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THERE ARE REAL ALTERNATIVES

We can create the kind of society—and world—we’d
like now and for future generations

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TIME TO FACE THE DEPTH OF THE SYSTEMIC CRISIS

There are political-economic system models that deliver
superior social, economic and ecological outcomes

The challenging realities of growing inequality, political stalemate, and climate disruption prompt an important insight. When the old ways no longer produce the outcomes we are looking for, something deeper is occurring.

We are at or near the bottom among advanced democracies across a score of key indicators of national well-being—including relative poverty, inequality, education, social mobility, health, environment, militarization, democracy, and more.

We have fundamental problems because of fundamental flaws in our economic and political system. The crisis now unfolding in so many ways across our country amounts to a systemic crisis.

Today’s political economic system is not programmed to secure the wellbeing of people, place and planet. Instead, its priorities are corporate profits, the growth of GDP, and the projection of national power.

Large-scale system change is needed but has until recently been constrained by a continuing lack of imagination concerning social, economic and political alternatives. There are alternatives that can lead to the systemic change we need.

What's next?

Sign the Statement

Time to Face the Depth of the Systemic Crisis We Confront

It’s time for everyone who cares about our troubled country to face the depth of the systemic crisis we now confront as a nation. We must step back from the daily fray and ask: How do we actually get on a path to the kind of society—and world—we’d like now and for future generations? We must begin a real conversation—locally, nationally, and at all levels in between—on how to respond to the profound challenge of our time in history.

“If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending,” Lincoln said, “we could better judge what to do.” Today’s answer to Lincoln’s charge is grim. If one looks at “where we are” among advanced democracies across more than a score of key indicators of national well-being—including relative poverty, inequality, education, social mobility, health, environment, militarization, democracy, and more—we find ourselves exactly where we don’t want to be: at or near the bottom.

We Face a Systemic Crisis

The challenging realities of growing inequality, political stalemate, and climate disruption prompt an important insight. When big problems emerge across the entire spectrum of national life, it cannot be due to small reasons. When the old ways no longer produce the outcomes we are looking for, something deeper is occurring. We have fundamental problems because of fundamental flaws in our economic and political system. The crisis now unfolding in so many ways across our country amounts to a systemic crisis.

Today’s political economic system is not programmed to secure the wellbeing of people, place and planet. Instead, its priorities are corporate profits, the growth of GDP, and the projection of national power. If we are to address the manifold challenges we face in a serious way, we need to think through and then build a new political economy that takes us beyond the current system that is failing all around us. However difficult the task, however long it may take, systemic problems require systemic solutions.

We Need Systemic Solutions

The social pain arising from the economic crisis, the steady unfolding of the climate calamity, and many other deeply troubling developments have made it possible to pose the question of large-scale system change in a serious fashion in the United States. Yet, despite this new space for a debate about fundamental change, challenges to the system have until recently been constrained by a continuing lack of imagination concerning social, economic and political alternatives. It is said that the existing system is the only possibility, one we must accept and work with—that, as Margaret Thatcher famously insisted, “There is no alternative.” But she had it wrong.

There are Real Alternatives

The good news is that the inability of traditional politics and policies to address fundamental challenges has fueled an extraordinary amount of experimentation in communities across the United States—and around the world. It has also generated an increasing number of sophisticated and thoughtful proposals for transformative change. Together these developments suggest that it is possible to build a new and better America beyond the failed systems of the past and present.

Indeed, new terms have begun to gain currency among diverse social movements and activist communities—an indication that the domination of traditional thinking has already started to weaken. Thus we encounter the sharing economy, the caring economy, the solidarity economy, the restorative economy, the regenerative economy, the sustaining economy, the resilient economy, and, of course, the new economy. There is talk of the need for a great transition. Several of these approaches already have significant networks and thoughtful research efforts underway. New thinking by creative scholars and members of the labor movement and community-oriented advocates is also contributing to the ferment.

Time for a National Debate

It is time for Americans to think boldly about what is required to deal with the systemic difficulties facing the United States. It is time to explore genuine alternatives and new models—“the next system.” It is time to debate what it will take to move our country to a very different place, one where outcomes that are truly sustainable, equitable, and democratic are commonplace.

