Politics & Social Justice Archive


Coming Soon to a (Legal) Store Near You: Marijuana?

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Is marijuana the “new beer?” A new, eye-catching advertisement from the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) emphasizes that marijuana is a safer, more desirable option than alcohol.

The ad was scheduled to air 72 times during NASCAR’s Brickyard 400 races but officials pulled it at the last minute as to protect the family-oriented audience at their event. Though many did not see the controversial ad at the races, it has spurred a heated discussion of the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana and questions about the safety of regulated substances. See the ad for yourself:

This same controversy and conversation led to the legalization of marijuana in Colorado in 2012, as well as the changing laws and policies in many other states.

The new updated and expanded edition of Marijuana is Safer reinforces the resonating message that marijuana is safer than alcohol. In addition to all the research and information in the first edition that exposes marijuana myths and reveals facts about the relative safety of the drug, this new edition includes a chapter on the Colorado victory, updates to the research that supports that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, and information so that supporters can use Colorado as a model for change.

This updated and expanded edition of Marijuana is Safer is available now and on sale for 35% off for one week (until August 12, 2013).

In 2005-2007, pro-marijuana groups in Colorado began advocating for the legalization of the use of marijuana for medical purposes. In 2009, the regulation of medical use of marijuana was written into law. From that point to the 2012 presidential election, groups such as Sensible Colorado, Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), MPP and many others started lobbying for the regulation and legalization of recreational marijuana use for all adults.

Fox, Armentano, and Tvert assert that, “The entire ‘Marijuana is safer than alcohol’ campaign had been designed for one purpose: to ensure that voters would not be afraid of cannabis when it came time to vote for its legalization…If all went according to plan, when deciding whether to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol, voters would acknowledge cannabis as a less harmful alternative to alcohol, rather than an equally or more harmful vice. They would be able to vote ‘Yes’ with confidence instead of voting ‘No’ in fear.”

The change in public attitudes, as well as the campaign message itself, helped to win the vote in Colorado in 2012, and could work elsewhere. The topic has become such a national discussion that CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta is devoting a whole documentary on it — titled “Weed” — this coming weekend.

Show your support by reading the book, sharing it with friends and helping the Marijuana is Safer Facebook page reach over one million likes to further spread the message of a safer alternative to alcohol.

Read the foreword below.

Foreword

Sustainable, Socially Responsible Start-Ups: Your Guide to Creating a Successful Food-Based Business

Monday, June 24th, 2013

It’s not uncommon for desk-chained daydreamers to spend hours thinking of quitting their jobs and pursuing their real dreams—whether those dreams involve starting a small family farm, opening a bakery, or something else entirely. But to do this you need—among other things—money. Lack of access to start-up capital deters many would-be entrepreneurs from doing the things they really want to do.

It shouldn’t be so hard for socially responsible, sustainable businesses to get their work off the ground, but unfortunately that’s often the case. Small businesses face a significant economic disadvantage in the marketplace. “Put another way, our capital markets are like a Mob-run casino,” writes Michael Shuman in the Foreword, “with the dice loaded to provide a huge edge to global business and undercut community-based businesses.”

Enter Elizabeth U. In Raising Dough, U, a social finance expert and founder of Finance for Food, lays out what you need to start a successful, socially responsible, food-based business.

“Elizabeth U has created a formidable one-stop guide to the brass tacks of building a successful sustainable food business,” writes Anna Lappe, founder of Real Food Media Projects and author of Diet for a Hot Planet. “For everyone who’s ever wanted to turn their passion for sustainable food into a thriving business, this book is for you.”

Through case studies and personal expertise, U outlines the necessary tools and options every socially responsible entrepreneur needs to be aware of before starting a business, including:

  • Different types of crowd-funding;
  • Fundraising laws;
  • Grants and other available capital options;
  • What to look for in a business partner;
  • How to choose an appropriate model; and more.

“Chances are good that you’re reading this book because you’re a farmer or local food entrepreneur looking for money,” Shuman writes in the Foreword. “Or you might be an investor looking to place your money in a local food business. Or perhaps you’re just interested in learning about how to start a food business. Or maybe you’ve just heard that this is a tremendous resource for anyone interested in local investing. Whatever your mission, prepare for a feast ahead.”

Raising Dough: The Complete Guide to Financing a Socially Responsible Food Business is available now and on sale for 35% off.

Read the Introduction below.

 

Raising Dough Introduction by Chelsea Green Publishing

Workers of the World Unite: It’s May Day!

