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Creating the World We Want: A Resource Guide

Throughout the United States and Europe, people--largely in cities--are fighting neoliberal policies in varied and creative ways. It may be by establishing worker cooperatives that create real worker equality, figuring out ways to bring sustainably raised, healthy food to urban food deserts, or constructing methodologies and platforms for advancing real democracy in communities. Many activists and ordinary people are reimagining “the city as a commons,” a new species of social practices based on ethics of participation, fairness, openness, inclusiveness, social equity, ecological respect and human rights.  In the process, new visions of what communities might look like are emerging. 


The following Resource Guide provides descriptive information and website links to progressive initiatives that are beginning to reshape many of our cities and regions here in the US and abroad.  Each listing provides a short summary of the project/article with a direct link to the website.  The information is grouped with broader background information first, followed by specific examples.  This guide is viewed as the beginning point in compiling information on relevant projects and programs occurring throughout the world, US and especially our local region.  If you would like to add a link to this Resource Guide, please email Carol Lerner at  Please include a brief description of the project/article and the website link.



General Information on Progressive Actions Shaping Our Cities/Regions


Four Perspectives on Building a New Political Order, The Nation: Four writers, in an article in The Nation, take on the question of what can be done at the state and local levels to resist the Trump administration and create profoundly new political order.  Includes an article, The City as a Common by David Bollier describing the fledgling commons movement in Europe, including the “commons collaborative economy” and an article, Toward a Democratic Ownership Society by Gar Alperovitz describing the “explosion of new forms of democratic ownership” such as worker cooperatives, community-based land trust and publicly owned broadband networks.


The Next System: The Next System Project is an initiative of the Democracy Collaborative and the ideas of Gar Alperovitz, addressing the systemic challenges the US faces now and in the future. Utilizing top researchers, theorists and activists and drawing on state-of-the-art research, the project promotes visions, models and pathways that point to a “next system.”  One such alternative institutional design is called “the pluralist economy” based on democratic co-ownership. The website contains a wealth of information, in written and video format, on topics such as community, democracy and governance, money/banking, environment/energy and many other subjects.


Progressive Agenda for States & Localities 2015: This report, written by staff at the Public Leadership Institute, is a resource for progressive elected officers and an antidote to the Koch Brothers’ ALEC.  It contains progressive policy information on such topics as civil rights and liberties, consumer protection, education, environment and smart growth, government performance, health, social services, taxation, wages and benefits and other topics.


Cities at Work:  Progressive Local Policies to Rebuild the Middle Class: Written for the Center for American Progress Action Fund, this 322 page report, views cities as the sources of most wealth and innovation in America.  “Our top 100 metros alone, which are on a mere 12 percent of our land area, are home to two-thirds of our population and account for at least three-fourths of our gross domestic product.”  Seeing well-managed cities as “key to global sustainability,” the report is an inventory of some of the good ideas for creating sustainable, transformative cities.  The report is organized topically on such subjects as “strengthen local economies and create jobs,” “invest in green and resilient infrastructure,” “raise wage and benefits standards,” etc.  There is also a shorter (74 page) “Report Summary” available.  for “Report Summary” and for full report.



The Commons Movement  


On the Commons: A comprehensive website on the commons movement in the USA but with many articles on commoning around the globe.  On the Commons provides information on how commoning works and where it is happening.  The website provides a how-to toolbox and background articles.  The organization also puts out a digital magazine, Commons Magazine, which can be subscribed to free of charge.  There are also downloadable ebooks on commons topics.  It is a good place to start to get an understanding of this growing movement.


The Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire: This website runs a blog, Green Governance: Ecological Survival, Human Rights and the Law of the Commons, written by David Bollier and Burns H. Weston.  Bollier is a historian of The Commons so he integrates its history in the blog.  He says that commoners share fundamental commitments to participation, openness, inclusiveness, social equity, ecological respect and human rights.  It provides examples of commoner projects in education, environmentalism and even in cartography.


European Alternatives: This website has an excellent short video, The Commons as a Renewed Political Force for Europe, on the 2016 European Commons Assembly.  Organizers from all over Europe came together to explore how commoners can bring the advent of political alternatives from the local to the European level and articulate joint demands for urgent political issues.  As one attendee put it, the movement needs to “stop privatization and get back to a public agenda.”  The website also has information on numerous projects occurring in Europe.


Commons Transition: This is a good source of information on European thought and practice regarding the commons movement.  There is an excellent report, The EU and the Commons:  A Commons Approach to European Knowledge Policy (available as a PDF download) which focuses on how the commons embraces knowledge as a shared resource and its management a joint responsibility and critiques the current corporate practices works against this.  They have an excellent and very recent article on the commons movement in Spain (Cities Against the Wall) evaluating where the Spanish cities (among them Madrid, Barcelona and Santiago) that electorally embraced commoner policies now stand two years after winning elections, their successes and difficulties.  There is a good article on the history of The Commons (The History and Evolution of The Commons).


The Commons Network: The Commons Network is a Berlin- and Brussels-based think tank that works on a local, national and European level working to create political will and institutions that favor the common good needs.  The Commons Network publishes articles and reports with titles such as EU Research Policy for Peace, People and Planet, Public Return on Public Spending:  H2020 needs strong public interest, conditions and incentives and TTIP and Affordable Medicines:  How TTIP may obstruct progress towards affordable medicine.


