Along with direct action and other forms of resistance, a successful movement must also build new institutions based on solidarity, justice and cooperation. From small, worker-owned cooperatives to national advocacy groups, hundreds of thousands of people around the country are working to create democratic and sustainable systems that meet the basic needs of all people. Below are some organizations, tools and other resources to help you get involved creating a new world.

Featured Video:The video to the right is the trailer for the new film, Fixing the Future, highlighting effective, local practices such as community banking, worker cooperatives, local currencies and more.

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The Latest Challenges To The South’s Felony Disenfranchisement Laws

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By Olivia Paschal for Facing South – While all Southern states have laws disenfranchising people while they are incarcerated and on probation or parole, Florida stands out with one of the nation’s most restrictive felony disenfranchisement laws — one of only four states that impose a lifetime ban on voting for anyone convicted of a felony. The others are Virginia, Kentucky and Iowa. Because of the law, there are currently nearly 1.7 million Floridians — the highest number in any state — that have permanently lost the right to vote, according to a 2016 report by The Sentencing Project. Florida accounts for 27 percent of the national population of people disenfranchised due to felony convictions, and the 1.5 million Floridians who have completed their sentences but remain without voting rights make up 48 percent of the national total. But they could get that right back thanks to a ballot initiative now underway to amend the state constitution and allow people with felony convictions to vote once they complete their sentences, including probation or parole. This spring, the Florida Supreme Court approved the language for the initiative, which was drafted by Floridians for a Fair Democracy, a coalition of nonpartisan civic and faith organizations. But for the amendment to appear on the ballot next November, its supporters need to collect and submit over 700,000 signatures to county elections supervisors, who will need to verify them by Feb. 1.

Colorado’s Marijuana Tax Revenue Now Exceeds Half A Billion Dollars

MASON TVERT / VS STRATEGIES
State Rep. Jonathan Singer (D) accepts a novelty check for half a billion dollars from “The Cannabis Community” on Wednesday.

By Ryan Grenoble for The Huffington Post – In the three-and-a-half years since the state began allowing adults to purchase marijuana for recreational use, cannabis has contributed more than half a billion dollars in tax revenue to both state and local coffers. That’s according to a report released Wednesday by the Denver-based marijuana consulting firm VS Strategies. Based on data from the Colorado Department of Revenue, the firm tabulated that cannabis-related taxes from 2014 through mid-2017 totaled $506,143,635. That includes the taxes on purchases of marijuana for recreational or medical use, as well as fees paid by cannabis businesses. The tax figure is substantially more than some experts predicted in 2012 when Colorado voters approved Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana. At that time, some analysts projected the state would net between $5 and $22 million a year in taxes. VS Strategies spotlighted its report by presenting an oversize check for half a billion dollars Wednesday to Colorado state Rep. Jonathan Singer (D). A majority of money has gone to fund K-12 education (even with that, Colorado’s education funding badly lags behind most of the rest of the country). Amendment 64 requires the first $40 million in tax revenue be allotted for school construction.

How Big Is America’s Employee-Owned Economy?

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By Thomas Dudley for Fifty By Fifty – Before we jump into EO, let’s take a look at the size of the American private sector. Each year, every business operating in our economy is counted by the U.S. Census Bureau. The results are summarized in the Statistics of U.S. Businesses (SUSB). According to the SUSB, in 2014 there were 5.8 million businesses employing 121 million Americans in the private sector. Not all of these businesses would be eligible to be employee-owned — for example companies setup by a lone freelancer. Looking at firms with at least 5 employees, we find 2.2 million businesses employing 115 million Americans. Now thinking about employee ownership, the most general notion of EO would include everyone who has any ownership stake in their place of work. There are numerous forms of ownership, but stock ownership is the core of American capitalism. After all, it is the stock owners who are entitled to a company’s profits and who elect the board of directors. If we define EO as encompassing everyone who owns at least one share of stock in their employer, we cast a wide net. This definition includes everyone from a low-level employee who owns a few shares in their 401k, to a partner at a law firm, to a CEO who owns 100% of their business. It’s reasonable to assert that over 99% of businesses in America employ at least one person who owns at least one share of stock.

