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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

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
Lisa ConleyTown and Country RC&D
Henry Tuttle
Cathy Rayner
frank phoenixfenwick foundation
Rose Arlitt
Daniel Mathews
Howard Pearlmutterecocre8.org
David WebberUniv of Missouri
William Fudeman
William GilbertAlachua County (Florida) Labor Coalition, Veterans For Peace, & Live Oak Sangha
Harvey Utech
Dennis Peeling
robert scardapaneme
Ron FisherPeopleNow.org
aletia trepteMs.
Bill ReitterGreen Party & Food and Water Watch
Tom CaliMr.
nadine cullennone
Bogomil TomovSolidarity centre - Varna, Bulgaria
Tormod Hvidsten GjedremEqual Life Foundation
C. Fred PittengerBe The Presence
janine foley
Ayako NaganoMidori Law Group
Joan SummerTwo pugs
Paulette Townsend
Stephen ApkonReconsider
Andrew McGuireTrauma Foundation
julien elissalt
Leslie McColgin
james toland
Christine Edgeworth
Ferris Kawar
Phoebe SorgenBFUU Social Justice Committee
Gary Hawkey
Alice Chan
Phil Seymour
Bill MichtomNpne
Marco BettoniWeKnow
Jennifer HenryGreen Circle Salons
Arturo Evangelista
Genessa KrasnowRevel Wolf Collective
Bradley Bryant
John Jo Lewis
Victoria Conmy
Bruce Wade
Larry Hempen
KEITH HEYTINK
Robert PowellPowell & Associates Science Services
Kelly CarlinPolymind Enterprises LLC
David PintuffPoorMansUmbrella
Zach AndersonConverge For Impact
rj godin
Daniel RussellHuman
ann callahan
Ricardo Hinkle
Adam Lee
Jay Jurie
cynthia ramonnone
Eugene Anderson
Lars Keffer
Mark SchultzNVC Academy
David WardSeattle Environmental Activists
neeltje Wilson
Deborah Eddy
Dante Ortiz
Debra Diegoli
kenneth keffffer
Bonnie Nichols
Paul Ladniak
Stuart Heady
Gary SkinnOrangeville Sustainable Action Team
Sharon Alperovitz
Jeff AGner
randy jewartResolution Gardens
James Kenworthystruggling activist in Longmont, Colorado
James LittleDr.
Jerah Kirby
Anita Li
Lawrence Krantz
Sun Phil KwonMokwon University, Korea
Connell Ward
Carol Saunders
John Mulkinswww.thenationalreferendum.org
Tom WilsonUniversity of Vermont; The Field Academy
joy7353@aol.com joy
Rebecca Novelli
Tom Blood
Jan Young
Andrew WilsonState College Area School District
Tim McGuireTim McGuire Images
Dwight ChestnutM.I.N.D.S.
Henry TwomblySelect...
Qiuyan Tang
STUART SMITSNew Energy Ventures
Nicholas Littlejohnturbulencex.org
Melinda Pensinger
Bill ValentiRantcaster.com
Edward Karn
Michael Crowley
Dave ShuklaLong Beach United
Nalini SinghGeneration Waking Up
Alexa PengellyUS Forest Service, Contractor
Karen HansonTucson, Arizona, Episcopal Church
davide schimmelsan francisco mill-cabinet
Cholla Nicoll
Cristina Pérez-Vàzquez
Aaron StuckertGroundswell Vancouver
David LynchLynch Graphics and Creative Services
manuel da costa viana
Paul BrownOne Penny Per Mile, Inc.
Curt Williams
Ron Czecholinski
Bruce Countryman
Daniel Glenn
Ken Weisbron/a
Jennifer Pattersoncitizen
Jay Heyman
Claiborne Deming Jr
richard de voll
eric treider
Mike Foote
Tiya Tahahr
Daniel AbromowitzNew Economy Coalition; YouthBuild USA
Celie HorneAKA
Paul LaswickMr.
Calum Csunyoscka
Julie-Ellen Brodie
Neil Holzman
Susan Harrison
Iris Chiniook
alice slaterNuclear Age Peace Foundation
Archana Ravichandradeva
Christien de Beaufort
Lorne GouldFirst Byte Software Inc.
John PalmerCitizen
milly daniel
Ian Henry
Julia Page
Roger Maimí Duran
Melvin HendrixCollaborative Agronomic Partnerships
Dan O\'NealProgressive Democrats of America - Arizona
Edward Rohwer1955
Steve Moyecitizen
Elana Nelson
Ellen Cimino
Kathryn BlumeVermontivate!