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Most countries honor Labor Day on the first of May, but we Americans celebrate it at the end of summer, an excuse to barbecue and raise a glass to the passing season. Traditionally, May Day is not a beer and lawn chair kind of holiday, it’s a day of rallies, protests, and direct action in solidarity with the workers of the world, and a day of hope that our rights will be protected and upheld.

Workers have always been at the mercy of the owners of the factories, offices, and companies where they labor. In the often dark history of the industrial era, workers were routinely exploited, injured, and even murdered when they protested the inhumane conditions they faced each day. But when workers came together to form strong unions, they finally were able to defend themselves, at least a little bit.

Tireless labor leaders like Tony Mazzocchi fought for protection from toxic exposure, and ended up making meaningful progress toward a more humane version of capitalism. Mazzocchi’s work led to the passage of OSHA, which still regulates working conditions today. Les Leopold wrote a beautiful biography of Mazzocchi: The Man Who Hated Work But Loved Labor.

Today, labor unions are weaker than ever, and despite having won many important battles over the years, the state of worker power is eroding. Companies can easily outsource labor to more affordable markets overseas, and high unemployment makes it hard for workers to negotiate for better pay and benefits.

But there is a quiet revolution happening despite all this. Worker-owned companies are on the rise, from cooperatives that are wholly owned and operated by their workers, to gradual employee buy-out schemes like the Employee Stock Ownership Plan that Chelsea Green enacted last year.

Worker-ownership avoids the perennial conflict between labor and capital by understanding that the two can never be considered entirely apart from one another. Capital needs labor, and labor needs capital. Both need sustainability, and the only way to achieve that goal is to slow down, pay attention to place, and take care of all the people affected by the work of the company. As worker-ownership spreads, communities will be reinvigorated by increased wealth, and inequality will decrease because nobody in a company will hoard more wealth than is necessary for sustenance and encouragement. Learn more about this “next American revolution” in Gar Alperovitz’s new book, What Then Must We Do?

Are You Part of the Next American Revolution?

Monday, April 8th, 2013

In 1886 Leo Tolstoy wrote a slim pamphlet entitled What Then Must We Do? about the abject state of the peasants in his country. He wrote, “I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means—except by getting off his back.”

Gar Alperovitz has taken Tolstoy’s mysterious title for his own new book, What Then Must We Do? After all, with an economy as systemically unequal as ours, the question is still painfully relevant. Capitalism seems to have failed us, but for decades we have believed in the Thatcher-era dictum, “There Is No Alternative.” The mere mention of socialism sends politicians running for the hills, and Tea Partiers scrambling to scribble protest signs.

Alperovitz’s new book explains that, in fact, there is an alternative to corporate capitalism, one that is working to democratize the ownership of wealth, and is already taking root in some of the communities hardest hit in the recent economic crisis. This “next American revolution” is an economy based on empowered worker-owners, green jobs, and communities that can take care of themselves. In the excerpt below, Alperovitz tells the curious story of Youngstown, Ohio, a town that lost its steel mill and launched a quiet economic revolution in response.

Booklist says, “Alperovitz’s deliberately informal, conversational style makes normally rarefied economic concepts accessible to a wide audience, enhancing his inspiring message that, with the right strategies, a wholesale economic revolution is not only possible but achievable by well-organized, average citizens.”

Get the book for 35% off this week.

An Initial Way to Think About System Change: An Excerpt from What Then Must We Do? by Chelsea Green Publishing

Snapshots from the New Economy

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

The top 400 wealthiest people in America own more riches than the bottom 180 million. The system is broken. But we don’t need to look far to find a better one.

Do you shop at a food co-op? Then you’re supporting a democratically-owned corporation that works to serve its members instead of distant shareholders focused merely on quarterly profits.

Do you bank at a credit union instead of a multinational corporate behemoth like Bank of America or Wells Fargo? Then you’re contributing your savings toward loans that go to help businesses, home owners, and people like you right in your community.

When you turn on the lights, does your power come from a municipally owned utility? If you live in Jacksonville, Florida, or Seattle, Washington it does. Now, what if you and your neighbors got together to demand your utility generate renewable energy? They’d have to listen, because you are their primary stakeholders.

Do you buy King Arthur Flour, rent cars from Avis, or buy books from Chelsea Green? If you do, you’re supporting companies that are owned by their employees, which means that the profits go to the workers — in other words to the people who make them possible.