South Korea’s New Gov Proposes Rare Military Talks With North Korea To Ease Tensions

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, says he will never negotiate his weapons programmes unless the United States abandons its hostile policy toward his country AP/Wong Maye-E

By Samuel Osborne for Independent – South Korea has offered to have military talks with North Korea in order to ease tension across their border and resume the reunion of families separated by their war in the 1950s. It is the first formal overture to Pyongyang by the government of President Moon Jae-in, which said the two sides should discuss ways to avoid hostile acts near the heavily militarised border. It is unclear if the North would agree to the proposed talks, as it remains suspicious of the South Korean President’s actions, seeing the new leader’s more liberal policy as still resorting to the United States to force North Korea to disarm. The offer comes after the North claimed to have conducted the first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) earlier this month, and said it had mastered the technology to mount a nuclear warhead on the missile. South Korea and the United States dispute the claim. It also comes amid a surge in petrol and diesel prices in the hermit state, weeks after a Chinese state oil company suspended fuel sales amid international pressure on Pyongyang to curb its nuclear and missile programmes. China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), a state-controlled company, halted diesel and petrol sales to the reclusive state “over the last month or two”, according to Reuters.

Reparations Is Dead: How To Resurrect It

From blackagendareport.com

By Jahi Issa for Black Agenda Report – “I want Negroes first to realize that every Negro is an African citizen. Before we were Americans or West Indians we were Africa citizens. Negroes were never born originally to America or the West Indies. Negroes were originally born to Africa, isn’t it so? Where did your forefathers come from? Georgia? No, they came from Sierra Leone, West Africa or they came from… [word omitted], West Africa. They were first African citizens before they were emancipated by Abraham Lincoln, who made Afro Americans and by Victoria, who made Afro West Indians. “Now if a Frenchman leaves France — say he has left France 50 years ago and came to America and never asked or applied for naturalization papers. If he lived for 50 years, what would he be? He would be a Frenchman. He would never be an American citizen until he went through the process of action and applied for naturalization. He has first of all, according to the law of the country, to apply for naturalization papers before he can become a naturalized American citizen. If he lived for a hundred years and never applied for naturalization papers he would always be a Frenchman. “Now, sirs, can you remember the time when your forefathers applied for naturalization papers in this country? Your grandfathers never got any naturalization papers. They were gotten from Africa against their will. They were citizens of Africa.

'Democracy Vouchers' Amplify Low-Income Voices

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By Josh Cohen for The Guardian. If money amplifies the voices of wealthy Americans in politics, Seattle is trying something that aims to give low-income and middle-class voters a signal boost. The city’s new “Democracy Voucher” program, the first of its kind in the US, provides every eligible Seattle resident with $100 in taxpayer-funded vouchers to donate to the candidates of their choice. The goal is to incentivize candidates to take heed of a broad range of residents – homeless people, minimum-wage workers, seniors on fixed incomes – as well as the big-dollar donors who often dictate the political conversation. This August’s primary is the trial run for the program. But before Seattle can crow about having re-enfranchised long-overlooked voters, it must contend with conservative opposition.

Tesla’s Big Battery Will Change Power And Politics

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images/ Elon Musk unveiling new Power Pack

By Lloyd Alter for Tree Hugger – We have written previously about how Tesla will kill the duck in Australia in 100 days or it’s free. Now more detail has come out about what is being called the world’s largest battery, that Elon Musk is building. It will store energy generated at a big wind farm and deliver power during peak hours in South Australia. Tesla said it “will help solve power shortages and manage summertime peak load to improve the reliability of South Australia’s electrical infrastructure.” Elon Musk told a press conference how his $50 million bet on the 129MWh battery will work: You can essentially charge up the battery packs when you have excess power when the cost of production is very low … and then discharge it when the cost of power production is high, and this effectively lowers the average cost to the end customer. It’s a fundamental efficiency improvement for the grid. I have complained that electric cars really don’t change all that much, but the work that Musk is doing on batteries like this is going to be world-changing. Politicians do not want to recognize this; in the USA right now, Energy Secretary Rick Perry is “studying,” as David Roberts of Vox puts it, “whether baseload power plants (mostly coal and nuclear) are being unfairly pushed off the grid, thus threatening grid reliability, national security, and our precious bodily fluids.”

Building Red-Green Alternatives: Can Commons Challenge Neoliberalism From Below?