Richard Vann
bobby dickeyconcerned citizen
Abby ShermanSex Positive World
Janet Tache
Sabina hayutin
Megan EcclestonSustainaBuild
Carolyn Blackler
Tex J. G. Albert
john flemingMr.
Carrie NortonIt\'s Time Network
Sally Bianco
Tom DonaldsonHorses Are Wild
ed eatonour sun solar
Monica Davies
Steve BogaertsCitizens Climate Lobby, Climate Reality Project
Jow Seemanvolunteer for multiple organizations
Wayne AdamsEngr.
Ian Salter
Mary Kulakowski
Noreen Wedman
bryan behiehuman race
Lori Sadowski
Jessica Dreistadt
Vic Burton
Emma Snyder
cecile pinedacecilepinedddda.com
Bob Sanders
Susan LeesMothers Out Front: Mobilizing for a Livable Climate
Joanna Heller
Biro GeorgeCOMER
Gregory Flynn
Lorne Warwick
Anita May
Joyce Godels
Spencer Selander
Jackson Davis
Hendrik WagenaarUniversity of Sheffield
Karl Humphrey
Eric LeensonSOL Economics
Karin Anderson
Peter Klauer
Heather O\'ConnellRice University
Woodrow ClarkClark Strategic Partners
Joseph Volpenone
Fred BentlerKing County
mindy mitchell
Yarika Rose
Brian Klocke
Alessandra Bosco
Elaine HansenShared Values-Different Perspectives
William H. FisherCollege of William & Mary
Don McCoy
Louisa DavisThe Sustainable Activist
Linda Leehman
Ruthann Ovenshire
Robyn LuiSocial Change Collective
Susan Goldman
Robbie Purner
Anthony Celmer
David Baldwin
Scott McFadden
Jennifer BrowdyTransition Times http://bethechange2012.wordpress.com
Walter Tsou
Caroline Braeken
Darlene WaldronMs.
Leonard Hardy
Hugh WillmottCardiff University
Penny Claringbull
Emmy Elmstrue wings healing
cindy marczukMs.
Tony ConwayKorashan
John Wills
Anthony Scalise
David Scharff
Michael GroveGrowing stuff at home and on the allotment
David TurnerPeace Corps
BeVan PresleyMr.
Stephen EllenDr.
Janet MakerDr.
Maria Cristina TemminkCivic Systems Learning
Helmut KässIPPNW
Lisa Huber
Ingrid Good
Daniel WolfXecura Investment Holdings
Paul E. SjordalOccupy Naperville
William KennedyRetired union member
Kelly Wassell
Katya Walker
rita hamilton
Dan BoivinHart Co.
Diane King
Eve Mallett
Celes Davar
Dan Sisken
James Marcus
Rita Wittwer
Roshani Nash
Rachel Morello-Frosch
Bradford Castaliaidaeim studio
Greg BanksHelfenstein S. Council, Inc.
Stephanie RiccobeneCleveland Nonviolence Network
Robert RileyCaring Economy Study/Advocacy Group
Stephen AmbrosichRN
Randall Webb
john fagosilver sunbeam
Stan ChappellMr.
Aaron DellutriChicago Area Peace Action
Alicia BrightDominican University of California
David LandskovSustainable Arlington
Roselva Ungar
Lewis Kuhlman
lee rayburn
Mike Wilson
Constanza RiosUF
Christopher EdensUS Air Force officer/physician
Prakash LauferEarthdance Creative Living Project
Jerome Roth
Robert Munford
Michael LaBonte
Kay BrownLos de Abajo
Deborah J Bernstrin 350 Massachusetts
Sheridan PhillipsPraxis School
Tanner Vea
Lynne Weborg
Herb Shelton
DK EthimeEthime Clothing
Tom StitesBanyan Project
Christopher Bryant
Adrienne Monzingo1979
Sean Hughey
Wesley BascomDemeter Design Build
Jennifer Hill-Hart
Kristen PerryDivest McGill
Rosalind Robinsonretired
Michelle Harris
Joanne OBrien
(John) David DeChantVeterans For Peace
Kendale SturdiventThe Venus Project
J. Michael \"Mike\" Henderson
Ines Rato
Helen HolroydMiss
Kathleen BrownConcerned Individual
William Grosh
Anne Jacopetti350.org Sonoma County
Carol Ashley
Christine Sandow
Rajesh VaishSustainable Technologies
Richard Dawson
Stephanie Cloak-Sander
Gary Granat
Maria Vamvalis
ehulani hope kāne
Ruth MulliganSaint Mark\'s Episcopal Cathedral
Heather Karlson
Richard Tyssen
Jim Walts
Denise BissonnetteDiversity World
Robert Silvers
Chad Lupkes
Carlos Espinoza-ToroInstitute for Policy Studies
Tiobe BarronMiss
Connie Cloak--
Marilyn Patton
Nancy White
Matthew Williams
cheryl pritchard
Nancy RoofKosmos Journal
Rani ThompsonYOUTH MISSION ACCOMPLISHED
Onni Juhala
Lawrence White
Marcelle Roy
Kelly Gerlingkellygerling.com
Tom AthanasiouEcoEquity
Dick HermansOblong Books & Music
Cecilia GastonMs.
