Resources for Democracy
- News for Anarchists & Activists:
Resources for Democracy
by Rik Langendoen & Darcy O'Brien
join the dialogue
AmericaSpeaks facilitates "21st century town meetings,"
pictured above, combining face-to-face interaction with
communication technologies to allow citizen groups of
500-5000 to develop shared agreements for future action. In
July, AmericaSpeaks gathered over 4,000 New Yorkers to help
shape the redevelopment of lower Manhattan and the creation
of a permanent memorial to the victims of the September 11
From the Four Directions provides coaching, networking, and
resources for citizen leaders to start conversation circles
and connects local circles into a global force for change.
Search for Common Ground works for conflict resolution in 12
countries through methods such as mediation, facilitation,
and radio soap opera and TV production.
The Dialogue to Action Initiative is a web-based resource
center for organizers, researchers, and facilitators of
The Study Circles Resource Center helps people to engage in
dialogue and problem solving on critical social and
political issues using study circle programs. The SCRC works
with communities to improve the process for organizing
large-scale community dialogue that leads to action and
Consensual Democracy helps grassroots citizen groups
identify and achieve the civic renewal they desire through
providing community-building tools and training, workshop
facilitation, written materials and networking with other
Accurate Democracy, an e-book, offers explanations of
various democratic voting methods for elections and
meetings, a glossary of electoral concepts, and an
educational computer simulation game.
The Co-Intelligence Institute makes available innovative
practices, ideas, experiments, organizations and references
for building wiser democracies. Many of the resources
presented here were found on its Innovations in Democracy
The Democracy Collaborative sponsors programs to strengthen
democracy and community, through teach-ins, work with
citizen groups, and training teachers.
The Loka Institute works to make science and technology more
responsive to social and environmental concerns by expanding
opportunities for public-interest group, everyday citizen,
and worker involvement in science and technology
The Center for Voting and Democracy offers an online library
promoting instant runoff voting and forms of proportional
representation; provides reports on all 50 states and
information on pending legislation; and operates a full
election consulting service to help groups select and
implement electoral systems and technology for their goals.
Healthy Democracy promotes structural reforms including the
Citizens Initiative Review and the Citizen Election Forum
methods, clean elections, term limits, proportional
representation, instant runoff voting, a unicameral
legislature, and empowered deliberative democracies. Website
also provides a link to the Jefferson Center, responsible
for developing the citizen jury process.
The International Simultaneous Policy Organization proposes
a range of legislative measures to be implemented by all
nations simultaneously to regain control of global financial
markets and transnational corporations.
The National Civic League, a 107-year-old non-profit,
non-partisan organization, provides technical assistance,
training, publishing, research, and the All-America City
Awards, toward strengthening communities.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, founded to defend
civil rights activists in the Jim Crow South, is a legal and
educational organization that defends and advances
constitutional rights. Projects include litigation against
supermax prisons, defense of immigrant rights, and fighting
post-September 11 erosion of civil liberties.
expand civic literacy
Civic Practices Network exchanges best practice guides and
provides practical tools for public problem
solvingincluding manuals, a civic dictionary, and sample
course syllabi. Website map feature allows user to search
for stories, case studies, and essays by geographic region.
Campaign Finance Reform, a section on the Public Agenda
Online website, provides facts, public opinion data, policy
news updates, competing perspectives, and comprehensive
resource lists on the role of money in US elections.
Demos: A Network for Ideas and Action performs research on
state-level US democracy; builds coalitions between
activists, advocates, and scholars; and tracks legislative
developments and democratic reform efforts. Website offers
free access to Demos publications, bi-weekly e-mail issue
briefings, and an extensive links page of pro-democracy
organizations in every state.
Project Vote Smart provides information on over 13,000
elected offices and candidates locally and nationally.
Offers candidates background information, issue positions,
voting records, campaign finances, and performance
evaluations by various special interest groups; a toll-free
Voters Research Hotline; and a Young Voters Program that
allows voters to instantly compare candidates positions.
reclaim the media
FAIR, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, is a national
media watch group that offers well-documented criticism of
media bias and censorship.
The Pew Center for Civic Journalism helps print and
broadcast news organizations reconnect to their communities
and engage citizens in problem-solving dialogue and shares
the results through outreach programs.
become an activist
Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now,
conducts grassroots campaigns on voter registration and
education, election reform, and city council redistricting,
and promotes ballot initiatives to empower low and
moderateincome families. Contact David Swanson at
202-547-2500 for information about ACORN organizing in your
city or state.