The City as a Commons: From Flint to Italy: This article, by Jay Walljasper, provides an excellent overview of how the commons approach can transform cities.  The article gives concrete examples of how commoner principles are being applied in cities in both the US and abroad.


Buffalo--The Neighborhood as Commons:  Reframing the Problem of Neighborhood Decline: This paper, by Ronald J. Oakerson and Jeremy D. W. Clifton,  describes how principles from the commons movement were successfully used to organize an urban neighborhood in Buffalo, NY to fight disinvestment that had resulted in neighborhood decline, rising crime, etc.  The article describes how the commons approach of identifying the community’s natural leaders and helping them create block clubs worked.  “People take action when they feel ownership, but not necessarily home ownership but ownership of the street where they live,” Clifton stated.   Link: 


Brooklyn—596 Acres:  The organization, 596 Acres, developed when its founder Paula Z. Segal obtained a spreadsheet of publicly owned vacant land in Brooklyn that came to 596 acres, creating a map of the land and its locations for distribution in the community.    The organization builds tools to help neighbors see vacant lots as opportunities to create needed green, public spaces that can become focal points for community organizing and civic engagement.  It has expanded its mission to include urban renewal both in terms of cataloging renewal plans and in collective investment into select real estate development through the NYC Real Estate Investment Cooperative, which the group incubated.  They have now become a resource for land use all over the world.  Link:


Barcelona--A Democratic Revolution Underway in Barcelona:  Barcelona en Comú: This article by Jordi Mir Garcia details the political transformation occurring in Barcelona when the candidate running on a citizen platform Barcelona en Comú (Barcelona in Common) won the election and the role of the diverse 15M Plaza occupations as a galvanizing horizontal movement.



Democracy Platforms to Increase Citizen Participation


The City as Platform:  How Digital Networks are Changing Urban Life and Governance, The Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program: This comprehensive, 60 page report, is the product of a 30-person Roundtable discussion in 2015 on the impact of networks and networking on cities.  The author, David Bollier, captured the essence of the group discussion.  The Roundtable found that the best way for cities to think of themselves going forward in this atmosphere is as a platform.  This way cities can leverage digital and network technologies tapping the expertise of its many citizens and stakeholders, to work for solutions to urban problems, co-create new activities and engage citizens more directly in the city’s work and play.  City governments can use open data, crowdsourcing and urban prototyping to enhance both government services and enjoyment of local life in the city.  The report focuses on the solutions that digital technologies has created but also the problems including rising inequality among citizens and the impact of automation and artificial intelligence.


Inspiring Examples of Citizen Participation, We ThinQ: Provides a list of projects with website links throughout the world that demonstrates the use of digital platforms to increase citizen participation.  Also, provides Community Planning/Engagement Tools with website links.


Guide Citizen Dialogue—for Viable Ideas, We ThinQ:  A primer in question and answer format on citizen participation and where digital platforms fit into this.


CitizenLab—Democracy for the Digital Age: CitizenLab is a customized civic engagement platform on which citizens co-create their city using citizen friendly software.  CitizenLab is committed to helping citizens have their voice heard, and making governments better understand their citizens. 


The Next Wave of Digital Democracy: A short article that provides an overview on the use of digital platforms to enhance citizen engagement.  Makes the point that digital platforms and virtual convening could be transformative in terms of citizen engagement, as long as it makes provision for digital inclusion and reaches out to those who are less likely to use the internet. 



Power to the People:  How Cities Can Use Digital Technology to Engage and Empower Citizens, Nesta: On the Nesta website, this article gives a balanced view of digital platforms and some down to earth guidance of pitfalls to avoid, such as building an app. The author suggests using open source technologies.  It also includes information on better decision making.


Barcelona--Barcelona’s Decidim: An Open-Source Platform for Participatory Democracy Platforms: The name of Barcelona’s digital infrastructure for participatory democracy is Decidim which means “we decide” in Catalan and the Decidim platform is viewed as key in the digital transformation that is taking place in Barcelona. The Barcelona City Council hopes that technology can improve democratic participation and foster good government.  Barcelona has shown some early successes with this open-source platform.  The city council hosted several organizing events to decide on a strategic plan and nearly 40,000 people and 1,500 organizations contributed 10,000 suggestions.  Barcelona is engaging in extensive training of the population to lessen barriers of usage.



Participatory Budgeting Project:  The Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP) is a nonprofit organization, based in Brooklyn, Chicago and Oakland, that empowers people to decide together how to spend public money, primarily in the US and Canada.  Since 2009, PBP has supported dozens of governments, public institutions, and organization in launching and deepening participatory budgeting processes.  The support ranges from technical assistance to fully implementing a participatory budgeting process.  A listing of governments and institutions that PBP has assisted is listed on its website.  The website also gives guidance on the process of participatory budgeting and includes an Implementation Manual


15 Participatory Budgeting Projects that Give Power to the People, Shareable: This website provides a listing of 15 projects from around the world that demonstrate the potential of the PB process.  The Shareable website provides a guide, How to Start Participatory Budgeting in Your City. Link: 



Worker Cooperatives


Democracy at Work: Democracy at Work is a non-profit organization, founded by economist, Richard D. Wolff, that advocates for worker self-directed enterprises (worker cooperatives) and democratic workplaces as a key path to a stronger, democratic economic system. The organization is based on Wolff’s book, Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism, which puts forward the idea of a future where workers at every level of their offices, stores, and factories have equal voices in the direction of their enterprise and its impact within their community and society at large.  It lists its supporting partners as The Lannan Foundation and Truthout.  Its coop partner is listed as Loomio. The website provides basic information in English, Spanish, Italian and German.  It provides monthly podcasts and streams short videos on Workers Independent News (WIN). Coop Talk in a news blog that provides information on worker-owned cooperatives.  Richard Wolff is a regular contributor to Truthout.