Eugene Braun
Jeffrey CourterChurch leader
James UlemanProfessor of Psychology, New York University
Greg German
Chris Brandtn/a
John WasonNone
Myra GrahamThe Venus Project
Lawrence RobertshawJobs With Justice
David LowaMr.
Marge Pellegrino
Kathryn SenigagliaGrandma at large
Eugenia Kuttler
Kathryn Schmauch
Alan ChenMcGill Spaces Project
David Brisbin(Individual)
Mary-Alice ShemoPeople For Positive Action
Bryant Plank
Jen LazarThe Field Academy
Betsy HunterPando Populus
Marie Shacter
Phyllis Arist
William Quigley
Suzanne Hurley
David F. HalletInternational Brotherhood of Curmudgeons
Brian EdgarKumu
Emile MarlinghausMultiple
Debra Bregerteacher and community member
barbara vedder
Joseph A. Mungai
Esther Harrison
Arlene HansenIndividual
Coralee Campagnolo Personal
Lisa Zanetti
Mario Geilenhand to mouth
Kimber SheinGo Whistler
Brian WillsonViet Nam Veteran
Jerry Remak
Liberto SantantonOrganIQ
Ivan SpanjevicConcerned Individual
Cathie Bird
Kirana SundbergProut Institute
mark valentine sullivanMr.
Merrie Stewart
David Bridgemandreamer
Wesley KempferThis Neck of the Woods Consulting
Peter Anson
Peter SchurmanOneGlobalDemocracy
Pat BakalianSocial Activist
Katherine Kauffman
Linda Bacon
Lisa Parker
Herb Stephens
Lizzie GermanStudent
Xiaojian YouChina Social Innovation Foundation
Harvey Weisfeld
Julie Lacy
Frank OrthelSelf
Jeffrey Hallettretired, angel investor
Dan RinkPolitical Futurist
Judy FraserEcologics
Arlene Oglove
Mike Sandiland
michael tottenAssetsforLife.net
MK Kellogg
christina mitrakos
Owen Schaffer
Skip Londos
Corey KnoxUniversity of Arizona
Frank HoggIndividual
Michael Katsak
GLEN MOWRERTHE NEXT STEP TVSB
Vin Libassi
Ruth VorwallerOrganization
marty levine
Susan SlapnickRetired, biologist
Robin BrooksMaine Education Association
Steve Schmitt 1952
Omer MadraAcik Radyo
Steven HoltSoaring Seal Productions
Lee BootUMBC
Kevin Heairet
Joy Brooke FairfieldStanford University
Dona LaSchiava
Ted CloakDemocratic Party of Bernalillo County, New Mexico
Peter ThacherFossil Free Penn
Richard TwillmanMr.
Ken ConnellContemporary Solutions
Chris Rasmussen
russell preciousKootenay Co-op
Kathleen Mendiola
Barbara Bue
Martha Lee Owen
Matt Scholtes
Christina Chady
Claire CarsmanPDA, Move.On....
Carolyn Sellars
Beatriz OteroUniversity of Michigan
Jon Hassen
Jon WeissLake Climate Group LLC
Victor DidraPlanet Earth
Robert Drayton
Marina Fioravanti
Valerie Schloredt
Kit LOFROOS
Elizabeth Adams
Donald Burrows
Linda Novack
Jane KagonRFK-LA (Legacy in Action)
Bruce Veivia
Brooks Nelson
Kirsi JoenpolviSyncros Design
Erika Davis
Norma Jacobs
Donna Miller
gary demos
Dean WalkerMERFFoundation.org
Joe Franklin
David Jauch
Stephanie JenningsWomen Occupy San Diego
ty collinsconcerned citizen
Pauline LipmanUniversity of Illinois at Chicago
Maggie SouderUniversity of California
Jane Chischilly
les roberts
Linda Greene
Jaime Wood

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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