Greg Coleridge of the Program on Corporations Law and Democracy for their newsletter, By What Authority?
See it in its original here: http://www.poclad.org/?pg=By_What_Authority&show=b090301.txt

MANSKI: The New U.S. Democracy Movement

October 9, 2008
Ben Manski

Around the world, Americans are often maligned as self-serving, ignorant, and conservative. Yet Americans are generally a progressive people.

Public opinion research tells the story:

  • Most Americans favor creating a federal universal single payer health care system.
  • Most support trade policies based not on property rights, but human rights, environmental protection, and popular sovereignty.
  • Majorities believe that the U.S. should not act as the “world’s police force,” and large majorities support the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
  • Americans, by and large, believe that access to quality education is a basic right, and are willing to raise taxes to pay for it.

Additional Information: 

This article was written for Movement Vision Lab. Click here for the original edition.
~ Ben Manski is a Wisconsin attorney and the executive director of Liberty Tree

VIDEO: Building a Democracy Movement in the USA

December 28, 2006
Ben Manski, David Cobb, Juscha Robinson, and Pabitra Benjamin

Check out this short video from "BUILDING A DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT IN THE UNITED STATES", a workshop by Liberty Tree Fellows Benjamin, Cobb, Manski, and Robinson, one of about 100 sessions at the 2006 Midwest Social Forum. The video is a production of On the Earth Productions, a media production company dedicated to informing the public about important ethical, environmental and political issues that affect our every-day lives.

Additional Information: 

To download the video, click here.

For information on the Midwest Social Forum, click here.

To check out On the Earth Productions, click here.

Z Magazine interviews Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap about Measure T

December 2, 2006

Last June voters in Northern California’s Humboldt County approved a ballot initiative that banned non-local corporate money in elections. The referendum, dubbed Measure T, also rejected corporate personhood, the legal doctrine that grants corporations the same rights and protections as persons. Measure T’s passage represents the most explicit challenge to corporate “rights” and political power in the country at this time.

Video from the Local Democracy Convention

December 1, 2006

Want to know more about participatory budgeting? Taking on City Hall? Home rule? Rebuilding New Orleans? Municipal foreign policy? Ballot initiatives?

Interested in local democracy?

This footage from the 2006 Local Democracy Convention is for you! Short video clips are available for viewing on YouTube, and full length, edited DVDs documenting the major panels, keynote talk, and some workshops are available for order from Liberty Tree.

To order a DVD, please send a check for $10 (postage included) to Liberty Tree, P.O. Box 260217, Madison, Wisconsin 53726-0217.

Check out the following 3-8 minute video clips online:

Keynoter: Gar Alperovitz 05:57

Additional Information: 

Thank you to On the Earth Productions (Karen Chin, Todd Price, Ginger Price, Sarah Grace Turner), Brazen Video (Luciano), and WYOU Community Cable (Eric Allin) for their filming and editing help.

The Local Democracy Convention took place September 27-October 1, 2006, in Madison, Wisconsin. For more information on the convention, see http://www.LocalDemocracy.org

For more information on Liberty Tree's Local Democracy Program, click here.

Participatory Budgeting: From Porto Alegre, Brazil to the U.S.

September 1, 2006
Mike Menser and Juscha Robinson

Throughout the U.S. left, but in particular among those groups participating at the first U.S. Social Forum and the global justice movement more generally, “participatory democracy” is a phrase one encounters in all kinds of different movements and organizations, from anti-war meetings and environmental justice organizations, to direct action affinity groups, to community-sponsored agriculture outfits, international solidarity organizations and prison abolitionists. It is certainly a central feature of the solidarity economy.

Additional Information: 

DOBBIN: Rebuilding democracy, from the community up

April 19, 2010
Murray Dobbin

As many writers and activists have declared for some time now, Canadians -- and citizens in all English-speaking developed countries -- are facing a crisis in democracy. Another way of putting it is that we face a democratic deficit. That term harkens back to a book written 35 years ago called the Crisis in Democracy, commissioned by the Trilateral Commission (TLC), an international neo-liberal forum of CEOs, former and current heads of state and free market academics. The crisis they were talking about was different. As Samuel Huntington, a prominent American neo-liberal wrote in the book, there was "an excess of democracy." Too many people were asking governments for too many things -- and, even more dangerous, beginning to believe they were entitled to them.

More Info: 

Original article here...

State Preemption of Community Cable

From: 
Hear Us Now Consumers Union
What's happening: 

" Telephone and cable companies want to dominate Internet connections to the home. If they get state legislatures to help them block competition, like they just did in Pennsylvania, these companies would no longer have an important incentive to build their networks to connect the underserved.

Help support community wireless networks by taking action in your state. Find your state below and take action now! 


If you live in:

AL, AK, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MO, MN, MS, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NV, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, RI, SC, SD, TN, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV or WY . . .

Your state is in jeopardy of creating roadblocks to community wireless networks."

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