Those of us signing this statement are committed to working towards these ends.

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SIGNATORIES

Philip Kavanagh
Susan MacmillanQueens College/City University of New York
John Franzen
sharon kershnerhumanity
Judy yetter
Shoshanna Silverberg
MIchael GilliganUrban Catalyst
Judith Ricevolunteer in the arts, education and urban development
Paul BrooksBrooks on Climate
Jon RynnEconomicRecinstruction.org
Joyce Kahle
Christian LotzMichigan State University
Janet Matthews
benjamin melançonPeople Who Give a Damn, Inc.
krista drummond
Rosaleen MazurRetired
Larry Buzzell-Saltzman
Adrienne Hall
Joy sequoia
Ian BackSpiritual Ecology and Regenerative Systems Initiative
David Lizoain
Jane Twitmyer
Daniel MillerMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Doug Bartonindividual
Deborah Adams
Lisa Hough
Sebastian StraubeBSD Germany
Callum Golding350.org
Kofi DebrahOKO Forests
Jonas Zackrisson TorpiCareAboutFood / The Edible Commandments
James Millernot very much, really.
Anna Schlunke
John FreeseEngaged Buddhist Alliance
Alexander BurkeFusion Power Corporation
lynds dee
Loraine Washburn
Kurt Scearce
Molly McGlone
Adam Jungwirth
Joshua PurvisEugene Film Society
Saliem MurchieVision 2020
Felix Tuason
Cheryl Nemazie
Barbara coomes
Lee Miller
Rowan gillies
James WarrenJames\' Blue House Free School
J. Michael Pryor
Carol Peppe HewittFinancing Our Foodshed
Joseph PallazolaSchool of Hard Knocks
Brandy Bones
Vici Oshiro
Daniel Krammer
Tree Fitzpatrick
Maxim RiceMr.
George SorkinOxnard Community Forum
Charles OhlineTeacher - Education
Ariel Heron
Ron AnteroinenArtist
Bruce SkarinPrivate Contractor
Marena Drlik
Anita McKeownArt Services Unincorporated
Nathan BixbyHavens for the Future
William Jaspers
Mark Hauber
Ken Goldman
Amanda Seres
Baba Yunus MuhammadAfrica Islamic Economic Foundation
Alexandra Coscia
heather cimmy ayres
Paula Frighetti
Allen Thomas
Zabet NeuCollins
Janice Vranka
Robert WalkerSelf
Lindsay SoyerA Sacred Moment Funeral Services
Valter MuttMember of Parliament (Sweden)
dave delaney
Don Perlstein
Jordan Kitchens
Richard Turnock
Steven Berge
Cat Johnsonfreelance writer
Daniel MetzgerRetired Scientist
Joanna Etka
Jeanne ErtleCalifornia OneCare
Alex BlanesTHNK.org
Rochelle Towers
Cole Porto
Dagmar TimmerOne Earth
Heather Shearer Griffith University
Elizabeth CampisiCenter for Public Health Continuing Education
Bob Loftushttps://www.facebook.com/yourepartoftheproblem
Susan BelchamberLifespan Development
Paula R RhodesUniversity of Denver
Clayton DeweySustainable Barnum
Jennifer Fredrickson
Tim WillardMontgomery County Green Party
Jake BersteinOberlin College
Flozell Daniels, Jr.Foundation for Louisiana
Glenn Novak
Douglas Fisher
Beverly Bacak
Sharon Harris
Cjay RoughgardenCommonCents
Melanie Grove
Emilie Anna Reaves350Marin
W. Wright
Gary Groesbeck
Joann LeeBALLE
John Bishop
Elliot SternMr.
John Swiatek
R. Richburg
Jerry StigallThe Stigall Group
Lawrence Wells
Terry AskerBig Tree Foundation
Benjamin RobertsThe Conversation Collaborative
Chris Wheeler
Carrie FreemanSecondMuse
Bonnie FirestoneHere & Now Designs
Devin Bishop
Vincent M Amari
Edgar Rivera Colon PhDColumbia Univesity
Anthony PainterRoyal Society of Arts
John Winer
Joseph M. FirestoneKMCI
Robert VogelNot Much
Rob ElamPropel Fuels
Alan Vander Hulst
