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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

Clare Gunther
Mia BirdsongCanerow
Jerri Lamb
Jamie Zacharias
Mooydeen FreesEpiscopal Church
Larry Bragman
Chris Frater
David GansTruth and Fun, Inc.
David Hardee
Courtney GabinettiThe George Washington University Progressive Student Union
Shan Sweeney
Irene CumminsMs.
Shannon Howard
Paul SteinAlbany CA Unified School District
Katherine WyattMiss
James NewberryMr.
Michael O\'Hara
Kimberley JutzeShifting Patterns Consulting
Colin Beehler
Tamara Palmer
Timothy McCarthyHarvard University
Robyn KeefePlanners On Tour
Bill McAfee
Linda Carroli
Carey GerstenBeacon Food Forest
Patricia Shepard
R. Miles MendenhallGPUS
Anna PollockConscious Travel
Alex ShantzSt. Helena Unified School District, School Board Member
tom bible
Ernest Bornheimerself
Leslie A Gunning
Heidi KingMs.
Paulette MooreStoryDoula
Jason McDonoughGREENTV
David Sutliff-AtiasRochester Free Radio
ahmad javaherian
Mark DunleaGreen Education and Legal Fund
David BarkinUniversidad Autonoma Metropolitana; Mexico
Susan Lovelady
Aryt AlastiResponsible Investment at Harvard
Dennis CaristiMr.
Jonathan Olson
Debora Otteson
Matthew KaprothUniversity of Minnesota
Wallace KatzGlobality Studies Journal, SUNY-Stony Brook
Lizzy Gendell
Doug BogenMr.
Carol Crown
Laurie Goren
Barbara Raives
Saulo ColónNew Politics
Richard van StelStudent
William Hess
Hayden van Andel
Gary KaupmanRetired
Franklin Lacerda
Patrick KeatingRetired
Pete RamseyUniversity of Baltimore
Greg Fortune
Dave Olsen
Harry Kershner
Coty SorbyUniversity of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Pat Evans
J. Abernathy
Sandra Macias
Barbara Micheel
David SoumisVeterans for Peace
Joanne Bermudez
Michelle Stuart
Kevin O\'HareUniversity of Oregon Political Science
Jessica WilsonMrs.
Nigel Jones
Robert CardonaBerlin Mathematical School
Bobby MilsteinReThink Health
Jane EricksonReThink Health
peter brusikTrouble and Maker
LuAnn Cooley
Liz WalkerEcoVillage Ithaca
Alexa StafflerAlexa
Alexis FraszHelicon Collaborative
Steven JayPossibl
Kristen GlauserReThink Health
Aki TetriParecon Finland
Scott VincentCitizen, Activist
Drew Langdon
Dixie Thompson
Helen Forsythe*
Howard Silverman
Christina Cramer
Hank HerreraCenter for Popular Research, Education and Policy
Ronnie DuggerReporter & writer self-emplyed
Orion KriegmanInstitute for Policy Studies
David Scheel
Karen Taghi ZoghiMiami Dade College
cheryl higgins
Melina PlanchenaultCanadian and French citizen
caleb rockenbaughisideo
Brian EmersonThe Rethink Project, Local Futures
Christopher ClementUniversity of Vermont Gund Institute for Ecological Economics
Jeff Burdges
David WeickertMr.
David P. Michener, M.D.
Marvyn Morrison
Vinita Ricks
Robin Lehmanself
Ahren Stroming
Stephanie CohenMs.