Do you own a house through a community land trust — which made that house affordable, and will make sure it stays affordable when you decide to sell it. Or do you participate in a CSA or herd share that allows you to support a local farmer while making sure you get the fresh food you want? Or maybe when a restaurant or bookstore in your town threatened to go out of business you pitched in with some cash in return for discounts on your future purchases (the Slow Money model).

In Ohio, a state ravaged by the exodus of manufacturing, yet another example of a new-economy business model is starting up. The largest worker-owned greenhouse in the state is being financed by Evergreen Cooperatives, a unique partnership between public institutions, city government, and private nonprofits. The greenhouse will sell fresh produce to the hospitals and universities in the area, cutting the carbon footprint of those goods, and bringing good, green jobs to a neighborhood that needs them.

Gar Alperovitz is the founder of the Democracy Collaborative, a key partner in the project, and Gar has long been one of the leading champions of the worker-owned shift the economy so desperately needs. Next month his book What Then Must We Do? will explain how we must democratize wealth and build a community-sustaining economy from the ground up. Sustainable businesses are already changing lives and making money flow where it’s needed most. All we need is more of them.

These businesses define success as something deeper than profit. In doing so they’re living examples of what the new economy looks like. It’s not so complicated, it’s just what happens when business comes back down to earth.

(Illustration by Adrian J. Wallace)

Happy Holidays! Save 35% with Code: CGFL12

Monday, December 17th, 2012

We continue our holiday sale this week, featuring books on the politics of sustainable living. Our political books are full of inspiring stories from the front lines of the movement to build resilient towns, and practical tools you can use to reinvigorate your own community.

Money is power, and local investment matters. Books like Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money by Woody Tasch, and Local Dollars, Local Sense by Michael Shuman show how bringing finance back home can improve the health of the soil, your local economy, and your pocketbook.

Power also comes from within. Books like our bestseller Don’t Think of an Elephant! by George Lakoff, and Get Up, Stand Up by psychologist Bruce E. Levine take the idea of politics to a personal level, and show that even the ways you think and speak affect how empowered you feel — and how much positive change you can enact in the world.

Stock up on inspiring and educational gifts for your friends and family from Chelsea Green (and don’t forget about yourself). Our books will inspire and empower you for years to come. Keep in mind that the last day for you to get holiday orders in is Thursday December 20th, as we will be closed for inventory from December 21st to January 2nd.

Happy Holidays from the Employee Owners at Chelsea Green Publishing!

P.S. Don’t forget to use the code CGFL12 when you checkout at chelseagreen.com.

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Politics & Social Justice: 

Please keep in mind that discount codes do not combine with other offers—our books already on sale

for example. Phone orders please call 800-639-4099.

Playing Nuclear Roulette in Vermont

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Vermont’s lone nuclear reactor — Entergy-owned Vermont Yankee — has been named one of the five worst reactors in the United States, according to the new book Nuclear Roulette: The Truth about the Most Dangerous Energy Source on Earth, published by Chelsea Green Publishing.

For much of the past Vermont Yankee has been the focus of ongoing state and federal regulatory investigations, legislative battles, and ongoing courtroom drama. It started running in 1972, and was recently given a 20-year operating extension by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

This coming weekend, and into next week, activists will renew their attention to the aging reactor in hopes they can finish the work of the Vermont Senate a few years ago — close down Vermont Yankee permanently.

In this new work — which we’re offering on sale this week — investigative journalist Gar Smith lists five nuclear facilities as the “worst reactors” in the United States. They were chosen because they are representative of the poor regulatory oversight that has endangered the public, and poisoned the environment. Many other nuclear power sites around the country have equally disturbing records of poor performance, emergency shutdowns, and close calls, which Smith details in ample supply in Nuclear Roulette.

“The consequences of poor regulatory oversight can be seen in the operating histories of the country’s nuclear reactors,” writes Smith in  Nuclear Roulette.

The other four reactors are: Entergy-owned Indian Point in New York; Davis-Besse in Ohio, and Diablo Canyon and San Onofre in California.

Here is the section devoted to Vermont Yankee, which also exemplifies what happens when the industry and its lapdog regulators team up against the wishes of a state’s citizens and elected officials:

Vermont Yankee: The Green Mountain State vs. the NRC

On March 10, 2011, the NRC unanimously approved a 20-year license extension for the troubled Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Within hours of the decision, three similar General Electric Mark 1 reactors were knocked off-line by an earthquake in Japan—and all three overheated and exploded. Despite the devastation in Fukushima Prefecture, the NRC stood by its decision to allow the 40-year-old Vermont Yankee plant to continue operating through 2031. Given Vermont Yankee’s history of breakdowns and cover-ups—and the fact that a reactor accident here could put more than a million Americans at risk—the watchdog group Beyond Nuclear excoriated the NRC’s decision as both “audacious” and “reckless.”