Inger. V. Johansen, Tom Kucharz, Satoko Kishimoto / Photo: Bettina Gram

By Inger V. Johansen and Gitte Pedersen for Transform! – Following on from our fruitful experience at the 2016 conference, when the issue of Commons was discussed as an integral part of the economic and ecological alternatives we are seeking to develop, we made Commons the focus of this year’s conference. We decided to address the subject from different perspectives, including how to use Commons in transforming society and the limitations involved in doing so. This was an extremely successful conference. We even managed to incorporate Commons into our general debate on alternatives, linking it to the all-important red and green strategic perspectives of our conferences. Nevertheless, we have concluded that, here in Denmark, it is still difficult to raise the debate on Commons at conferences. In this country, Commons is almost exclusively discussed in a few closed political and academic circles. The number of participants at this conference was fewer than on previous occasions, with a decrease in young people in particular. We believe that this reflects the problem. We simply need more time and discussion before we are able to focus specifically on the issue of Commons once again. In the future, we will therefore choose to integrate Commons into the overall themes of the conferences and debate. We strongly feel that we need more debate on privatization and remunicipalization, which is a big issue in Denmark.

Seattle Makes History – Passes ‘Tax The Rich’ Income Tax

Kshama Sawant addresses a crowd of "tax the rich" supporters outside at a rally before the vote.

By Andre Roberge for Progressive Army – Even though this may seem like cut-and-dry common sense legislation, this ordinance still has an uphill battle ahead of itself. Former Washington State Attorney Rob McKenna laid bare the main issues as follows: 1.[The city] would also have to persuade the Supreme Court to ignore an existing state statute that prohibits counties, cities … from imposing a tax on net income. 2.[What they] would have to do is persuade the Supreme Court to overlook its own precedent. The precedent alluded to above deals with a 1930s Washington Supreme Court decision that states “income is property, and the state’s constitution declares that all property must be taxed uniformly.” Since Seattle’s proposed income tax is a progressive tax and not “uniformly” distributed onto all tax brackets, the Supreme Court would have to redefine property. Some critics have gone even further.

The Attitude Of Solutions

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By Paul Glover. The United States’ largest problems — job loss, wage cuts, foreclosures, crumbling bridges, medical costs, school taxes, pollution, crime, hunger, national debt and war — each have many solutions. Real solutions do not wait for government or corporations. They depend on each of us, starting where we live, with whoever is ready to begin. For 45 years, I’ve responded to news with solutions. When I hear bad news, my reflex is to imagine a solution, design it, then begin it. Guided by common sense alone, and without waiting for precise diploma, I’ve started 20 organizations and campaigns.They provide practical alternatives for food, fuel, housing, health care, urban design, education, transportation, sanitation, finance, and jobs. Millions of lively patriots are already enjoying building a new America.

One Mexican Town Revolts Against Violence And Corruption

Josefina Estrada, a petite grandmother who helped lead the revolt in Cheran. (Cecilia Sanchez / For The Times)

By Patrick J. McDonnell for Los Angeles TImes – Checkpoints staffed by men with assault rifles, camouflage and body armor greet visitors at the three major entrances to this town. The guards are not soldiers, police officers, drug enforcers or vigilantes. They are members of homegrown patrols that have helped keep Cheran a bastion of tranquillity within one of Mexico’s most violent regions. The town of 20,000 sits in the northwest corner of Michoacan, a state where authorities say at least 599 people were killed between January and May, an increase of almost 40% compared with the same period last year. Cheran hasn’t had a slaying or other serious crime since early 2011. That was the year that residents, most of them indigenous and poor, waged an insurrection and declared self-rule in hopes of ridding themselves of the ills that plague so much of Mexico: raging violence, corrupt politicians, a toothless justice system and gangs that have expanded from drug smuggling to extortion, kidnapping and illegal logging. Six years in, against all odds, Cheran’s experiment appears to be working. “We couldn’t trust the authorities or police any more,” said Josefina Estrada, a petite grandmother who is among the women who spearheaded the revolt.

Renewable Energy Is Becoming So Cheap US Will Meet Paris Commitments

Why insist on coal as solar gets cheaper?	(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

By Zoë Schlanger for Quartz – Research analysts at Morgan Stanley believe that renewable energy like solar and wind power are hurtling towards a level of ubiquity where not even politics can hinder them. Renewable energy is simply becoming the cheapest option, fast. Basic economics, the analysts say, suggest that the US will exceed its commitments in the Paris agreement regardless of whether or not president Donald Trump withdraws, as he’s stated he will. “We project that by 2020, renewables will be the cheapest form of new-power generation across the globe,” with the exception of a few countries in Southeast Asia, the Morgan Stanley analysts said in a report published Thursday. “By our forecasts, in most cases favorable renewables economics rather than government policy will be the primary driver of changes to utilities’ carbon emissions levels,” they wrote. “For example, notwithstanding president Trump’s stated intention to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord, we expect the US to exceed the Paris commitment of a 26-28% reduction in its 2005-level carbon emissions by 2020.” Globally, the price of solar panels has fallen 50% between 2016 and 2017, they write. And in countries with favorable wind conditions, the costs associated with wind power “can be as low as one-half to one-third that of coal- or natural gas-fired power plants.”