Loomio: Loomio is open source software that provides decision-making tools for groups who want to collaborate democratically.  It originally grew out of the intersection of activists from the Occupy movement and entrepreneurs from Enspiral. Loomio, based in New Zealand, is a worker cooperative that wants to show the world that it is possible to do  a startup differently, with no bosses, driven by pro-social values and with true collective ownership. Loomio has developed a Co-Op Handbook ( that uses open source software and gives step-by-step instructions on establishing a worker cooperative.


Community Wealth: A US-based comprehensive website on worker cooperatives, it provides information and tools on worker cooperatives including models and best practices, research resources, articles and publications and support organizations.  It not only has links to specific worker cooperatives in the US, it also has links to other types of cooperative movements such as Community Development Corporations, Community Development Financial Institutions, Community Land Trusts, Employee Stock Ownership Plans, Green Economy Impact Investing, Local Food Enterprises, Transit Oriented Development and University Community Partnerships.


United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives: This is a membership organization at present consisting of 160 businesses and organizations representing 3000 workers. They provide advocacy services and work for public policies that support worker cooperatives on a federal, state and local level. The USFWC engages in community building and networking for member organizations and work toward equitable healthcare for cooperative workers.


Grassroots Economic Organizing (GEO): GEO is a decentralized collective of educators, researchers and grassroots activists working to promote an economy based on democratic participation, worker and community ownership, social and economic justice and ecological sustainability—what they call a “solidarity economy.”  They edit and print a bi-monthly newsletter, providing news, analysis and an open forum on grassroots organizing to build and finance worker- and community-owned enterprises and organizations.


CECOP-CICOPA Europe: It is the European confederation of industrial and service cooperatives with 27 affiliate members in 50,000 enterprises employing 1.3 million workers.  The website provides information and news articles on European worker cooperatives including articles on government aid that is available to assist in forming worker cooperatives.


Worker Cooperatives are More Productive than Normal Companies: This article in The Nation by Michelle Chen provides an overview of worker cooperatives in Europe and the US and predicts that this model may have competitive advantages in the future, particularly “as our world crumbles around us.”


Economic Prosperity and Economic Democracy: The Worker Co-Op Solution: This  Truthout Op-Ed article by Richard D. Wolff describes his model for worker cooperatives called workers self-directed enterprises (WSDEs) as a “new vision of an alternative to capitalism that could help to mobilize a new left.”  He describes how WSDEs would radically change workplaces and residential communities.  


New York City--Green Worker Cooperatives: Green Worker Cooperatives is a South-Bronx-based organization dedicated to incubating worker-owned green businesses in order to build a strong local economy rooted in democracy and environmental justice.  The organization trains and develops worker cooperatives that have a positive environmental impact.  They have helped incubate cooperatives in a wide range of industries including catering services (B. Blossom Caters), cleaning services (Bio Classic Cleaning), doula/birth and family services (Uptown Village and Ginger Moon,), Technology Training and Consulting Services (Bits and Bites Tech Cooperative), etc.


Cleveland—The Evergreen Cooperative Initiative: The Evergreen Cooperative Initiative works to create living-wage jobs in six low-income neighborhoods by creating new businesses owned by their employees.  It was launched in 2008 by a working group of Cleveland-based institutions including the Cleveland Foundation, the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve University and the municipal government.  It is a model gaining national and even international attention as it seeks to heal neglected post-industrial economies.  The worker-owned cooperatives operating under the Evergreen Cooperative Corporation umbrella include:  Evergreen Energy Solutions (LED lighting system, solar power and other energy efficient solutions), Green City Growers (greenhouse-based growers producing sustainably grown lettuce, gourmet greens and herbs) and Evergreen Cooperative Laundry (sanitary and energy-efficient laundry operation providing lines to healthcare, hospitality and hotel industries).


Baltimore—Baltimore Bicycle Works: Baltimore Bicycle Works is a worker owned and democratically operated bicycle shop established in 2008.  They sell and repair bikes and pride themselves on exceptional customer service, a value the owners attribute to the collective ownership of the business.  The cooperative has strong ties to the Baltimore biking community and the City as a whole.


Bellingham, Washington State—Circle of Life Caregiver Cooperative: It is a worker-owned cooperative business, licensed by Washington State Dept. of Health, to provide in-home personal and home care services for elders and persons with disabilities.  Operating since, 2009, the business has experienced steady growth and now has over 50 caregivers in the cooperative.  Full time worker are paid $13.25 minimum wages (considerably higher than typical caregiver wages) but, in addition, when part of the cooperative, workers receive a share of the business profits as dividends.


