This guide is updated periodically, adding new resources that can help you keep informed. Most recent update: September 7, 2018. After a listing of blog resources, we present a list of great books for you or for gifts to those you love.
Progressive Online Media You Can Trust
So much fake news and so much pablum. Retake is in the process of undertaking a massive review of the media to assemble an inventory of publications you can trust and organize them into issue areas, creating a useful inventory of resources. This is a page that will grow and become more robust.
Blogs to Grow With
The following blogs are resources I subscribe to and are the source of many blogs. Each is described briefly and most will not want to subscribe to them all, but each, in its way, produce excellent case studies that exemplify a new way of thinking, planning and doing. They each contribute to a better and better understanding of what a more equitable future could look like and how we may create that transition. Happy Learning. Some of these sources post blogs daily and others rarely. I have noted the ones I get daily and those I find most helpful. The first five blogs are ones that I subscribe to and read daily.
Next City. Next City is perhaps my best resource for new and innovative approaches to urban innovation focused on equity and justice. They provide a daily post that includes 3-4 different headlines and one sentence intros to a range of topics from community land trusts, worker owned cooperatives, climate change transition models, etc. Can’t recommend highly enough. Click here.
Resilience. Very similar to Next City, but they have some options in subscribing to a weekly blog and to specific topics. I review this every single day. Great resource. I am providing the link to the subscription page so you can see your options for a daily subscription and/or weekly subscriptions to specific topics like the environment, the economy, etc. Really great stuff. I subscribe to everything they offer. Click here.
Truthout. Truthout produces daily posts on a wide variety of political and social issues. It is not really a resource for new models of local or state transformation as it is just solid reporting on current events. They get beneath the surface very well. Highly recommended. Click here.
Institute for Local Self Reliance. ILSR has a variety of initiatives: Community Broadband Networks, working to help the creation of locally accountable broadband networks; Community-Scaled Economy, with goals of expanding, developing, and protecting locally owned retail businesses and promoting community banking; Energy Democracy, working to increase clean, dispersed energy generation, expand local ownership, and increase public access to energy decision making; and Waste to Wealth, specifically working to maximizing recycling, reuse and composting for economic and environmental sustainability. Click here.
The Next System Project. For those of you who realize that the US and the world badly need a radical transformation of our political and economic systems, this is an essential resource. A project of the Democracy Collaborative, the Next System Project posts articles on what that transformation could look like, as well as models in place in the US and elsewhere. Highly recommended. Click here.
Fearless Cities. I don’t get a blog from this site as it is a blog on the Municipalism movement in Spain and their posts are in Spanish. But the website has an English function (just click in the upper right corner) and it is a tremendous inventory of articles describing the Municipalism movement and how it has restored authentic local democracy in city after city in Europe. Their essential purpose: enough marches, let’s take over the local governing institutions and make law that serves the people. Much to learn here. Click here.
Democracy Collaborative. Democracy Collaborative engages with communities and institutions to connect them with innovative strategies, models and training to build community wealth in their neighborhoods. They publish a wealth of articles on all things economic, social, racial and environmental justice. And all of it is excellent. Highly recommended, but they do not blog so you’ll need to visit the website. Click here.
US Solidarity Economy Network. I have only read materials on their website, and just subscribed to the blog as I didn’t realize it sent out emails. But the website is full of tremendous articles describing an entirely different perspective on local and national economies. One premise is that some of us have too much and others far too little and we can’t ignore this forever. To sign up for this blog, you must go to the far right top menu for “get involved” Click here
Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. CELDF organizes a ‘democracy school’ for any community with the concept being that you can’t impact change if you are not organized. I will update info on this site soon after I get more familiar with it. Click here.
The Next System Pod Casts. Click here.
Books Worth a Read
This is a very partial list and we ask for your suggestions. But if you worked your way through all these books, you’d be one very well-informed progressive. For all books, we ask that you not purchase through Amazon. Please work with your local book store. Amazon sells guns, toxic chemicals, and anything anyone wants to sell, regardless of its benefit to the community or the world and treats their employees like slaves. Most local book stores employ local people and sell books and coffee; they don’t sell guns and toxics. In Santa Fe, we recommend Collected Works. 505 988-4336. 202 Galisteo St. or www.collectedworksbookstore.com where you can find out their ongoing range of events.
Before diving into analysis of current affairs, we feel it is important to provide historical context, the cultural and historical heritage we, in the 21st Century have inherited. Our past.
The People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn. An excellent starting point to unlearning what you have learned in public schools, a retelling of American history that understands that history through a lens of racism, sexism, colonization, capitalist greed and immense hubris.
