Citizen-Led Innovation for a New Economy

Author +
Eds. John Gaventa, Alison Mathie

Year: 2015

This collection of eleven cases of citizens organizing for change in Canada and the United States gives form and substance to the ideal of a new economy based on fairness and environmental sustainability. These are stories of local citizens responding to the economically distorting effects of globalization, the environmental degradation brought about by industrial development and a deep concern about climate change. Grappling with complex problems in their local communities, they are forging innovation, prying open cracks in the system and seizing opportunities to redirect economic life.

The cases in Citizen-Led Innovation for a New Economy explore urban and rural initiatives among citizens in ethnically diverse settings — First Nations, Inuit, Latino, African American, predominantly white and mixed communities — where self-organized efforts to bring about change have generated innovation in economic and social life. Innovation in these cases means a new way of working, tying economic justice to the creation of multiple types of environmental, economic and social assets or forms of wealth. They are stories of individuals working together to challenge the short-term focus of political leadership by taking action for the sake of future generations.

“This book provides inspiring and accessible insights into citizen-led innovations, valuable for academics, students, activists, policymakers and grant makers. Thomas Piketty lays down the challenge of growing social inequality; Mathie and Gaventa and their contributors provide the vital building blocks for the emerging solutions economy.”

— Tim Draimin, Social Innovation Generation (SiG), Toronto

Purchase Citizen-Led Innovation for a New Economy


Citizen-Led Innovation for a New Economy: Lessons Learned from Cases in Canada and the USA
Alison Mathie & John Gaventa
Humility and Audacity: The Story of Vivre Saint Michel en Santé
Brianne Peters
New Dawn Enterprises: Becoming a “community instrument through which the people can do for themselves”
Juliet Merrifield & Anne Toner
A Vision of Flipping the Iceberg of Power: The Greater Edmonton Alliance Faces Big Land and Big Oil
Elizabeth A. Lange
Everyday Good Living and the Two Row Wampum: The Vision of the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres
Linda Jones with Sylvia Maracle
A Quiet Movement: Inuit Self-determination
Linda Jones
Ecotrust Canada: Building the Conservation Economy
Gord Cunningham & Juliet Merrifield
Resident Ownership and Neighbourhood Transformation: The Village at Market Creek
Tow Dewar
Pushing for Green Solutions to Urban Neglect: The Work of People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH)
Behrang Foroughi & Rachel Garbary
Permeating the Mainstream: Rural Action for a Sustainable Future for Central Appalachia
Alison Mathie
Reclaiming Land, Reaffirming Culture: The Deep South Community Agricultural Network
Phil Davison
Reaching Back to Move Forward Towards a Future of HOPE: The Story of Sandhills Family Heritage Association
Yogesh Ghore

About the Editors

John Gaventa is a fellow and research director at the Institute of Development Studies in the UK.

Alison Mathie holds a PhD in Program Evaluation and Planning from Cornell University, a MA in Sociology from the University of Guelph, and a MA in Geography (Hons) from the University of Edinburgh. Alison has over 30 years of experience in the international development field in participatory development and evaluation, formal and non-formal education, rural and urban women’s organizations, and gender analysis of macro-economic policy. At the Coady Institute, she is primarily involved in collaborative partnerships and conducting research and designing educational programs in asset-based community-driven development (ABCD).