Bay Area, California—Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives: This is a grouping of worker-owned cooperatives in the Bay Area, mostly bakeries specializing in morning pastries, artisan breads and gourmet pizza.  They got their start over 40 years ago at Berkeley’s Cheeseboard Collective store, Cheeseboard, a cheese shop that opened in 1967 but was sold to their employees in 1971.  Since then they expanded in size and products and helped to establish the Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives in 1996.  There are now seven businesses in the collective with Arizmendi bakeries scattered throughout the Bay area.  Their mission statement states that it “assure opportunities for workers’ control of their livelihood with fairness and equality for all” and ensures workers receive “decently paid (living wage or better) work.”


Brooklyn—Radix Media Printing & Publishing: This is New York City’s only worker-owned, union print shop. It was established in 2013 with the merger of two small print shops organized on a cooperative model.  Since then, the cooperative merged with a third shot specializing in letterpress and design.


Spain—Mondragon Corporation: Mondragon is the largest and most well-known company using the worker cooperative model.  It was founded in the town of Mondragon in 1956 by graduates of a local technical college and has since become the tenth-largest Spanish company and the leading business in the Basque Country.  By 2015, it employed 74,335 workers in 257 companies and organizations specializing in finance, industry, retail and knowledge.  There was considerable press on the company when one of Mondragon’s companies filed for bankruptcy in 2013.  Richard Wolff wrote an opinion piece, Yes, There is an Alternative to Capitalism: Mondragon Shows the Way, in which he describes how Mondragon is living proof that there is an alternative to the current broken system of vast inequality.


Tampa—Democracy at Work: Democracy at Work is a non-profit organization that conceives, creates and distributes media aimed at demonstrating why, and how, democratizing the workplace is a viable solution for a new and better economic system.  The organization sees worker self-directed enterprises (WSDEs) as a key in creating an alternative to the current model of capitalism.  Based on the work of economist, Professor Richard D. Wolff, the Tampa chapter of Democracy at Work is working towards bringing WSDEs to the Tampa Bay region.


Public Banking


A Bank Even a Socialist Could Love:  In These Times describes how the fight for public banking is gaining ground in cities and states across the country.  The idea is not new; North Dakota has had a public bank since 1919 when the prairie populists known as the Nonpartisan League took control of the state government.  It works with local banks to support loans on infrastructure and other projects that are too big for the local banks. The Bank of North Dakota also handles student loans.  During the recent financial crisis, not a single ND bank failed.  The beauty of a public bank is that the bank can charge low interest rates but any income earned stays with the state.  While there has been resistance from some state and city legislative bodies to public banking and opposition from Wall Street and the financial community in general, there is growing interest and action.  Philadelphia is working on a public banking plan and the leading candidate for New Jersey’s gubernatorial race, Phil Murphy has made public banking a key part of his platform.


Public Banking Institute: The Public Banking Institute is the best and most comprehensive website for information and news on public banking.  The Institute was established in 2010 by Ellen Brown, an attorney and author of Web of Debt, after researching alternatives in the banking/financial sector following the 2008 great recession.  There is an excellent video tutorial, An Introduction to Public Banking, on public banking which can be found under the “Learn” tab.


What a State-Owned Bank Can Do for New Jersey: This article, published on Truthout, focuses on how Phil Murphy, the leading Democratic candidate for governor of New Jersey, has made a state-owned bank a centerpiece of his campaign.  The author, Ellen Brown, the leading authority on public banking, describes how NJ will be able to cut infrastructure costs roughly in half, since 50 percent of the cost of infrastructure, on average, is financing.



Sustainable Food Production


The Nation Special Issue, The Future of Food:  Setting the Table for the Next Generation, October 30, 2017: A comprehensive issue with a wide range of articles on food and food production, The Future of Food issue is worth reading.  The series begins with these words: It’s a time of deep uncertainty at every link in the global food chain. The first article, The Future of Food, poses the following question: So how do we get to a more equitable and sustainable food system? This forum discusses the elimination of tipping in the restaurant industry substituting a fair wage; the problems with fair trade, family farming; small scale farming and GMOs. Another article discusses a new grain, kernza,, with the taste of a cereal but the habits of a prairie grass which could be part of a revolution to save soil and fight climate change.  Another article, Mass Exposure, details the possible dangers of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup. There are other equally important articles.


Sustainable Table: Sustainable Table is the leading sustainable food resource for consumers, providing detailed information about food-related issues and works to build community through food. It provides up-to-date information on food issues, educational videos, a “Ecocentric” blog and an online directory of farms, stores and restaurants. It is a program of GRACE Communications Foundation.


Local Harvest: An excellent resource on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) where a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public for a set price and in turn provides the consumer with seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. The website provides a listing of farms and farmers markets throughout the US.


