Panel Discussion – The Emerging Transformation: Practical Strategies for Systemic Local, Regional and National Change

Co-sponsored with The Democracy Collaborative.

Many Americans sense that fundamental change is occurring in our country. At one level, the Trump era has undeniably brought intense divisions and trauma, but at a very different, deeper level, in communities nationwide there has been a steady but explosive growth of practical new, transformative and reparative economic, ecological and institution-building initiatives. This outline of a “next political-economic system” is quietly building just below the radar of everyday media awareness, just as what became the New Deal was, in fact, built upon new thinking and experiments developed in state and local “laboratories of democracy” in the decades before Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency. This panel with 4 leaders of The Democracy Collaborative, an R&D laboratory for the democratic economy, presents an overview report from the frontlines of this dynamic movement, which promises to usher in a new era of radical, system-altering change.

Hosted by Gar Alperovitz, co-founder. With: Isaiah Poole, Vice President of Communications for The Democracy Collaborative; Johanna Bozuwa, Co-Manager of the Climate & Energy Program; Thomas Hanna, Director of Research and specialist in public ownership.

This discussion took place at the 2020 Bioneers Conference. Watch more panels, keynote addresses, and performances from the conference.


Gar Alperovitz, Ph.D., co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative and co-chair of the Next System Project, has had a distinguished career as a historian, political economist, professor, scholar, activist, policy expert, and government official. A former Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge University, and a founding Fellow of the Institute of Politics at Harvard, he has served as a Legislative Director in both the U.S. House and Senate, and as a Special Assistant in the Department of State. The author of many critically acclaimed books, including seminal tomes on economic inequality and atomic diplomacy, his articles are widely published in leading news outlets, and he has frequently testified before Congress.

Isaiah J. Poole, who has 30+ years’ experience in journalism and was a founding member of both the Washington (DC) Association of Black Journalists and the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association, is the Communications Director for The Democracy Collaborative. He was previously Communications Director for People’s Action and for the Campaign for America’s Future.

Johanna Bozuwa, M.Sc., Co-Manager of the Climate and Energy Program in The Next System Project at The Democracy Collaborative, focuses on the transition from the extractive, fossil-fuel economy to resilient, equitable communities based on climate justice and energy democracy in her work. Her writing has been widely published including in The Nation, The Hill, and Progressive Review. She has organized around climate justice in both the U.S. and the Netherlands, from campaigns to eliminate the social license of fossil fuel companies such as Shell to fights for utility justice and public power.

Thomas M. Hanna, Research Director at The Democracy Collaborative and a leading expert on democratic models of ownership and governance, is the author of several books, including, most recently: Our Common Wealth: The Return of Public Ownership in the United States. A dual U.S./UK citizen, he has advised the UK Labour Party and has served on the advisory boards of several national and international initiatives, including two European Research Council-funded research projects.

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