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. An excellent primer on the history of US colonization from the perspective of indigenous peoples.
The Other America, Michael Harrington. Perhaps more than any book in the late 20th century, this book showed us how the other half lived, the communities of color, the largely white rural poor.
The Public Bank Solution. Ellen Brown. This book is a must read, as it lays out very clearly how a public bank could enable a state or large city to manage its own financial resources, ensure that those reserves are invested in local community development efforts and vastly reduce the costs of bond measures to rebuild infrastructure or to support other public investments. A public bank would keep a city or state’s revenues at work in their community rather than being shipped off to risky, speculative investments by multinational banks that have no interest in anything but their shareholders’ profits.
The Web of Debt. Ellen Brown. This book explains the evolution of our banking system from merchantile times to today. It is truly one of the most alarming books I’ve ever read. Everyone I’ve met who has read this book is stunned by how the banking system actually works, how it benefits only the richest of the rich and how it controls so much of what is possible in our communities, nation and throughout the world.
You can order either of these books directly from Ellen Brown, bypassing Amazon entirely. Click here to get to her website. Great books.
When They Call You a Terrorist, Patrisse Khan-Cullors. This is a memoir of the founder of Black Lives Matter. While it sprinkles in dates and data, this is far more a personal history that describes her very intimately precisely how racist policies and practices impacted her father, brother, step-father and her…and by extension all black lives. A short, easy to read book that gets you out of your head and into your heart.
The remaining books on this list are both inspirational and directive. Each, in its own way describes the urgent need for action, while pointing in the direction of what must be done.
No Is Not Enough, Naomi Klein. After outlining clearly all we must resist, Klein articulates the flip side, what we can believe in and advocate for. A very short, easily digestible read.
Demand the Impossible. Bill Ayers. Another short, accessible book that examines America today and poses bold policy and organizing ideas that, like Klein, expand our horizons of the possible and help us understand that the impossible just could be possible.
Daring Democracy, Frances Moore Lappe and Adam Eichen. This is both depressing and inspirational. Daring Democracy explains precisely how beginning in about 1970, the elite in America, really a handful of billionaires determined that the 60s could be a harbinger for change that would threaten their grip on America and the world. It describes how they have purchased our education systems, our media and our government and how with that control, how they are re-educating America to believe in the myth of capitalism and ‘free’ markets and that if you work hard, you succeed so if you don’t succeed it is your fault and deserve only pity, not help. It is unsparing, but it also provides a path to something better.
The End of Growth, Richard Heinberg. Examines the critical need to develop a new economic model that does not measure quality of life by economic growth that relies upon unnecessary consumption and that benefits only the one percent. A tremendous eye-opener.
This Changes Everything. Naomi Klein. A long read but Klein covers a good deal of ground in a brilliantly written book that explains how the intersection of social, racial, economic, indigenous and climate justice…connecting the dots…. can lead to a stronger, more unified movement and that climate change poses an urgent deadline that can animate engagement and activism. One of my all-time favorite books.
The Public Bank Solution. Ellen Brown. This book will blow your mind. First it clearly articulates the house of cards that is our banking system and the absolutely astonishing way that the big banks control so much more than we imagine. Then Brown describes very clearly how public banks at the city, state and national levels could save the public sector trillions of dollars and dedicate those funds to….us (the 99%), not them (the 1%). Required reading for anyone who lives in a community considering developing a public bank. They want you to think it is impossible. It is not.
How to Kill a City, Peter Moskowitz. Another short, accessible read that will introduce you to the causes of gentrification and its impact on low-income communities that not so coincidentally are mostly communities of color. He examines New York, Detroit, New Orleans and San Francisco. Very applicable to communities throughout the US.
No More Heroes, Jordan Flaherty. An interesting read about how privileged individuals can best support grassroots movements, not necessarily by leading and being heroes, but learning from those who have been fighting the battles for decades and following and supporting their lead.
Dark Money, Jane Mayer: The Hidden History of Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right. If you ever want to learn how we wound up in the mess we are in with the powers that be on strings pulled by the 1%, read this book.
The Shock Doctrine: There Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Klein. Klein describes in detail how the corporatocracy, the 1% and the right use terrible shocks, disasters and events of violence to advance capitalist control of just about everything. Totally groundbreaking work that explains one helluva a lot.
Don’t Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, George Lakoff. This is an essential guide to progressive conversation and communication whether you are talking with a neighbor or family member, writing a letter to the editor, or testifying at your City Council. Lakoff explains how the right has captured how we discussed issues and how we can reclaim the higher ground.