The Institute for Local Self-Reliance has a vision of thriving, diverse, equitable communities. To reach this vision, we build local power to fight corporate control. We are a national research and advocacy organization that partners with allies across the country to build an American economy driven by local priorities and accountable to people and the planet.

Local self-reliance means that people are able to exercise power over our lives: how we provide for our families, how resources are shared and allocated in our communities, and how decisions made by government, corporations and business affect all of us. 

We recognize the biggest challenges in the U.S. today are corporate control and diminishing community power which undermines the strength of our democracy and local economies. For us, local self-reliance is the best answer to these challenges. 

So whether it’s fighting back against the outsize power of monopolies like Amazon, ensuring high-quality locally-driven broadband service for all, or advocating to keep local renewable energy in the community that produced it, ILSR advocates for solutions that harness the power of citizens and communities.   

WHAT WE DO

We believe that democracy can only thrive when economic and political power is widely dispersed. ILSR works to achieve this vision through five key initiatives that center local communities, giving citizens the authority, capacity, and responsibility to exercise power over their lives:  

Our Energy Democracy Initiative empowers households and communities to produce their own local, clean, and renewable energy and oppose the excessive power of monopoly utilities.

The Community Broadband Network Initiative promotes locally rooted, democratically accountable broadband networks that provide fast, affordable and reliable Internet access to all Americans.

Our Independent Business Initiative champions locally owned businesses, leads efforts to fight the unchecked power of corporate giants like Walmart and Amazon, and seeks to reverse the government policies that work against these small, independent businesses.

Our Waste to Wealth Program focuses on moving toward a zero-waste economy, exposing corporate control of the waste sector, and supporting local community efforts to shut down garbage incinerators. 

Our Composting for Community Initiative works in diverse communities to create jobs, protect the climate, and reduce waste by advancing local, neighborhood-level composting programs.

HOW WE DO IT

  • Fighting Corporate Control: Across all of our initiatives, we’re fighting unfettered corporate control in all its forms, from giant tech platforms to monopoly utilities, Wall Street banks to garbage incinerators. We show how public policy currently favors bigness and perpetuates inequality, and we identify, develop, and promote policies at the local, state, and federal levels that help build healthy, sustainable communities.
  • Building Local Power: We provide community members with the research and advocacy tools they need to reclaim power over local decision making and hold corporations and government accountable. We direct our efforts to support the people most impacted when democracy is threatened, especially rural residents, diverse communities, and economically disadvantaged Americans.
  • Partnering With Others: For 46 years, ILSR has been building coalitions and working closely with allies, from entrepreneurs to city planners, retail workers to engineers, neighborhood groups to national advocacy organizations, as well as communities of color, low-income communities, and other people pushed to the margins of the existing economic and political structure. With our partners we conduct research, run workshops, produce podcasts, and create popular education tools that support local campaigns.

JOIN US!

The need to decentralize economic power and reinvigorate democracy is stronger than ever. Join us today. With your support, ILSR can continue working to build an American economy driven by local priorities and accountable to people and the planet. 

ILSR was founded in 1974. Our staff works across the country. We have offices in Minneapolis, Minn.; Portland, Maine; and Washington, D.C.