Democratic Culture

Democracy is like love in this: It cannot be brought to life by others on command. ~ Sidney Hook The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers. ~ Ralph Nader Democracy is not merely legal or structural, it is a matter of art, relationships, and values. Look here for resources on democratic organizing, practice, and ideals.

Who will protect our rights?

October 12, 2016
No More Stolen Elections!

“You’ve got to go out. You’ve got to go out. And you’ve got to get your friends. And you’ve got to get everyone you know. And you got to watch your polling booths, because I hear too many stories about Pennsylvania. Certain areas. I hear too many bad stories, and we can’t lose an election because of you know what I’m talking about.”

Answer the call to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

September 14, 2016
Global Climate Convergence
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The courageous actions of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the indigenous communities, climate activists, local farmers and community members that continue to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline project in North Dakota have inspired people all over the country and the world to stand in solidarity and support. If the pipeline project is allowed to continue, it will carry dangerous fracked oil over several states and under the Missouri River - this means destruction of sacred land and water for local Native communities and a climate disaster for people and the planet. 

The radical roots of Mother’s Day

May 5, 2016
Diana Butler Bass for Huffington Post
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At first glance, Mother’s Day appears a quaint and conservative holiday, a sort of greeting card moment, honoring 1950s values, a historical throw back to old-fashioned notions of hearth and home.
Let’s correct that impression by saying: Happy Radical Mother’s Day.

U.S. peace activists refuse to pay taxes in protest of military spending

May 5, 2016
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Another year of military operations, another year of resistance: thousands are expected to show conscientious objection by not paying federal income tax.
War tax resisters in the United States are preparing for another round of civil disobedience with the deadline to pay taxes coming this week.

Watch a dramatic reading of Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation against war

May 4, 2016
Democracy Now!
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In 2009, "Democracy Now" featured an excerpt of Robert Greenwald’s short film Mother’s Day for Peace featuring a dramatic reading of Julia Ward Howe's, "Mother's Day Proclamation" by Alfre Woodard, Vanessa Williams, Ashraf Salimian, Fatma Saleh, Christine Lahti and Felicity Huffman. 

Watch the clip and read the transcript (with an intro from Gloria Steinem) by clicking here

Truthout: What Comes After Capitalism? Upcoming Teach-Ins Can Show a Way Forward

April 21, 2016
Gar Alperovitz and Ben Manski for
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An extraordinary process of change is about to explode this month on campuses and in communities across the United States. Thousands of Americans are coming together in dozens of locations to take on the question of what kind of system should replace capitalism. The process is called the Next System Teach-Ins.

Join thousands in building our future

April 19, 2016
Liberty Tree
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Building a future where people, the planet and peace are put before profit requires more than energy and activism - it requires education. Join thousands across the country later this month for the Next System Teach-Ins to study, debate and organize around the social, political and economic issues that determine what our future will look like. Teach-Ins aren’t only for students - they are a place where students, faculty, staff and community members come together in order to build tools for responding to matters of national and global importance. 

Over 100,000 flood streets of France in pro-democracy “Up All Night” protests

April 14, 2016
Lauren McCauley for Common Dreams
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A police crackdown will not deter France's burgeoning Nuit Debout (or 'Up All Night') movement that has swept across the country in recent weeks as the unifying call for change sparked protests in over 50 cities this weekend.

Berta Cáceres’ assassination, land rights and the growing criminalization of social justice leaders

April 11, 2016
Autumn Spanne
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Since her mother’s murder a month ago, Bertha Isabel Zuniga Cáceres has scarcely had time to grieve. The 25-year-old student is adamant that her mother, Berta Cáceres Flores, will not become just one more Honduran environmental activist whose work was cut short by their assassination. 

Group of kids sue Obama, federal agencies for supporting the destructive fossil fuel industry

April 11, 2016
Zoë Carpenter for The Nation
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 On Wednesday, a group of kids and teenagers will face off in an Oregon courtroom against the US government and the fossil fuel industry. The young people, from states as far away as Florida, Arizona, New York, Hawaii, and Alaska, are suing President Obama and several federal agencies for inaction on climate change.