Renewables Generated More Power Than Nuclear In March And April

A new rate settlement in Colorado could help boost rooftop installations like this one in Boulder. Credit: Getty Images

By Eric Wesoff for GTM – Solar farms planted on an abandoned nuclear plant site or powering a coal museum or atop a strip mine offer stark images of the ascendance of renewables. But forget metaphorical images — utility-scale renewable electricity generation in March and April actually surpassed nuclear for the first time since July 1984. (Ronald Reagan was president, and “When Doves Cry” was the No. 1 hit on the radio.) Recent months have seen record generation from wind and solar, as well as increases in hydroelectric power because of 2017′s wet winter (note that these numbers, from the Energy Information Administration, do not include distributed solar). Most of the time, conventional hydroelectric generation is still the primary source of renewable electricity. But one of the takeaways from this data set is the emergence of wind in the last decade as a material slice of the energy mix. The U.S. wind industry installed more than 8 gigawatts in 2015 and did it again in 2016. The country now has over 84 gigawatts of installed wind capacity. Another takeaway is the relatively diminutive contribution from solar, which falls between geothermal and biomass in its annual contribution. The U.S. installed 14.5 gigawatts of solar last year, up 95 percent over 2015.

Our Best Shot At Meeting Paris Goals? Make Energy Public

“Cities and towns that want well-run water and sanitation services, low-cost access to the internet, and affordable housing should keep those operations public.” Photo by Charles Cook via Wikimedia Commons.

By Sarah van Gelder for Yes! Magazine – Mayors across the country have vowed to deliver on the goals of the Paris climate accord in defiance of President Trump’s decision to back out. But how can they, realistically, when the national government is questioning climate science and promoting coal, fracking, and pipelines? Simply put: Make energy public. Instead of privatizing city services, as some policymakers have long advocated, a new report shows that public ownership gives cities and towns the best shot at meeting renewable energy and efficiency targets. “Reclaiming Public Services: How Cities and Citizens are Turning Back Privatization,” a study by the Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute, challenges the ideas that governments are ineffective service providers, that private companies are more efficient, and that austerity budgeting and reductions in public service are inevitable. Cities and towns that want well-run water and sanitation services, low-cost access to the internet, and affordable housing should keep those operations public or run by local nonprofits, the report found. If these services are now private, the institute recommends “re-municipalization.” The report is based on research involving 1,600 cities in 45 countries that have chosen public ownership over corporate ownership, especially of their energy and water systems.

The Zapatista Indigenous Presidential Candidate’s Vision To Transform Mexico From Below

Spokesperson and presidential candidate María de Jesús Patricio, left, surrounded by members of the Zapatistas. Photo by Violeta Schmidt/Reuters

By Benjamin Dangl for Toward Freedom – The Zapatistas and National Indigenous Congress (CNI) held an assembly in May in which they chose María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, a Nahua indigenous healer, as their spokesperson and presidential candidate for the 2018 elections in Mexico. Patricio’s candidacy and radical vision for Mexico challenges conventional politics and marks a new phase for the Zapatista and indigenous struggle in the country. The 57-year-old traditional Nahua indigenous doctor and mother of three from western Mexico is the first indigenous woman to run for the presidency in Mexico. Patricio joined the struggles related to the Zapatista Army of National Liberation in 1996, when she was involved in the formation of the CNI, a network of indigenous communities in the country. She began helping out sick members of her community with herbal remedies when she was 20-years-old. Her skills as a healer were passed down to her from elders in the community, and are based on a close relationship with the local ecosystem. “Back then, there was a shortage of doctors and medicine and the health department had no answers,” Patricio told the Guardian. “But we have so many plants and so much knowledge from our elders. My grandmother would give us special teas to cure stress, coughs or diarrhea, and they worked. So I thought: why not give herbal remedies to those who can’t afford medicine?”