Lee Burkettnone
carol lynn
Elliott FisherThe Dartmouth Institute
Kushaan ShahSocial Rise
Ron MillerNew Visions Foundation
Erick HerouxPortland Right to the City Coalition
Eva HermogenesBlue Sky Zen
Hackler Mark
Daniel Baxter
Ryan SalisburyTransferics Institute
Evan Girard
Jack Jack Tuholskepublic interest attorney
Craig BrownCommon Dreams
Karen Cooling
Eilish ZembilciThe Food Justice Alliance
Edward SnyderExec.Secty Emeritus,Friends Comtee on Natl Legis\'
Bob Raymond
Reinhold Asbeck
Mayana KingeryPeace Production
Monica Dyer
David Ward
Leah Smith
Farhad Farahmand
Brian Johnson
JoseLeonardo ZunigaParadoxInfinity
Frances Nichols AnglinHumanity\'s Team
Dana FraszFood Shift
Aaron RenaudGreen Party of Texas
Karen Jensen
Janice CollettIgniting Creativity: We Do It With Music!
Aareon Harreld
Concerned CitizenMoscow State University
Shelly Hollidaynone
Vlad Ryziw
Anne Macksoudwww.olddogdocumentaries.org
John Niki
mark molin
Raychel Santo
John McGowan
Nancy Fassinger
john cole meekerSea of Change Trading Co
Adam Klaus
Robin Rose BennettWiseWomanHealingWays and Sustainable West Milford
medora woods
Patricia TovarThe Butterfly Effect Project
Halina BrownClark University
Caroline ConleyShoreline Community College
Rachel Preston PrinzArchinia
francis halverson
Matthew EppersonDaily Groceries Co-op
Jarret HorstFilms For Action Baltimore, The Zeitgeist Movement, more
Sam PizzigatiInstitute for Policy Studies
Tonja Wilcox
Tammy WH-FisherCuriositeej Dolls & Collectibles
Lindsay CurrenCurren Media Group
Allyshia RhetaMediator
Dara YaskilCommunity Strategy Lab
Jenise Fryatt
Shelley VillalobosCouncil for Responsible Sport
Sandy Mabery
Suzanne Rose
Ashley Moy Wooten
Dawn RehmIndependent Consultant, international Economics and Transparency
Steve McCready
Kel Vannoy
Connie picard
Michael Duff
Glen SavoyUnited States of America
Regina Mazzuca
Thomas SimonMr.
Brian Chamowitz
Susan SmithCandidate for local office
Helena Drummond
Cindi Landreth
Sara Lawrence
dawnmarie metz
David Hamm
Alyssa RohrichtBlack Cat Revolution
Bonnie May
Michael Newman
Timothy Barchak
Shara GonzalesNew Beginnings, Inc.
Janet Kingsley
Harry Waisbrenact.tv
Daniel Lynch
Chia-Wei Chao0Green Citizen Action Alliance (Taiwan
Kirk deFord
Howard WinantUC Santa Barbara
Tony Henderson
Carmen TenEyck-McDowellEvergreen Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Kimberly Rexhttp://www.windowstotheheart.nte
Don Johnson
Carol HandRetired - Independent
kevin sims
Patty Fitzgerald
Ronald WaltersRetired
marc passen
Andy WillisLogan Square Ecumenical Alliance
Toni SegerWe MAD- Western Maine Against Deforestation
Abbie Watters
susan wilcoxSisters of St. joseph, Brentwood NY
Monica GetzCoalition for Family Justice
Alegria Barclay
Shirley McMullen
Kathleen Finnerty
Gary WhittenbergerDr.
Spencer WilliamsInstitute [on/of] Change
Eric Walle
Jim MeltonSelf
bob speiser
Phebe Gustafsonbeingchange.org
Wayne Gustafson
evelyn butler
Richard HazardMr.
Kathleen ZorkoMs.