Vermonters received another jolt when it was revealed that the NRC had voted to extend Vermont Yankee’s license even though its inspectors had discovered that critical electric cables powering the plant’s safety systems had been “submerged under water for extended periods of time.”

It was not the only maintenance failure of Entergy Corp., which had acquired the plant in 2002. The company has a reputation for “buying reactors cheap and running them into the ground.” In 2004, a poorly maintained electrical system set off a large fire in the plant’s turbine building that forced an emergency shutdown. In 2007, Vermont Yankee experienced a series of maintenance problems that included the dramatic collapse of a cooling tower. A waterfall of high-pressure water burst from a ruptured cooling pipe and tore a gaping hole in the plant’s wall. Entergy was able to hide the damage—but only until a concerned employee leaked a photo of the wreckage to the press. The huge gap in the side of the building was reminiscent of the hole in the side of the Pentagon following the 9/11 attacks.

Tritium + Entergy = Perjury

During state hearings in 2009, Entergy executives were asked if radioactive tritium detected in the soil and groundwater near the reactor could have leaked from the plant. Company officials repeatedly swore under oath that this was impossible since there were no underground pipes at the plant. It was not until January 2010, after a leak of radioactive tritium was traced to a series of subsurface pipes, that Entergy changed its story. While the plant didn’t have “underground pipes,” Entergy now explained, it did have “buried pipes.”

Attorney general William Sorrell began a 17-month investigation during which Entergy’s former executive vice president Curtis Hebert admitted that the company’s statements about the pipes “could have been more accurate.” The state ordered Entergy to remove more than 300,000 gallons of radioactive water fron the soil and ground water at the reactor site, and Vermont governor Peter Shumlin demanded the plant’s closure.

There’s another waste problem at the plant: a large and potentially lethal stockpile of used fuel rods. While Fukushima’s six reactors had between 360 and 500 tons of slowly dying fuel rods on-site, the nuclear graveyard at Vermont Yankee is filled with 690 tons of dangerously radioactive waste. And the storage pools for this spent fuel lack both backup cooling systems and backup generators.

Beyond Nuclear’s “Freeze Our Fukushimas” campaign, which aims to close all 23 Mark 1 reactors in the United States, hoped to score its first victory when Vermont Yankee’s 40-year operating license expired on March 21, 2012. The odds were improved by the fact that Vermont is the only state that gives lawmakers the authority to veto a nuclear power plant. In February 2010, a month after Entergy’s tritium scandal was exposed, the Vermont Senate voted 26–4 against issuing a new “certificate of public good” that would allow Vermont Yankee to continue operating.

Entergy Sues Vermont

In April 2011, Entergy’s lawyers responded by suing the governor and the state, claiming, “We have a right to continue operation.” On January 19, 2012, federal judge Garvan Murtha ruled that only the NRC could close a nuclear plant, and therefore Entergy was entitled to its new 20-year operating license. Murtha also made it clear that the Green Mountain State was not entitled to raise any questions regarding plant safety or the prices charged for nuclear power—under federal law, only the NRC could raise such matters.

The decision alarmed Beyond Nuclear and other critics who feared the nuclear industry and the federal government were working in concert “to pre-empt a state’s right to self determination for an energy future in the public good.” Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) quickly weighed in. “If Vermont wants to move to energy efficiency and sustainable energy,” Sanders told the Burlington Free Press, “no corporation should have the right to force our state to stay tethered to an aging, problem-ridden nuclear plant.”

Eight days after the judge’s decision, Entergy refused the state’s second request to investigate the source of a tritium leak that had poisoned a drinking well on the plant’s property. On July 25, 2011, Entergy further demonstrated its disregard for due process by announcing a $60 million refueling project—an investment that would pay off only if the power plant won its extension.

Entergy’s lawyers publicly confirmed their understanding that the company still needs the permission of Vermont’s Public Service Board (a quasi-official board that oversees Vermont’s utilities) if it is to continue operating its reactors. In a responding press release, however, the state’s Department of Public Service (which represents the interests of utility customers in cases brought before the Public Service Board) cautioned, “Past experience shows Entergy cannot be taken at its word.”

In a daunting struggle that pits 600,000 Vermonters against the US government, the nuclear industry, and the NRC, the state attorney general vowed to appeal Judge Murtha’s decision—all the way to the US Supreme Court, if necessary.

