Americans have, since our founding, participated in a variety of alternative institutions–self-organized projects that work outside the traditional structures of government and business to change society. From the town meetings that still serve as our ideal of self-governance, to the sustainable food movement that is changing the way we think about farming the land and feeding our families, these secondary structures have given rise to many of our most exciting and important innovations. Yet most people still know little about them, even as their numbers and their influence increase.
In today’s climate of widespread economic inequity, political gridlock and daunting environmental challenges, we sorely need a fresh approach to social and political change. In Democratic by Design, Gabriel Metcalf sketches out a strategy that starts with small-scale, living examples of a better society that can ultimately scale up to widespread social transformation. Using examples like car-sharing organizations, community land trusts, credit unions, workers co-ops, citizen juries, community-supported agriculture farms, mission-driven corporations, and others, Democratic by Design shows how alternative institutions can be the crucial spark for a broad new progressive movement.
About the Author
Gabriel Metcalf serves as executive director of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), one of the leading urban planning organizations in America. He is a frequent writer and speaker on these topics. He has been profiled in national media, including the Wall Street Journal, and in the San Francisco Examiner and other local media. He has a degree from University of California, Berkeley in City and Regional Planning. He lives in San Francisco.