Steve Jenkins
Gina Dennis
Sue Kollernone
renato inaciowaru
Myo Nyuntpolitical economist Myanmar
Kim LynnKepis & Dream Catchers, LLC
Holly Padgett
William Crosby
Alanna MarkleFirsthand Cooperative
harry Towne
Wyndham Boulterhumans on earth
Maenda Fortier
Javiera AlarconIPS
Rebecca MillerWalk onthe Wildside
susan johnson
Leslie ScottEntrepreneurial Places
Connie GordonThe Episcopal Church
Evelyn Sherwinrealsmalltowns.com
Robin Mallery
Beverly JonesEconomics of Compassion Initiatives
Melanie RestallMelanie\'s Meadow
cynthia thibeau
Stephen Fulham
Raines CohenCohousing California
Shabrayle Setliff
Dorothea BrauerUniversity of Vermont
Francesca PavoneSex Drugs and Honest Education
Michael Murphy
Thomas Clark
Devan Fava
Thom CarnevaleMember, Telluride Town Council
Carryl KingtonCountonCarryl
Susan Carlson
Annemarie Parrish
Tapani KöppäUniversity of Helsinki
Glenn Kuschke
Suzanne Koehler viewedAguaVerde Eco-Services
Amy Sorensen
Malcolm Smith
Susan Guest
Joseph LinghamNhs
Lisa Baker
marianne rossconcerts in the country
Steven Jones
Alan JenkinsMr.
Stephen Warren
Lori HeathGrand Design
Diane Dellicarpini
Michael MenserParticipatory Budgeting Project
Bethany SpielmanSouthern Illinois University
Russell WallackAppleseed Permaculture
Deborah Ronnquist
Ally YoungDill Pickle Food Co-op
Ray BarnesCedar grove
Susan SingerSingerSCPM.com
Sandra Hucher
Steven PalmerCitizens Cooperative
george ritter
Anne Wright
Bren SmithGreenWave
Sue Gibson
Judy Rigmont
jeff jonesunion representative
Martha Klinereligious institutions
ralph cioffi
John D. Vedilago Sr.
Ralitza Nikolaeva
Elaine Hartleyoccupycomo
Margaret Stout West Virginia University
Ismael Al-AmoudiCardiff University Business School
Robert StairHuman Being
Bill Veltrop10X Shift
Asar Amen-RaUnited Auto Workers (UAW)
Matthew Read
Melissa Corbett
Aaron Bennett
Steve LeavittCUPE
Michael CornellColumbia Council, Howard County, MD
Iraida Alvarado
Fred Watstein
Kenneth Miyazaki
Cassandra Fralix
Beth Lively
Arielle Clynes
Tim DaltonTime Bank of West Milford, NJ
charles garland
Cheli Bremmer
Tarah Herrington
Rebecca Lennon
Aliou BarryStat View International
Carl Kaunnone
Cheryl White
Linda Menard
azad mtunzi
Blagoy BlagoevFreie Universität Berlin
Mike Nelson
Maria RamirezNone
Melsa AraratSabanci University Corporate Governance Forum
jenny andersson
Sophia Hughes
Theo Cedar Joneseverybody all at once
Gendun LosangNalanda Monastery
Oyvind K Nilsen
Jennifer Chin
Ricardo Silva
Alex Zlat
Amani Al-TaroutiUIC,UMICH,UM
Steven MyburghPrivate
Michael Paul AndersonClientworks, Inc.
peter babineau
Laura KlinkonMyself
Geoff McNeelyThe Savantiq Group
Megan HobzaWhittier Time Bank
Phoebe ChatfieldFossil Free Yale
Sarah Luthens
Dina Emerson
Elliott WatsonUFCW member
Alexandra Carbone
Jonathan Blumberg
Lucinda Tyler
Bob SchuesslerSeattle Colleges
Orlando ArenasPuente Human Rights Movement
Nathan Marcy
Miroslav SteinerThe Czech Society for Employee Participation, civic association
Kimball MacKay
Charles Merricks
Irene MorganRestorative CommUnity Coalition
Elva Redwood
Rani CroagerUptima Business Bootcamp
Paul Harms
danny choriki
Em Hansen Trent
Debra DavidMs.
Jeanette BaustTogether Colorado, Black Lives Matter, No Enemies
Kera Anderson
Tony Imbimbo
kevin gripp
Aiden SislerMfM
John CaldwellMr.
Sarah McUmber-House
Pamela Richey
Jean Teach
John PenningtonDr.