Edd RingleinPetaluma Artists Collective
Denis Carey
Diogo Llorente
Ann HowardRochester Institute of Technology
Paul GreenSufficio.org
Simon Davis-CohenRead the Dirt
Muriel Strand
Nikki DaruwalaNDpoint Strategies
Nancy Babbitt
Turner Hall
Heather Hansman
Laura MurphyConscious Creativity
Paul YacoumisUniversity of Melbourne
William ButlerAmend Wall Street
William BabbittIndependent Scholar
Ellie JohnstonClimate Interactive
Nathan GerardColumbia University
Art CostaThames Valley Sustainable Connections, Inc.
Lawrence EFANAJust a freelancer
David RussellCove Hill Consulting. Inc.
Michael Oman
Allen Butcher
Pete de Graaf
Roy Taylor
Murray Stentiford
Kevin Klima
Laura D Clarke
Mark GinsburgGlobal Education Dept, FHI 360
James Robinson
james elkincitizen
jeremy williamsrivervoices.ca
Job van den AssemFriends of the Earth Netherlands
Elena BlackmorePublic Interest Research Centre
Eli AndersoneAkan
Tereza Coraggiothirdparadigm.org
Robert Watson
Diane Lesher
Maggie Wong
Barbara Lefevre
darcy bender
Leena HasanSFU350
Ashelea Tanner
Janice UrbsaitisCadwell & Company
Kevin Rolfes
Gaea McGahee
mike manetas
Dan SchubartAlberni Valley Transition Town Society
Emily York
Bevin Schaengold
Travis Callender
Haven McClure
Timothy Post
Darren Ray
Suzi GoldmacherNone
Nancy AcevedoBard College
Jim Brownlownone
Lynn Stanley
Mitch Ellah
tressa barnes
Rev Deb HansenConcerned Citizens of Cheboygan and Emmet County
Marty Marshman
Chris OrrMcGill University
manus mc manus
Bonn Bayardi
Christine Martin
Roseann Sanchez
William Vandiver
Mark TomlinsonWest Evergreen Consulting, LLC
Caitlin Fader
Edvin Thomollari
Alice Mural
constance washburnconstance washburn consulting
Sylvia Davis
Eva Perez
Alvin Gonzalez
Geoff AinscowConscious Elders Network
Rebecca NyamidieYES! Magazine
Kathy Svendsen
Frances Thomas
Tim WeidmanExistence Tapestry
David BlyMinnesota State Legislature
Deborah Faulkner
Patrick Ryan
Amy KietzmanEarth Commonwealth, One Neighborhood at a Time
Anne KnolFriends of the Earth Netherlands
Stephanie HillerWriteWorks...editing, writing and presenting our NEW story
Bart WestdijkNew England Grassroots Environment Fund
John SosaSUNY Cortland
pamela meyerscode pink
Alex A Bobroff
Mandy Olivam
Jon HamlinThealchemyofinfluence.com
Patricia FinleyPhiladelphia Yearly Meeting/Eco Justice Working Group
Mark Engebretson
Andrew Tucker
SUNNY THOMPSONindividual
Max Wendell
Gustavo Sosa
Kay McPherson
alex stephanovich
Keith McInturff
Michelle MartinMother, community organizer
Clara del Campo
Patrick TalbotCelebrate Long Life
Mackenzie Williams
Lindsay Mitchell
Christopher Gotschall
Harry Chomsky
Steve Breyman
Jim LormanEdgewood College
Colin ChristopherNETWORK Lobby
Chantal Eldridge Individual
Martha Creedon
Linda Riley
John BuckThe Sociocracy Group
Til ChamkisTerra-ist
barbara hillsierra club
Barbara Bogardactivist
Cheryl Woodie
Scott Lupo
Art LewHaida Gwaii Community Futures
Todd SmekensMiddletown Media Ltd.
Julie CasperHealth Elite, LLC
Cecilia Alvarez
Jose Giraldo
Elle Parks
Wells Hively
Nik SushkaMontgomery County Young Democrats
Lane SharmanSolana Energy
Margot SmithBerkeley Gray Panthers
renae millwee
Wendy MuellerMs.
sheila goldmacher
Michael O\'Brien
Lisa Franseenself
Carlisa Rivamonte
linda hoganson
Ruth White
David HendersonVeterans for Peace
Martha Kirkpatrick
Kai SanburnWILD
Kay Montgomery AlbrechtInnovations in Early Childhood Education
