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Featured Article, Resource filed under General | Written by ILSR Admin | No Comments | Updated on Nov 18, 2015

Building Local Equity: ILSR’s Impact in 2015

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

Image: Donate ButtonILSR’s forward-thinking, bottom-up solutions have never been more needed.   Please help us expand our impact in 2016 by making an online tax-deductible donation to ILSR.


Download our 2015 Annual Report

Since our founding, building equity has been a core value and aim of our work. The word “equity” originally meant fairness or equality. Today the term has degenerated into a narrow reference to the ownership of property or stock. A growing movement is trying to recapture its original emphasis, and is shaping public discourse from the neighborhoods of Baltimore to the Vatican to the Presidential campaign trail. ILSR is part of that movement.

The conventional debate about economic inequality focuses on income redistribution. We believe a redistribution of power makes possible a redistribution of income. ILSR fights the centralization of economic and political power in pivotal sectors – energy, waste, telecommunications, retail, and banking – and argues for decentralized systems and rules that are just and fair.

Our work had significant impact in 2015. Take a look at our 2015 Annual Report: Building Local Equity to see how our vision, research, and partnerships helped advance a more equitable and democratic economy.

Our community-owned broadband initiative, for example, had front-row seats when President Obama traveled to Iowa to congratulate Cedar Falls on its municipal network and called on states to relax barriers to communities investing in their own networks. We were invited because our powerful examples of local networks and their economic development benefits catalyzed the Administration’s position and Federal Communications Commission policy. We have since been called to the White House for closed-door policy discussions. Over the course of the year, we have increased our focus on how local investments can ensure everyone, regardless of income, can access the Internet at home on reasonable terms.

In 2015, as a result of ILSR’s research and advocacy:

  • Legislatures in several states were spurred to action by our investigation of a new tactic big retailers are using to force cities to refund the property taxes their stores have already paid.
  • Minnesota’s largest utility committed to a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in large part because of the work of the Community Power coalition, which ILSR helped to found and continues to advise.
  • Volunteers at more than a dozen community gardens have learned to compost under our Neighborhood Soil Rebuilders Composter Training Program.
  • Residents of Curtis Bay, a largely African-American, low-income neighborhood in Baltimore, stalled the construction of an immense trash incinerator and proposed a compelling alternative based on solar, reuse, and recycling enterprises with the assistance of ILSR.

We need your help to expand our reach and multiply these successes.   Continue reading

Image: Amazon vs. Local Business
Featured Article, Resource filed under Independent Business | Written by Olivia LaVecchia | No Comments | Updated on Nov 12, 2015

Before You Click on Amazon, Here’s Why Your Choice Matters (Infographic)

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

Amazon is rapidly expanding its online empire, but behind the conveniences that the company offers are a lot of hidden costs. We put together an infographic to see how shopping at Amazon compares with shopping at local businesses in its impact on jobs, taxes, the local economy, and community. Before you click, here’s why your choice matters: Continue reading

community renewable energy mockup
Featured Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Oct 26, 2015

Top 10 Reasons to Support Community Power

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

Building local equity is the key to campaigns for 100% renewable energy, giving everyone a chance to own a piece of their energy future. Read below to discover the top 10 reasons to support Community Solar:   10. Savings Every 1-kilowatt share of a community solar project can cut your electricity bill by 13%. 9…. Continue reading

SandyNet Goes Gig
Featured Article, Resource filed under Broadband | Written by Christopher | No Comments | Updated on Nov 9, 2015

SandyNet Goes Gig: A Model for Anytown, USA

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

Many of the most beautiful communities in the United States are in remote areas where incumbent cable and telephone companies have decided not to offer modern, high-quality Internet connectivity. Sandy, Ore., is one of them. Some 10,000 people live there among the lush green forests and beautiful vistas of the “Gateway to Mount Hood,” 25… Continue reading

NSR mixing spring photo
Featured Article filed under Composting, Waste to Wealth | Written by Brenda Platt | No Comments | Updated on Oct 20, 2015

ILSR Offers Scholarships to Attend National Compost Conference

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

Conference scholarships of up to $700 are available to community composters to attend the third National Cultivating Community Composting Forum and the US Composting Council’s International Conference & Trade Show January 25-28, 2016, in Jacksonville, Florida. Click here to apply for a scholarship This year, the conference, COMPOST2016: Soils for a Greener World, will feature… Continue reading