Joanne Tomarchio
Devin Henry
Brett levin
Colin Blundell
Danielle Anderson aDandeLife
Terrance Dunn
Zack Malitz
David KupferSan Francisco Green Map
John Reed
Lee White
Joel Gluck
Rob MartinUnited Virginia Education Fund
Susan Zakin
Eric Marsh
George ReinhardtNoyo Headlands Unified Design Group
Ashley Ortiz
Katharine CotrellMs.
Esteli Bowman-Rivera
Brittney Potvin
David CummingsCitizen
Jaime Salgado
Brian Gaidryhawkwing
Tom Ackerson
Sue Olivier
Elaine RyderTransition Berkeley
Dennis ChurchEcoSpeakers.com
Sandra HartFirst Unitarian Church, Portland, OR
Karen Simmons
Janet Black
Amie Myers
Matthew Parks
Thomas Roepke
Mary Pettigrew
Eric PetersonThe Outdoor Adventure Leader
Gregory Rossi
Dean SmithTransition Port Gardner
Kenneth JonesSystem Change Not Climate Change
Robin Karr-MorseThe Parenting Institute
joyce banzhafMrs.
Miguel Castellon
Susan Waite
Adam HorowitzU.S. Department of Arts and Culture
David Philpot
Peter BeleyHuman Beings
Peter Brown
Pamela Styrsky
Teresa FosterSustainable Revolution Longmont
nadine bloch
Justice Calo ReignSusty Entertainment
Coralie RyanEcophix
lisa hamiltonadvocate
Bobbie Flowers
Viki SonntagEcoPraxis
Emily Norton
elisabeth smith
Donald Zedde
Shashank ShahModular Miniplants
Richard Jefferiesself
Zac Tomas
Danny SpitzbergPeak Agency
Persephone Maywald
Herschel Easley
Florence MoyerFlorence Moyer, LLC
Robert Powell
charlene pollardMs.
Mark Kloster
James Williams
Emma CornellConscious Life Ecumenical Union
Bethany Vosburg-BluemOtterbein University
Seamus Enright
deanne row
Suzanna Finley
James Cheskyself
Amos Tevelow
William MurphyMr.
Jae-pyeong YangGreen Party of Korea
Leo McDevitt
Kaleopono NorrisWorking on this...
Liz Mclellan
Michael James-DeramoVirginia Student Environmental Coalition / Divest VA
Carolyn BoyceCornell University
Carol Klein
Sue Goodman
Leonard JoyQuaker Institute for the Future
Stephen KaplinGreat Small Works
Bryn ClarkNew Harmony Center for Health & Wellness
Brandon Bausher
Emily Anderson
Michael Beeler
Raja Mukherjee
Christine Lanser
JIm Wall
Joanne Sunshower
Kay Engler
Daniel HongOccupy Portland/Strike Debt Portland
Conor Murphy
Cheryl Gregory Human Race
Kathleen GilliesKathleen Gillies
Charles Lynch
Joshua Wolfson
Reginald Johns
Doug Blair
Elizabeth Maxon
Nelson LynchWorldwide Family Reunion
Curtis Paullins
Kevin Facer
Elizabeth MarcusTransition Newburyport
steve paveyHope In Focus
kent willson
Siobhan Gwozdz
Rev Yolanda BrownImani\'s Quest Ministries
Brian DeisKentuckians for the Commonwealth
Sky BlueFellowship for Intentional Community
John FaustSelf
Kerry BennettGreen Desert Sanctuary
Donna Abear
justine cooperMs.
Zach Taras
Paul MontgomeryMr.
Walter Knausenberger
J Beverly
Harper Marten
James Molnar
Charles Boardman
Bhikkhu BodhiBuddhist Global Relief
Linda Walsh
Bill Hooson
Keith HelmuthQuaker Institute for the Future
astaras lovehumanity
Cole HarrisonMassachusetts Peace Action
Trish Goodvin
Mark StewartCircle of Collaborative Communities
katie nauthjust me
Ariel BickelChispa Consulting
Alan Barbier

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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