State of American Democracy Project to Premiere “Democracy Unchained: A Conversation Series”

We are deeply honored and excited for Bioneers to serve as a Project Partner with David Orr’s State of American Democracy Project. David delivered a powerful keynote on this topic at the 2019 Bioneers conference, and he has been a deep partner with us in the work for decades, including his many years on the Bioneers Board.

As we face a concatenation of converging crises, the democracy crisis is a key to addressing and solving all the others – from the climate crisis to the crises of public health, racial injustice, obscene inequality, gender injustice, and the age of extinctions.

Originally planned before the Covid crisis as a 2020 series of 11 live national events, the project evolved into a series of video conversations to be broadcast on multiple platforms.

Episode one features Van Jones, David Brooks, Jill Lepore, & others, to explore the question: “What are the Moral Foundations of Democracy?” It premieres Sept. 17, 2020 at 7 p.m. EST/4 p.m. PST.

Please tune in, and please spread the word.

Note that David Orr will be leading a session at the online Bioneers Conference in December, and project leader Bakari Kitwana will be presenting a keynote and leading a session on Race and Democracy.



(Washington, D.C.) —The State of American Democracy Project—a nonpartisan collective of thought leaders and non-profit organizations and foundations who are passionate about rebuilding politics and U.S. government fo the benefit of all Americans—is premiering the first episode of its new series, “Democracy Unchained: A Conversation Series,” on Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 7 p.m. EST/4 p.m. PST.

The first episode, to be streamed on Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Roku and Fire TV, brings together journalists, politicians, religious leaders, and others to answer the question, “What are the moral foundations of democracy?”

The series begins under the backdrop of Washington National Cathedral, who calls itself “a unique place at the intersection of sacred and civic life,” and who strives to serve as “as agents of reconciliation, a trusted voice of moral leadership and a sacred space where the country gathers during moments of national significance.” The first episode of “Democracy Unchained” includes conversations with:

Van Jones, CNN political contributor and host of the Van Jones Show

David Brooks, New York Times columnist

Jill Lepore, writer for The New Yorker, and author of These Truths: A History of the United States

Tiokasin Ghost Horse, speaker, musician, and member of the Lakota Nation

Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

Michael Eric Dyson, Georgetown University professor, New York Times contributing writer, and contributing editor of The New Republic

Tracy Sharpley-Whiting, Vanderbilt professor, scholar and author

Sally Yates, former Deputy Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice

David Orr, founder, State of American Democracy project and co-editor, Democracy Unchained

The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean, Washington National Cathedral

Also Featuring:

The Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Washington

The Rev. Canon Kelly Brown Douglas, canon theologian, Washington National Cathedral and Dean, Episcopal Divinity School at Union

MEDIA CONTACT: Ann Barnett,, 216-505-0687

About the State of American Democracy Project

The State of American Democracy initiative began with a conference at Oberlin College in 2017, with a goal to clarify the historic and institutional origins of the election of 2016 and the breakdown in governance, civility, and fairness that transcends party politics. The second phase of the work through the election of 2020 focuses on repairing and strengthening democratic institutions to serve the aims of justice, fairness, prosperity, and resilience.

Today, the State of American Democracy is a nonpartisan collective of individuals and organizations from across the country who are passionate about rebuilding politics and government in America for the benefit of all Americans. Democracy Unchained, the book, edited by David W. Orr, Andrew Gumbel, Bakari Kitwana and William S. Becker (New Press, March 2020), brings together more than 30 contributors, and “Democracy Unchained: A Conversation Series” brings together more than 100 thought leaders from a variety of disciplines.

Today, more than 50 organizations have also partnered and/or sponsored this project, as well. The State of American Democracy project is made possible through the generous support of Ford Foundation, Germeshausen Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, Wallace Global Fund, Park Foundation, and Kallopeia Foundation.

To learn more, visit

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