Information about the secret financial dealings of some the world’s richest and most powerful people exposed in “The Panama Papers”

April 11, 2016
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
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A giant leak of more than 11.5 million financial and legal records exposes a system that enables crime, corruption and wrongdoing, hidden by secretive offshore companies.

South African anti-mining group continues speaking out against plans for titanium mine, calling for solidarity after assassination of founder

April 11, 2016
CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation
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On 22 March 2016, Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe (pictured), chairperson of the, Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) was assassinated at his home by two assailants who shot him eight times in the head. ACC, a South African community organisation has been subjected to sustained harassment from local authorities and a mining company, for its campaign to oppose titanium mining on the ancestral land of local communities in the pristine Eastern Cape Province. Prior to the assassination, Rhadebe had contacted other members of the organisation warning them of a hit list that his name was on.

Where will the 2017 Democracy Convention take place?

April 5, 2016
Liberty Tree Foundation
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We are excited to report that the planning process for the third Democracy Convention is moving forward and a location has been chosen!  

Corporate controlled “Itasca Project” circumvents democracy in Twin Cities decision-making

April 2, 2016
Charles P. Pierce for Esquire
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Good intentions don't justify unaccountable power.

Call me paranoid, but I found The New York Times's tale of the gnomes of Minneapolis  just a little unnerving. It certainly makes me curious about the future of democratic government.

Great American Think Off 2016 explores how income inequality threatens democracy with essay contest and debate

April 2, 2016
Great American Think-Off New York Mills Cultural Center
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With a national election right around the corner, this year the Great American Think-Off wants to know if people agree or disagree with this statement: “Income Inequality Threatens Democracy”.

Twin Cities janitors reach agreement after negotiations following 24-hour strike in February addressing wages and workload

April 2, 2016
Andy Rathburn for Twin Cities Pioneer Press
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Minneapolis-St. Paul janitors have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract following months of negotiations and a 24-hour strike last month.
The union representing about 4,000 janitors across the Twin Cities announced that an agreement on a new four-year contract was reached between janitors and their employers after a 12-hour bargaining session that ended early Monday morning.

People power - it’s what drives democracy

March 31, 2016
Liberty Tree Foundation
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People power - it’s what drives democracy. We stand in solidarity with all of the organizations and individuals proving that there is power in standing together and taking action in our communities.

Climate activists challenge using eminent domain for fracking with “Pancakes Not Pipelines” protest

March 27, 2016
Lee Ziesche for AlterNet
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Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Josh Fox (Gasland) and others from the activist group Beyond Extreme Energy were arrested today protesting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for its role in continuing to permit fossil fuel projects that will greatly accelerate climate change.

Preemption being used to block local democracy measures including minimum wage laws

March 27, 2016
The Huntington News
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August, the Birmingham, Ala. local government took a significant step toward supporting low-wage workers in the city by raising minimum wage to more than $10 from the national floor of $7.25. The move constituted a strong victory for labor rights and community activists, who had spent months rallying support and talking to lawmakers in an effort to make Birmingham the first city in the South to raise its minimum wage. By August, the decision had garnered a broad base of support that included workers, activists, city officials and a large segment of residents.

Lack of polling places and long lines punctuate reports of voter suppression in Arizona

March 26, 2016
AJ Vicens for Mother Jones
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Faith Decker, a 19-year-old sophomore at Arizona State University, got off work a little early Tuesday night so she could vote in her first-ever primary. She arrived at a church in southeast Phoenix just before 7 p.m. to find "the line wrapped completely around the corner, 300 to 400 people." After waiting in that line for more than three hours, she finally reached the check-in desk. She was told that she couldn't vote—not because the polls had closed three hours before, but because she was registered in a different county.

Montana community members stopped largest new coal mine in North America

March 26, 2016
Nick Engelfried for Waging Nonviolence
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Montana communities won a victory against one of the world’s biggest coal companies earlier this month, when Arch Coal abandoned the Otter Creek mine – the largest proposed new coal strip mine in North America. The story of how the project imploded is one of people power triumphing over a company once thought to be nearly invincible.

Teach-ins unite students, activists and visionaries from New York to Madison

March 25, 2016
Michelle Stearn for The Next System Project
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The beginning of March brought a wave of connections and developments for students, community activists, economists, and visionaries of all kinds at the Next System Project Inaugural Teach-Ins.