MoveOn and Progressive Portal are large nationwide networks
of on-line activists providing busy citizens with
information and tools for democratic participation.
read all about it
Bridging the Class Divide and Other Lessons for Grassroots
Organizing, by Linda Stout, with an introduction by Howard
Zinn, is a moving personal story that shows how to make a
movement truly inclusive. Beacon Press, 1997
Beyond Left and Right, Breaking the Political Stalemate, by
A. Lawrence Chickering, is an attempt to find common ground
between liberals and conservatives. Institute for
Contemporary Studies, 1993
Building A Win-Win World, by Hazel Henderson, calls for a
world founded on cooperation, not domination.
By Popular Demand: Revitalizing Representative Democracy
Through Deliberative Elections, by John Gastil, tackles two
important issues--increasing political participation and
restoring trust in government--that are critical to the
future of American democracy. University of California
The Change Handbook: Group Methods for Shaping the Future,
edited by Peggy Holman and Tom Devane, details
group/organizational practices that can empower our public
life. Berrett-Koehler, 1999
Citizens as Partners: OECD Handbook on Information
Consultation and Public Participation in Policy-Making, by
the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development,
is a practical guide for informing and engaging citizens in
policy making. OECD, 2001
Collaborative Leadership: How Citizens and Civic Leaders Can
Make a Difference, by David Chrislip and Carl Larson,
discusses using collaboration to generate civic will to
solve tough community problems. Jossey-Bass, 1994
Creating a World that Works for All, by Sharif Abdullah,
presents a possible solution to the inequalities in the
world. He outlines three simple tests--for "enoughness,"
exchangeability, and common benefit--to guide people as they
transform themselves and the world. Berrett-Koehler
Creating Community Anywhere, by Carolyn Shaffer and Kristin
Anundsen, presents tools for creating community within the
many spaces we occupy. Perigee, 1993
Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy: A Book of History
& Strategies, edited by Dean Ritz and produced by the
Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD,
http://www.poclad.org ), calls citizens to take back power
from corporations. The Apex Press, 2001
Democracy at Risk, Rescuing Main Street from Wall Street, by
Jeff Gates, is a manifesto for spreading wealth and creating
a truly democratic society. Perseus Publishing, 2001
The Democracy Reader, by Sondra Myers, is a comprehensive
tool for understanding democracy and the central role that
citizens play in making democracy work. International Debate
Education Association, 2002
Doing Democracy, The MAP Model for Organizing Social
Movements, by Bill Moyer with JoAnn MacAllister, Mary Lou
Finley and Steven Soifer, shows how to build powerful change
movements that uphold values like honesty, democracy,
fairness, compassion, and protection of the environment. New
Society Publishers, 2001
The E-Democracy E-Book: Democracy is Online, by Steven
Clift, discusses the many ways telecommunications technology
affects--or could affect--democracy.
Governing is an online monthly magazine that, among other
topics related to democracy, includes a discussion regarding
consensus councils that bring together the full diversity of
stakeholders around a contentious issue to agree on
recommendations to policy-makers.
Manufacturing Consent, The Political Economy of the Mass
Media, by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, shows how the news
media defend the economic, social, and political agendas of
privileged groups. Pantheon Books, 2002
The Quickening of America, by Frances Moore Lappe and Paul
DuBois, discusses how millions of Americans are learning
"the arts of democracy," redefining self-interest, and
getting creative in their democratic citizenship.
Recreating Democracy, by Lloyd Wells and Larry Lemmel,
provides practical guidelines for citizens to create
contexts for political conversation and action. Center for
Consensual Democracy, 1998
Civic Literacy: How Informed Citizens Make Democracy Work,
by Henry Milner, examines the civil societies of various
cultures to compare the effectiveness of their democratic
institutions. Milner posits that the level of a populations
political comprehension is the single best predictor of its
level of political participation. University Press of New
A Time for Choices: Deep Dialogues for Deep Democracy, by
Michael Toms, engages a wide range of leading thinkers in an
effort to reinvigorate democracys core values of "dialogue
and dissent" in post-September 11 America. Includes
interviews with Paul Hawken, Susan Griffin, Noam Chomsky,
Joanna Macy, Vicki Robin, Anita Roddick, Thomas Moore and
others. New Society Publishers, 2002
Disobedience and Democracy: Nine Fallacies of Law and Order,
by Howard Zinn, lays out a case for civil disobedience.
South End Press, 2002
Now available: _The Unspeakable and Others_
All my fiction through 2001 and more. Intro by S.T. Joshi.
Lord Weÿrdgliffe and Necronomicon Page:
News for Anarchists & Activists:
Said Smygo, the iconoclast of Zothique: "Bear a hammer with
thee always, and break down any terminus on which is
written: 'So far shalt thou pass, but no further go.'"
--Clark Ashton Smith