“People don’t trust the NRC,” Bob Audette, a reporter for the Brattleboro Reformer told a film crew from the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR). “They think it’s the lapdog of the industry. They think it’s there basically to affirm everything the industry does. It’s too cozy with the industry.”

In another interview with the CIR, Anthony Roisman, a legal consultant for New York and Vermont, expressed his concerns with the NRC: “This regulatory agency does not regulate effectively. And until it does, there is no way that the public can have any confidence that plants, whether they are licensed or re-licensed, won’t have some catastrophic event. No one will benefit from a post-catastrophic-event hand-wringing that says, ‘Oh we should have done this and we’ll do better next time.’ The consequences are unimaginable.”

Rock the Vote — Or Rock the Boat?

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Less than one week remains before the 2012 elections. Last month we rounded up the ballot initiatives we’re most concerned about. How are these campaigns faring as the final weeks pass? Here’s a quick update on key issues important to the sustainably-minded.

THE FIGHT AGAINST GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS HEATS UP IN CALIFORNIA

The biggest issue facing homesteaders and anyone who cares about the state of agriculture today is encapsulated by California’s Proposition 37. This bill is the first serious ballot initiative ever to insist that foods containing genetically-modified organisms be clearly labeled so that consumers can choose whether or not we want to eat them.

For months, the pro-labeling cohort in California was polling way ahead of the opposition — but since the opposition is funded by big biotech corporations to the tune of millions of dollars, that overwhelming support has been eroded by misleading TV ads and even by illegal tactics such as impersonating government agencies in mailings.

Luckily, there’s still time to convince voters that the bill is important, and even if you don’t live in California you can help! Volunteer to phone bank for the issue, calling undecided voters and convincing them to vote yes on Prop 37. Find more information here.

Chelsea Green carries a number of books and DVDs on the trouble with GMOs. Author Jeffrey Smith’s books are still some of the best available, and his filmed talks are informative and inspiring. Take a look at the book Genetic Roulette, the DVD of the same name, and Seeds of Deception.

Coming next spring, Steven Druker’s new book Altered Genes, Twisted Truth will be another great resource for the movement. Currently, the first eight chapters of the book are available as an ebook sample, available for Kindle, Nook, and Kobo.

POLLS SHOW WIDESPREAD SUPPORT FOR MARIJUANA DECRIMINALIZATION

Marijuana is Safer argues that the public health problems caused by alcohol are far worse than those caused by pot, yet pot users are treated like criminals law enforcement. It doesn’t make sense, and for years campaigns to decriminalize the use of marijuana have been popping up across the nation. This year, according to NORML, polls are showing that many of the initiatives have enough support to pass. Of particular interest in 2012 is Colorado’s Amendment 64. From author Paul Armentano’s organization NORML:

“NORML enthusiastically endorses the Amendment 64. It restores the rights of adults who find marijuana a safer alternative to alcohol and tobacco. It preserves the rights of patients for whom marijuana is a safe and effective alternative to potentially addictive and fatal prescription drugs.”

Is there a measure on the ballot to end the war on pot in your state? Take a look at the various campaigns listed by NORML, here.

BINDERS FULL OF WOMEN?

Women’s rights are, unfortunately, up for grabs this election year as well. Not directly, but if you believe the campaign rhetoric then a vote for Mitt Romney for President is a vote against the historic Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. Not to mention conservative lawmakers continued absurd failure to grasp basic biology, or the fact that rape is — quite simply — a terrible crime.

Women’s rights issues are family issues, as President Barack Obama has been repeating for weeks. Madeleine M. Kunin’s book The New Feminist Agenda comes from exactly the same standpoint: in order to ensure women are treated equally, their role as family caretakers must be acknowledged and accommodated. For far too long women have been forced to make the impossible choice between career and motherhood. It’s time to re-imagine what equality looks like, and although we’re not in the business of endorsing candidates around here, we think it’s fairly clear that America isn’t going to solve these problems with nothing but “binders full of women.”

Corporate head offices full of women, Senate seats full of women, heck, even an Oval Office full of women? Now, that might do the trick.

ON POLITICS AND POWER IN GENERAL…

The national elections are filling the airwaves with “stuff”, as Joe Biden so politely put it in the Vice Presidential debate, but the high-rolling, high-tech campaigns are not the only realm of politics — and the power struggle embodied by the Democrats and Republicans is not the most important battle.