What's trade policy got to do with climate policy?

March 17, 2016
Liberty Tree Foundation
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The global climate crisis. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). What's trade policy got to do with climate policy? It's got the whole world to do with it.

Why the Paris Climate Agreement is all talk and no action

March 16, 2016
Oscar Reyes
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 The headlines from the Paris climate talks tell an inspiring story. Unfortunately, however, the main text of the agreement is long on rhetoric and short on action.

10 Days to Change Course: Earth Day to May Day!

February 26, 2016
Liberty Tree Foundation
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For the third consecutive year, the Global Climate Convergence is bringing together Earth Day and May Day events everywhere for a united movement for people, peace, and planet. 


Expanding the sense of the necessary and the possible

February 17, 2016
Liberty Tree Foundation
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“The major waves of teach-ins of the past 50 years have gone beyond the choir to inspire large numbers of people to expand their sense of the necessary and the possible.”

The Democratic Turn of the Century: Learning from the U.S. Democracy Movement

March 18, 2015
Ben Manski

Originally published by the journal Socialism & Democracy. Contact the author for permission to reprint.

Democracy movements arose in most regions of the globe during the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Students of social change have studied many of these movements, but, remarkably, have so far failed to look at that of the United States.

The Global Climate Strike: Why We Can't Wait

September 24, 2014
Ben Manski and Jill Stein

The following article written by Liberty Tree board members Ben Manski and Jill Stein describes an idea currently under consideration within the Global Climate Convergence process . . . (the GCC is a project of Liberty Tree).

Participatory Budgeting in NYC: Governing at the Grassroots

May 21, 2014
Mike Menser and Ron Hayduk
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Like much of the rest of the globe, New York City is beset by two crises: economic instability and the changing climate. Any hope of making our intensely unequal and unsustainable city more equitable and resilient requires fundamental changes in the relationship between the government and its people, and between the economy and its infrastructure. This requires more than a change of administrations; it requires a reconstruction of the governance process itself.

Jackson, Miss. using worker-owned cooperatives to advance economic democracy

May 17, 2014
Gracie Davie
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When Iya’Falola Omobola first crossed the Mississippi state border 10 years ago, she felt uneasy. A friend told her that she was “feeling the energy from all those bodies hanging in the trees.” Yet, Omobola’s feeling soon changed. Born into a family of civil rights and labor organizers in Cleveland, Ohio, Omobola came to see Jackson as the Phoenix that rises from the ashes.

WATCH: Ben Manski, Leland Pan, Jolie Lizotte and more on the future of student organizing

November 7, 2013
Liberty Tree Foundation

Last August hundreds of people from across the country convened in Madison, WI for the  2nd Democracy Convention.  Made up of nine individual conferences, the Convention was an extraordinary space for individuals and organizations to network with and learn from one another in the service of building a larger, more dynamic democracy movement.

Liberty Tree hosting Gar Alperovitz in Santa Barbara, CA

May 1, 2014 - 12:00pm - May 2, 2014 - 1:00pm


Santa Barbara, CA

Community Democracy: America Beyond Capitalism?

For more information visit:

A Scholar, Activist Gathering: From 1999 to 2016 and Beyond

August 21, 2016 - 6:00pm - 8:00pm


King County Labor Temple
2800 1st Street
Seattle, WA 98121
A Scholar, Activist Gathering: From 1999 to 2016 and Beyond
​​Featuring: Cindy Domingo, David Cobb, Heather Day, Rosalinda Guillen, together with​ ​Rose Brewer, Gregory Maney,​ ​Ben Manski, Charlotte Ryan,​ ​​and you.​​
​​Location: King County Labor Temple ~ 2800 1st Street, Seattle, WA​​

Support “Restore the Vote” in Minnesota

Restore the Vote is once again before Minnesota state lawmakers.  Last year, the legislation was passed by the Senate before ultimately stalling in the House.  Restore the Vote will re-enfranchise approximately 47,000 people who are currently ineligible to vote, because of a felony conviction, even though they live and work in our communities.  Current policy, which this bill would change, unnecessarily and excessively discourages positive civic participation, perpetuates racial injustice, and adds cost and complications to voting.

Restore the Vote - Minnesota
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