The Institute for Local Self-Reliance challenges concentrated economic and political power, and instead champions an approach in which ownership is broadly distributed, institutions are humanly scaled, and decision-making is accountable to communities.
We believe that economic systems should embody democratic values, and that democracy can thrive only when economic power is widely dispersed. We believe that communities are healthiest when they possess the authority, capacity, and responsibility to chart their own course. We call this vision local self-reliance.
ILSR’s initiatives work toward this vision in different sectors:
- Our Community Broadband Networks program fosters the creation of high-quality, locally accountable broadband networks;
- Our Community-Scaled Economy program counters monopolies and champions independent business and local banking;
- Our Energy Democracy program works to expand clean, dispersed energy generation and increase local ownership;
- And our Waste to Wealth and Composting for Community programs develop neighborhood-led recycling, reuse, and composting enterprises.
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’re showing how public policy currently favors bigness and perpetuates inequality, and what people can do to change the rules.
Racial equity, freedom, justice.
Community, place, traditions.
Sustainability, responsibility, climate protection.
Dignity, solidarity, peace.
Citizenship, subsidiarity, the commons.
How We Work
- In-Depth Analysis — We combine journalism and data analysis to produce influential reports, high-profile articles in national outlets, and compelling presentations. Reporters rely on our research to inform their stories and allies use it to guide their strategies.
- Policy Solutions — We identify, develop, and promote policies at the local, state, and federal levels that reverse economic consolidation and create conditions in which locally accountable models can succeed.
- Grassroots Assistance — We work with citizens, activists, and policymakers to answer hundreds of technical assistance requests each year, run workshops, produce podcasts, and create popular education tools that support campaigns.
- Partnering with Others — We build coalitions and work closely with allies, from entrepreneurs to city planners, retail workers to engineers, neighborhood groups to national advocacy organizations, and many more.
ILSR was founded in 1974. Our 20-person staff works across the country. We have offices in Minneapolis, Minn.; Portland, Maine; and Washington, D.C.
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