Urban Farming: The mission of Urban Farming is to create an abundance of food for people in need by supporting and encouraging the establishment of gardens on unused land and space while increasing diversity, raising awareness for health and wellness, and inspiring and educating youth, adults and seniors to create an economically sustainable system to uplift communities around the world.  Urban Farming has launched a campaign to create a Movement to Create and Abundance of Food for All in Our Generation through the Urban Farming 100 Million Families and Friends Global Campaign. These campaigns are intended to create a paradigm shift in the way our world approaches food security and financial security.  It has also launched the Urban Farming 100 Million Families and Friends Global Campaign to encourage 100 million people to plant and register their gardens.  Urban farming features online, interactive educational forums that raise awareness about the emerging industries, green businesses, green collar job training opportunities and job placement opportunities.  


United States Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Library—Community Supported Agriculture: An excellent source of background information on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), including the history of the movement, marketing information, statistical information, and other resources. Link:


Permaculture Institute: The Permaculture Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of Permaculture which is a design discipline based on a set of ethics and the foundational principles of the natural world. Permaculturists apply what they learn from nature and traditional land based cultures to the human environment, developing ways to ecologically produce food, create shelter, store water, design economic and governance systems, and meet human needs via informed ecological design.  Founded in 1997, the Institute’s work focuses on education, demonstration, and training the next environmental and social change makers. The Institute, based in Santa Fe, NM, offers courses in Permaculture Design and a Diploma of Permaculture Design.  It also offers Teacher Training Retreats. 


Tampa--Sweetwater Organic Community Farm: Established in 1995 as a nonprofit community-supported urban organic farm ad environmental education center in Tampa, FL, Sweetwater operates as a Community Supported Agriculture program offering fresh organic produce for membership.  It offers a broad education program including workshops, farm tours ad volunteering.  It offers a Sunday Market, open to the public, on Sundays from noon to 4 pm during harvest season (October 15 to May 20).


Slow Food USA: Slow Food USA is part of the global Slow Food movement which connects the pleasures of the table with a commitment to the communities, cultures, knowledge, and environment that make this pleasure possible.  There are more than 150 local chapters and 6000 members and internationally, the movement is occurring in more than 160 countries.  Their values are based on the idea that a food system should be good, clean and fair to  Sarasota has a Slow Food Meetup group, Slow Food Greater Sarasota.


Bradenton—Geraldson Community Farm: A Community Supported Agriculture program, Geradson Community Farm sells shares to the public for organic vegetables in the growing season.  It offers a training facility for new farmers through an apprenticeship program in sustainable agriculture.  It also offers a learning environment for school groups and the community.  It participates in the Phillippi Creak Farmhouse Market on Wednesdays and the Bradenton Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.


Sarasota—Transition Sarasota: Transition Sarasota is dedicated to shifting food consumption to local sources, supporting local businesses and farmers and eradicating food scarcity in our community. The bulk of Transition Sarasota’s work focuses on revitalizing Sarasota’s local food system. It operates the Suncoast Gleaning Project which harvests surplus produce from local farms for the food insecure in the Sarasota community. Since 2010, it has donated 247,588 pounds of organic fruits and vegetables. It also organizes Sarasota’s annual 10-day Eat Local Week every October that features a mix of local food dinners and tastings, tours of local farms and food operations and educational events covering a range of topics from urban gardening to nutrition.


Sarasota—The Permaculture Guild: The Sarasota Permaculture and Transition Meetup is a forum open to all interested parties to learn about and to implement permaculture design concepts. The organization operates a message board on this site. One listing, for example, was about an Intensive Permaculture Design Course, at a Permaculture Farm in Brooksville, FL, about 20 minutes north of Tampa. Link:



Environmental Sustainability/Climate Change mission is to be the most reliable and expansive advocate for environmental science education and careers.  It provides information and resources on environmental science degree programs and careers.


Nature Climate Change: A division of Nature Research, which publishes Nature Magazine and Scientific American and other publications.  Nature Climate Change compiles information on climate change throughout the world.  It contains both scholarly articles and breaking news and comment. Link:


Union of Concerned Scientists: This nonprofit consists of scientists, engineers and analysts who develop and implement innovative, practical solution to some of our planet’s pressing problems including solutions for combating global warming. There are excellent graphics on seal level rise and global warming.


Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact:  Composed of Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach Counties, this compact formed in January 2010 to coordinate mitigation and adaptation activities across county lines. It allows local governments to set the agenda for adaptation while providing an efficient means for state and federal agencies to engage with technical assistance and support.  The Compact is widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading examples of regional-scale climate action.  Link:


Urgency and Action; Mitigating Climate Change/Florida Veterans for Common Sense:  

This is a 2017 update to an earlier report by the Environmental Working Group of Florida Veterans for Common Sense.  The report raises the alarm:  “Time is running out; the situation is urgent.”  It cites the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions including severe food shortage; an accelerating rise of the sea; extreme heat waves, droughts and floods; a large-scale extinction of plants and animals; and a disruption of national security.  But it says there is hope because the world has the technology and know-how to meet the challenge. The report lays out a “practical and concrete action plan.”


Miami--The CLEO Institute: A non-profit organization, based in Miami, FL, solely dedicated to climate change education and advocacy. CLEO works directly with climate scientists to keep up with the most current data and projections. It educates communities to better understand the climate science, seriousness and solutions. It trains local individuals to be effective climate communicators. Finally it partners with local, regional and national organization to inform and engage diverse communities.

