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Featured Article, Resource filed under General | Written by ILSR Admin | No Comments | Updated on Dec 10, 2014

Building Community, Strengthening Economies: ILSR’s 2014 Annual Report

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at


Image: ILSR 2014 Annual ReportILSR was founded 40 years ago out of a conviction that solving even our most complex problems begins with people exercising collective authority at the local level.  Since then, we have been at the forefront of helping communities take charge of their local resources and build an equitable, environmentally viable, and democratic future.

This year, working alongside a diverse range of allies, we made significant progress in realizing this vision.  We are thrilled to share the stories of change in our 2014 Annual Report: Building Community, Strengthening Economies.

As you’ll see when you read the report, this year we produced critical research and developed new tools and policies that have helped communities:

  • Expand rooftop solar, which is revolutionizing the electricity system by shifting ownership of energy generation from utilities to households.
  • Ditch big telecom companies and build their own locally owned broadband networks.
  • Rebuild local, neighborhood retail, creating new jobs and keeping dollars local.
  • Reclaim their waste streams and establish composting enterprises that convert the value inherent in food scraps into more fertile and climate-friendly soil.
  • Grapple with questions central to reinvigorating a bottom-up democracy capable of solving complex problems.

Transforming our economy entails not only building new enterprises and systems, but fighting the forces that stand in the way.  In the report, you can read about the leading role we played this year in a Minneapolis clean energy initiative that is a model for how citizens can leverage their authority over corporate utilities; see how we helped defeat a Walmart-led ballot initiative in North Dakota that would have overturned a state law that mandates that all pharmacies be locally owned; and learn more about our successful campaign in Kansas to kill a cable industry-inspired bill that would have blocked cities from building their own public broadband networks.

Image: Donate ButtonAs we confront the daunting challenges of a severely compromised climate, crippling inequality, and a failing federal government, ILSR’s forward-thinking, bottom-up solutions have never been more needed. 

We need your support today. Help us fight against the concentration of corporate power, the loss of control of our local economies and government, and the growing threats to our environment.

Please help us expand our impact in 2015 by making an online tax-deductible donation to ILSR, or donating by mail or phone.

beyond utility 2 cover image
Featured Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by Rebecca Toews | No Comments | Updated on Dec 9, 2014

New Report: Beyond Utility 2.0 to Energy Democracy

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

Exciting changes are on the horizon for our century-old utility structure as solar power, energy storage, and electric vehicles open new avenues for utility customers to produce their own power and control their energy use. Utilities are scrambling to remain relevant in this technological firestorm, and energy wonks are envisioning a new business model –… Continue reading

Featured Article filed under Broadband | Written by Rebecca Toews | No Comments | Updated on Dec 2, 2014

Chris Mitchell Presents in Brussels on the State of Fiber in the U.S.

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

Chris was recently invited to present in Brussels on the experience of U.S. cities and fiber optic investment. The event was organized by the Swedish Association of Local Authorities (SALAR) and Stokab (The City of Stockholm IT infrastructure company). Mitchell gave an overview of the situation in the US and described the difficulties of getting high-capacity broadband,… Continue reading

Featured Article filed under The Public Good | Written by David Morris | No Comments | Updated on Dec 4, 2014

Alaska’s Enlightened Approach to Drugs and Privacy

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

Politicians left and right often use pet phrases to justify their positions:  states rights, individual liberty, personal responsibility.  Rarely are these consistently applied.  Even more rarely do politicians or political parties offer a coherent framework for deciding when a higher level of government should preempt a lower level of government or when individual liberty trumps… Continue reading

Photo: Walmart store
Featured Article, Resource filed under Independent Business | Written by Stacy Mitchell | 1 Comment | Updated on Nov 20, 2014

New Report: Walmart’s Dirty Energy Secret

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

Walmart talks a lot of talk about its renewable energy initiatives, but a new ILSR report finds that all that hype is just slick greenwashing hiding the company’s massive coal consumption. In this first-of-its-kind analysis, ILSR calculated that Walmart is one of the nation’s largest users of coal-fired electricity. Despite pledging nearly a decade ago to shift to 100 percent renewable energy, Walmart today derives only 3 percent of its U.S. electricity from its renewable energy projects — far less than many small businesses and competing chains. Several national environmental leaders — including Michael Brune of Sierra Club, Bill McKibben of, and Jeremy Hays of Green For All — joined ILSR in releasing the study and calling for change. Continue reading