Tim Van MeterMethodist Theological School in Ohio
Doreen Freeman
Tina ModenNatural Awakenings
Robert PerryWorld Business Academy
Sofia Bennett
Michelle RosenbergerArchEcology, LLC
Sean ThackurdeenNew York Botanical Garden
Margi Robisonretired
Sabrina Scott
Roberto CavazosAuthor & Economist
Michael Bigelow
Trish Snyder
Lindsey Thomas
Ruby Chacon
Don Fillebrown
Michael PetrakisEarth Cooperative
Roger DoudnaFindhorn Community
Juana Alicia AraizaIntervención Divina/Divine Intervention, Artists
Anup DashUtkal University, India
Robin DeLuganUniversity of California
Leonard EdmondsonTransition Albany
Justinej TrowbridgeMe
George SavageCalifornia OneCare
Reese Forbes
David Barnett
Ken Gremillion
Becca Rodomsky-Bish
Sarah May
Steve Beanhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Money-Choice/233329590176167
William Miller
Joan Knight350 Vermont
Paul LipkeRoom to Maneuver
Charles Moyer
Joe MengMeng Farms, Inc.
Richard JacobsRetired
leanne minshullGreenpeace International
Jason ChrysostomouParticipatory Economics UK
William BeckerPresidential Climate Action Project
lynn manzioneprivate citizen
Jose Padilla
Chaitanya Kumar350.org
Jimmy Pasha
Ashwani Vasishth
shoshannah pass
Christine McDonough
Jim hennequin
Dan CowdellGetUp
Jonathan muzacz
Corinne Bondu
Jeroen VeldmanCity University, London
Joseph MeyersMr.
Arlene Mazak, Ph.D.
Gabriel Lopez
Lorenzo Kristov
Elizabeth IzzoArtist | Activist
Phoebe Ackley
Carol Lynn Harp
Robin Pearce
Tamara Stone
Leigh JardineIndependent Artists and Teachers for Peace
Sean BowdenUniversity of California, San Diego
Elle Rasink
Winston ApplePopulists In Action
Shannon Warwick
Jesse Peterson
Catherine SuttonMs.
Pam RussellIndividual Citizen
Deena MetzgerWriter
Nick Radonicnone
Jordan Page
Rev. Earl KoteenUUMFE
Lauren WitheyUC BERKELEY
Stacy Froemming
Elizabeth Ferguson
Brennan McFadden
John MifsudNext Step Housing
Linda Suhr
Kelsey Sullivan
Brenna Fitzpatrick
Grant LowMr.
Ronald GeldenN\\A
Pete Looker
Leanna Stouferearthsila.org
Richard Voget DDS
Jamilyn MetzStudent Activist
Scott Brendle
Martha Carmel
James CrispGetUp
Julia Daltonself
Alec LarsenN/A
Anandam PerkinsPROUT Institute
Kendra PeloJoaquin
Francoise La Monican/a
Kajute O\'RiordanGetUP
Chuck Flavin350.orgcorvallis
Mark McKimSierra Club
Dale Weiss
Nan Penman
Donnal Walter
Virginia Tustison
Lena SilberzahnJohns Hopkins University
James O\'Brien
Liz Mestres
John Jarrell
James Hutchinson
Michael BertrandFamily of Man
Pamela Bosack
margie carterHarvest Resources Associates
Robert Montgomeryn/a
Hans GrellmannOccupy Palos Verdes
Richard Koby
Lupe LopezAlliance for Citizenship
Alex Hartleywww.4hourworkday.org
Steven McGeeSAW Concepts LLC
Dusan Todorovic
Dwight Mott
gavan mcfadzeanthe australian wilderness society
David ProudfootProudfoot Mountain Farm
Susan Sunshine
Diane Burke Burke
Charito Calvachi-MateykoDelaware Transformative Justice
Catherine Homickitox-ick.org
Tyler DemarsCommon Enterprise Development Corporation
Nancy Mugridge
Christian ManPenn State
susan romoLabor United for a single payor healthcare
Denise Romesburg
kaleb hoeffgenLas Vegas Worker Ownership Resources and Cooperative Services
carla christianson
Nance DaviesArtist/Teacher
LISABETH RyderWORCS, LVWORCS, LAWORCS
Rebecca Graves
Mary Beth Mannarino
Marrena Lindberg
Larry Hosek
Anna Givens
Suzanne DeRushaMs.