Florida Sustainability: Florida Sustainability is a sustainable news, trends and media website. It provides the public with the latest breaking stories and videos straight from leading industry experts. Link:


Sierra Club, Florida Chapter and Manatee/Sarasota Chapter: The Florida Chapter of the Sierra Club coordinates the work of 16 local groups in Florida, with the Manatee/Sarasota Sierra Club being one of them. The Sierra Club in Florida does extensive legislative lobbing in Tallahassee and across the state. From nutrient pollution in Florida’s springs and water bodies to phosphate mining, fracking, protecting wildlife and land conservation, the Sierra Club Florida fights for the future and health of Florida and its residents. It publishes the Florida Report and The Pelican. The Sierra Club launched the ‘Ready for 100’ campaign for 100 percent renewable energy.


Manatee/Sarasota Link:


Climate Council of Sarasota-Manatee: This is a facilitated network of experts and practitioners set up by the Science and Environment Council to work on climate change issues in the Sarasota Manatee Region. The group will work collaboratively to advance regional understandings of climate change through science and education and translate those understandings into planning and projects. It will work collaboratively with other organization to support information sharing.


Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium: Located here in Sarasota, Mote, a private nonprofit, is one of the leading research facilities in marine science. Mote describes itself as “an independent marine research institution comprised of world-class marine scientists committed to the belief that the conservation and sustainable use of our oceans begins with research and education.” Mote today has more than 200 staff members and more than 30 Ph.D scientists.


Suncoast Waterkeeper: Part of a national organization, Waterkeeper Alliance, founded in 1999 by author and activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the Suncoast Waterkeeper includes the coastal areas of Manatee, Sarasota, and Northern Charlotte Counties. The major water bodies include the Sarasota Bay, Lower Tampa and Terra Ceia Bays, the Manatee River, and Charlotte Harbor.


Sarasota Climate Justice Coalition: A coalition of community, faith and student groups, the Sarasota Climate Justice Coalition is working together to promote climate solutions grounded in resiliency and equity. The Coalition was key in getting the City of Sarasota to commit to the Ready for 100 campaign (100% renewable energy).


Sarasota City Commission Joins Sierra Club’s ‘Ready for 100’ Campaign toward 100 Percent Renewable Energy Sources, Florida Sustainability: Article describes the unanimous approval of two national climate impact reduction initiatives:  the Sierra Club’s ‘Ready for 100’ campaign to transition to 100 percent renewable energy sources, and the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda to pursue the goals of the Paris climate agreement. The Sustainability Manager of Sarasota said that “we’re ahead of the curve with many of the objectives.”


Sarasota Green City: The official sustainability website for the City of Sarasota, describes the actions taken by the City on sustainability, and particularly as it effects climate change. It includes the announcement that the Sarasota City Commission signed a resolution that commits to 100 percent renewable energy community-wide by 2045 and 100 percent for municipal operations by 2035, with 50% by 2024. The City of Sarasota is piloting a new, innovative approach to make seawalls more environmentally friendly, called the Living Seawall.


Sarasota-Bradenton Citizens’ Climate Lobby: Part of the national, nonprofit, nonpartisan Citizens’ Climate Lobby, the Sarasota-Bradenton chapter is working to create the political will for a livable world. The group is particularly focused on the passage of Carbon Free and Dividend legislation which scientists say is the “best first-step” to preventing the worst impacts of a warming world.



Renewable Energy/ Municipalizing Private Utilities


Solar Co-ops Bring Affordable Green Power to the People: This article presents an excellent overview on both consumer-owned and worker-owned cooperatives as well as purchasing cooperatives in the field of renewable energy. Examples of purchasing cooperatives, where groups of solar companies, for example, join together to support each other by sharing best practices and pooling buying power, the leading example being Georgia-based Amicus. Consumer-owned solar cooperatives, owned by the people who buy the goods or use the services, include the Washington, DC-based Mt. Pleasant Solar Cooperative of over 300 households.


Solar United Neighbors (SUN): Their website describes themselves as the “only organization in the country dedicated to representing the needs and interests of solar owners and supports.”  SUN helps people go solar, join together and fight for their energy rights. Established in 2007, starting as the Mt. Pleasant Solar Cooperative in Washington, DC, and after its success in Mt. Pleasant, it spread to other DC neighborhoods and then to neighboring states in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. In 2016, it added programs in Ohio and Florida and in 2017, in Minnesota, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The organization helps people go solar individually and through solar co-ops. The organization also educates the public, engages in extensive media work and works towards protecting solar rights and fighting for fair, distributed energy systems that benefit everyone.”  For information on Florida see


Cities Weigh Taking Over From Private Utilities: This article in the March 13, 2013 gives a good overview of the renewed interest in taking over the electricity business from private utilities, often citing concerns about climate change, responses to power disruptions and a desire to add more renewable energy into the grid. It discusses the private utilities resistance to this movement. Researchers have found that customers pay less for more reliable service and in cases of major storm-related disruptions have a better track record in restoring power.



Publicly Owned Broadband


Community Networks: This website provides resources for those joining the movement to build broadband networks that are directly accountable to the communities they serve. It provides case studies, fact sheets and videos to help interested parties make decisions about community owned networks.