Chances are your hometown has some decisions to make too. Our new book Slow Democracy is a breath of fresh air in these times. An excerpt recently posted on CommonDreams explains the concept here.

“We propose Slow Democracy.  We recognize that the term is its own punch line: isn’t government agonizingly slow already?  Joking aside, our democracy has much to learn from the paradigm shift of the various “slow” movements.  Instead of seeing politics as the exclusive province of Washington, we should focus on the democratic possibilities in the neighborhoods and towns right where we live.  Local communities have the ability to address fundamental issues and create real change. Many of them have already done so.”

Read the rest of the excerpt at CommonDreams.org.

Never forget, even when you’re asked to make an absurd choice between an unsatisfying and deceitful incumbent, and a duplicitous, cynical newcomer, real power comes from within.

Bruce E. Levine articulates this in his latest book Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite. His recent article made waves online by asking the question, why are Americans so easy to manipulate?

The answer, according to Levine, traces the dodgy history of behaviorism in psychology, which rose alongside the consumer culture we’re so enmeshed in today.

“The corporatization of society requires a population that accepts control by authorities, and so when psychologists and psychiatrists began providing techniques that could control people, the corporatocracy embraced mental health professionals.”

Read the entire article here.

Levine’s ideas touch on controversial subjects such as the likely uselessness of psychiatric drugs, and the collusion of government with corporate oligarchs, but his message is empowering. If we open our eyes, come together, and stop accepting injustice, we can win, and we can fight for a better world than any political campaign is selling.

Slow Democracy is Here!

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

A Presidential election year always tests the patience of calm, thoughtful Americans who are often looking for serious solutions to the ills that face our communities.

Instead, we’re forced to listen to representatives from the two dominant corporate political parties do rhetorical cartwheels in the attempt to differentiate themselves — when really we know that who ever is elected chief for the next four years will probably act just about the same.

Real issues never come up in national elections. Case in point: Last week President Obama and Governor Romney actually argued about who could make gas prices go down. In an era of peak oil, climate change and increasing demand — really?!

Luckily, there are other ways of getting things done, making progress and taking care of your own neck of the woods — the community you care about most — in ways that are engaging, inclusive and empowering. Toward that noble end, we are proud to introduce our latest book, Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision Making Back Home.

Authors Susan Clark and Woden Teachout offer examples from around the country of how towns and cities have come together to think creatively about how to solve their own problems, avoiding top-down decision making, partisan divisiveness, and finding solutions no expert would have had the understanding to propose.

Clark recently appeared on Vermont Edition. “Voting isn’t enough,” she told the hosts, “Democracy doesn’t happen in 20 minutes every 4 years.” Listen to the entire show here.How did these two women end up writing the book? The Preface introduces each one, and tells a little about where their ideas come from. It’s a great way to get acquainted with the concept of Slow Democracy, and you can read it right here.

Slow Democracy: Preface

Pre-Release Special: Slow Democracy!

Monday, October 15th, 2012

You’ve heard of Slow Food, Slow Money, even Slow Gardening. It’s amazing how fast the concept of slow has caught on.

Now the principles that guide the rest of the Slow movements — a focus on local and ethical instead of cheap and fast — are (finally!) being applied to politics with the new book Slow Democracy.

In Slow Democracy, community leader Susan Clark and democracy scholar Woden Teachout document the range of ways that citizens around the country are breathing new life into participatory democracy in their communities. Along with real-life examples of slow democracy in action, Clark and Teachout also provide twenty simple guidelines for communities, and citizens, to use as ways to reinvigorate their local democratic process.

Clark and Teachout hail from Vermont, a “politically monochromatic state the authors call ‘almost insanely liberal,’” where town meetings have long been a tradition in community-scale decision making. But even in Vermont, politics isn’t simple, and not everyone finds it easy to agree. A recent profile of the authors and their project in the Rutland Herald explains:

“‘Sitting down with people who are different is a real act of courage,’ Clark says, ‘but we need all of those minds in the room. All of us know more than any one of us. We can’t take away power on one hand and then bemoan citizen apathy and lack of volunteerism and engagement on the other.’

As for the ‘slow’ part?

‘Yes, local democracy and strengthening community takes time,’ Clark concludes. ‘So enjoy it.’”

Critics agree that the book makes a compelling case. Kirkus Reviews called the book “A valuable tool for improving the way government operates at the local level.”

Politics in America always seems to be for sale to the highest bidder. While we don’t advocate buying an election, we’d like to encourage you to buy this book, so we’re offering Slow Democracy for 25% off this week!


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