Burt Kempner
Mark Dworkin
Sylvia WEN
pierre jolivetNone
Bruce KunkelBruce Kunkel
Allen Karakatsanis
Roger Taylor
Stef Rieder
Eduardo TaleroWorld Bank
Judith Walthour
Efrem Thomas
Mary Lou DeFino
Terry Sullivan
Ed MaestroThe Grove Counseling Cntr
Ken Schmidt
Suzanna DyerlyEssence of Alignment
Doug Currie
David SawyerContext
Mark Caponigro
Marge Carnahan
Chet Sulgrove
Angela CaleyBioDome Project
Ellen BrownMs.
alan morris
Jacquelyn KingsleyLanderholm Immigration, A.P.C.
Filipe Catraia
Shawna Wilcox
Nancy BlackMrs.
Dan Chay
Graham Neale
Kathleen McAfeeSan Francisco State University
Shana RappaportGreenBiz
roberta wallitt
Tina Weishaus
Diane MaddoxMs.
Jim WilsonBrightline
William Alexander HagenMr.
jakob jaggylocal security exchange
cheryl diersch
Lynette Lindahl
Joyce Placitosustainable business
Hector ReilloIndependent
Walt McReePublic Banking institute
Erin Whitelock
Sandy StlouisThird Sector New England
Jen Riedel
Chrisine Rodgers
Jim KennedyNone
Anthony FlaccaventoFarmer, SCALE, inc
George Smillie
John Shurtz
David HeintzTotalGlobalReparation
IVAN MALTCHEFF
Aaron MichelsSt. Louis Ecovillage Network
Amanda Cox
Anne DavenportRainShadow Textiles
James Hembyself
David SeabrookSeabrook Maritime
Peter spaldingRetired Senior Foreign Service Officer
Penny LundquistSTEM Institute, Golden Apple Foundation
Laurice Wright
Anthony Salvatore
Ginny SassamanGross National Happiness USA
Trudy CooperTCA
Gabriel Dickey
Mark MeeksCapitol Heights Presbyterian Church
Larry Sam
Shirley Matulich
Michael Spering
Matthew BurkeEconomics for the Anthropocene Partnership
Phil Ritter
Carol GayNJ State Industrial Union Council
Carol FisherSimply Living
Steve Goodallapuur.org
Peter Goss
Richard WrightTransformative Arts
Timothy Gavagan
John Winter
Chris Hables GraySyndicate for Initiative
Rochelle Rubinm
Micha NarberhausSmart CSOs Lab
james siglerCenter for global justice San Miguel de Allende, Gto. Mex.e
Joseph McElroy
Joan Huber
dr tracy ann essoglouoffsitelab
David Ehrlichman www.convergeforimpact.com
Ken Slattery
Mike BeyerMindsiMedia
John Cosulich
Laura FinestoneTown of Rochester Environmental Conservation Commision Chair
Keith Barger
Beth harris

ABOUT THE NEXT SYSTEM PROJECT

The Next System Project is an ambitious multi-year initiative aimed at thinking boldly about what is required to deal with the systemic challenges the United States faces now and in coming decades. Responding to real hunger for a new way forward, and building on innovative thinking and practical experience with new economic institutions and approaches being developed in communities across the country and around the world, the goal is to put the central idea of system change, and that there can be a “next system,” on the map.

NEXT SYSTEM PROJECT CO-CHAIRS

Gar Alperovitz

Co-Chair of the Next System Project, former Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland, and Co-Founder of the Democracy Collaborative. He also serves as a founding board member of the New Economy Coalition.

Gus Speth

Co-Chair of the Next System Project, board member of the New Economy Coalition, Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos, and Associate Fellow at the Tellus Institute. He served as Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies from 1999 to 2009.

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