Publicly Owned Broadband Networks: Averting the Looming Broadband Monopoly: This report, prepared by Community Networks (see above) of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, gives an overview of where publically owned broadband stands with 54 cities owning citywide fiber networks and another 79 owning citywide cable networks delivering telecommunications networks to over 3 million people.. The report provides a community broadband map plotting out the location of these community-owned networks. The report also details the power of the telecommunication companies to thwart these publicly owned networks and the refusal of Congress to protect the right of communities to build the networks. Link:


These Cities Build Cheap, Fast, Community-Owned Broadband. Here’s What Net Neutrality Means for Them: This Yes! Magazine article describes the struggle all over the US on local community-owned internet networks and net neutrality. The author poses the critical question: Who will control this critical technology, the nation’s largest corporations or the American people? The political fight, particularly surrounding the FCC, is highlighted.



Open Scientific Research


Center for Open Science: The mission of the Center for Open Science (COS) is to increase openness, integrity, and reproducibility of research. Located in Charlottesville, VA, COS, a non-profit, was established in 2013, with a small team, and has grown to a staff of 50. It has developed an Open Science Framework hosting more than 74,000 projects and 7,200 registrations.  The COS has developed a strategic plan which can be accessed on their website.


The Value of the Open Science Movement: This article, published on Phys.Org, gives a brief summary of why the open science movement is valuable both for the public and for scientists. It is a movement based on sharing and inclusion, collaboration and decentralization, and transparency. By fully opening research work, it can be made useful to everyone:  to scientists, industry, and members of civil society. To do this, firstly, all scientific publication must be made accessible free of charge. Secondly, raw data must not be viewed as owned by the scientist (or institution, corporation). Thirdly, there also needs to be the precise disclosure of the methodology used in acquiring it.


Open Science—OECD: The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development published a paper that provides an overview of recent developments in OECD countries that encourage data sharing and the development of digital infrastructures.  A chart is provided that presents recent policy measures taken by OECD and some non-OECD countries to promote open science.  



Fab Lab Networks


United States FABLAB Network: The US Fab Lab Network (USFLN) is a connected network of fab Labs which exchange knowledge, ideas and resources to collectively empower people of all ages and backgrounds to experiment and invent new products to solve real world problems at local, national and global levels. USFLN envisions Fab Labs as advancing interest and participation in science and technology careers; collectively create a new generation of entrepreneurs, inventors and artisans; and proactively reunites education and training, art and the artisan, industrial production and personal expression nation-wide—all contributing to the resurgence of American innovation.


Fab Foundation: This foundation was formed in 2009 by MIT to facilitate and support the growth of the international fab lab network. A Fab Lab provides access to the tools, the knowledge and the financial means to educate, innovate and invent using technology and digital fabrication to allow anyone to make (almost) anything. The Fab Foundation provides educational programs and services, organizational services and business program services. The website has a section that describes a Fab Lab including Mobile Fab Labs. It also describes how towns and cities can set up a Fab Lab. 


Barcelona--4/4 Fabbing & Cities: Barcelona Fab City: This article explores the relationship of fab labs with smartcities, focusing on Barcelona’s Fab Lab Barcelona (2008). The idea of a Fab Lab is to make personal production and digital manufacturing accessible and comprehensible for a wide range of people. If fully implemented a “fab city” is made up of an interconnected community of neighborhood fab labs to encourage entrepreneurship and interest in innovation. This could bring factories back to cities and  create a new industrial revolution where production methods and social bonds are transformed.  Funding would come from both the public and private sector. Eventually neighborhood resident would eventually manage the Fab Labs. There will be unique fingerprints for each city. Experts see Fab Labs as allowing cities to become truly self-sufficient creating a solution to avoid the economic and ecological disaster of the current global production system.


Barcelona--Barcelona, The Fab Lab Smart City: Article describes a model being developed by Barcelona Fab Lab theorists to define the anatomy of cities using a set of common parameters that could be used worldwide to characterize each city. This “City Protocol” aims to be a unique “city ID card.” This unique fingerprint for each city is based on several parameters like information, water, energy, mobility and production. This last area could be used as the appropriate environment to develop the FabCity.  Neighborhoods will be production clusters, as they did in the medieval age, we are in our way to a high tech medieval age, not only concentrated into the technocrat point of view, but with a high load of humanism and local needs perspective.


Panama City, FL—Millaway Institute for Entrepreneurship at Gulf Coast State College: The Millaway Institute for Entrepreneurship (MIE) is one of the most advanced Fab Labs in Florida. It was established to help area residents with inventions or products. Users of this Fab Lab can get help in prototyping ideas and designs with the Fab Lab’s 3D printers and high-end fabrication equipment. The MIE focuses on ideas that engage students at the college and contain the potential of creating local jobs.


Sarasota—Suncoast Science Center, Faulhaber Fab Lab: This Faulhaber Fab Lab, whose tagline says A fabrication lab where dreams are build, was envisioned over 10 years ago by Dr. Fritz and Ping Faulhaber who initially established a Science Learning Library. Not satisfied with a library, the scientists wanted to create a space that would bring science to life for future innovators for the community. The mission of the Fab Lab was to provide state of the art equipment, such as 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC routers, etc. to allow any person to fabricate their dreams. The library and the lab merged to form the Suncoast Science Center.  The Center offers a variety of STEAM workshops and camps as well as providing cutting-edge equipment that supplements science classrooms.



