ILSR 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.
As 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.
David Morris speaks at Riverside church as part of the International Forum on Globalization. Originally recorded in 1995, his words still ring true today. Continue reading
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
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
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