Public Art


Culture Isn’t Free: This article in Jacobin Magazine by Miranda Campbell, posits the problem that artists of all stripes—from musicians, filmmakers and writers to visual artists and actors--face the expectation that the fruits of their labor should circulate for free, both on and offline, and when revenues from creative work do trickle in, they rarely amount to a decent wage. Campbell describes artists who have become well known but are barely making it financially, saying that we’re in an era where fame does not mean fortune. Making art is often a deeply lonely and unglamorous task of tolerating oneself long enough to push something out usually within the context lacking financial security and requiring long hours of solitude. Campbell gives many examples of artists today experiencing financial difficulties despite recognition including the indie band, Grizzly Bear and British author Rupert Thompson. He describes how some artists are responding to this situation such as Tidal, a streaming service owned directly by artists, inclding Jay-Z and 15 other musicians, with the goal of returning the value proposition to music. Tidal pays the highest royalty percentage of any current music streaming service. The article reviews three important books that tackle these issues by developing new ways of thinking about the struggles of artist and broadening the focus of cultural production away from individual practitioners.


Re-Thinking Creative Economy as Radical Social Enterprise: An important article by Angela McRobbie, a British cultural theorist, who critiques the encouragement of a creative industry or a talent-led economy as cultural neo-liberalism. While seeing aspects of the tilt to creativity as positive for young people, she describes how it is used to change the nature of work, emphasizing individual success and self-employment. There is no space here for trade unions, for collectivity and solidarity, for joint decision-making, for rights and entitlements, for workplace democracy, for maternity leave or paternity leave or sickness benefits. As a result the creative sector finds itself full of young people who are burnt out, exhausted, unable to consider having children, and often self-exploiting on the basis of the ‘pleasure in work’ factor. She proposes as an antidote to this a renewal of radical social enterprise and cooperatives. Already many artists and creative people are working in communities and on social projects.


Why Public Art is Important: This article in The Dirt (the publication of the American society of Landscape Architects) by Jared Greed, quotes Penny Balkin Bach of the Philadelphia Fairmount Park Art Association as explaining the importance of public art:  It’s free. There are no tickets. People don’t have to dress up. You can view it alone or in groups. It’s open to everyone. The article also describes how community art can also create attachment to one’s community. Link:


How Arts and Culture Can Advance a Neighborhood Agenda, World Policy Blog, 6/6/2013: The author states that cultural change precedes and embodies political change. Thus fostering arts and culture in the community needs to be an essential part of a progressive agenda. Cultural policy is connected to such issues as economic stratification, racial segregation, immigration, education and community development. The author lists important aspects of a progressive cultural policy, which includes valuing neighborhood-based cultural assets, traditions and local leadership; promoting cultural and racial equity; protects public space for free speech and creative expression (including access to the internet and the airways); invests in artists, protects their rights as labor, and improves working conditions; and invests one percent of the city’s expense budget in arts and culture.


To Keep Their Artists, Cities Explore Affordable Housing: A PBS News Hour article, it explores how cities throughout the USA are trying to figure out how to fund affordable housing for artists. It gives many examples of this effort from big and small cities. 


Artspace: Artspace is a Minneapolis-based nonprofit organization that uses the tools of real estate development to create affordable places where artists can live and work. Because Artspace owns each of the projects it develops, the organization can ensure that the housing/work spaces remain affordable and accessible to artists in perpetuity. Artspace has more than 30 projects in communities nationwide including Washington DC, Chicago, New Orleans, Silver Springs (MD.) and Fort Lauderdale.  Sarasota is currently being considered (see entry below).


Sarasota--Live/Work Artist Housing for North Trail Deemed Feasible: Describes the actions of Sarasota artist and preservationist, Veronica Morgan, to bring Artspace (see above entry) house/work space for artists to Sarasota. The City and the Sarasota Alliance for Historical Preservation and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County contributed the funding necessary to bring two Artspace consultants to Sarasota to gauge community support for the project. A preliminary feasibility report released in July 2014 approved Sarasota moving forward with plans for a venture in Sarasota. Morgan sees the renovation of aging motels along the North Trail as the place for the affordable housing/artist work space. Morgan has begun the process of raising money to fund a detailed study that will cost close to $50,000. The Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County is helping to raise the funds.


Santa Barbara—The Community Arts Workshop: The need for a community arts workspace was envisioned in the 1980’s but it was only in recent years that this idea began to take shape as an evolving reality. The idea of the workshop is to provide a space where people could come together, make and see great work and spread inspiration. In 2014, working with the Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative, a lease was signed for two large building and four other spaces—the former site of a city motor pool.  This is currently being renovated and when completed will provide space for rehearsals, workshops, a gallery and performance space for community arts.


Syracuse, NY—Light Work: Light Work offers direct support to artists working in photography and related media, through residencies, publications, exhibitions, and a community-access lab facility. The lab facility is membership-based and open to anyone in the public willing to pay the fee of $150.00 for the year. It offers members a digital lab with the highest quality printing and scanning equipment, black-and-white darkroom, a lighting studio, and a lounge and library. Knowledgeable and creative staff is on hand to answer questions and help make the most of the space.

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