Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. ― Margaret Mead
I was born and raised in Whittier, California, President Richard Nixon’s hometown, during the years that he was president and sending local boys to kill and be killed in the Vietnam War. In 1972, at the age of fourteen I spent countless afternoons knocking on doors for Senator George McGovern, the eloquent anti-war candidate who was his Democratic opponent that year. McGovern lost by a landslide anyway (not my fault). But the spirit of activism that infected me in that time took hold with a grip that has defined my life.
My activism has taken many turns in nearly half a century. In my hometown I was the bearded teenager who worked in local political campaigns and led a small youth rebellion against police harassment. After college I worked as an assistant in the California Assembly, thought a lot about running for office and turned instead to public interest advocacy work.
In 1992 I founded The Democracy Center because I thought there needed to be a group that would help progressive activists become as powerful as they could be. Nothing makes me crazier than to see powerful and passionate activist energy go wasted because people didn’t think hard enough together about strategy. That work has now run through issues ranging from immigrant rights to climate change, across five continents and three decades. If you want to learn more about the Democracy Center’s work, visit our Web site. But here is a small collection of things that I hope will speak to activists both old and new.
Since I founded the Democracy Center nearly three decades ago we have supported activists all over the world working for social justice and a healthy planet. We do that through trainings, leading campaigns, and award-winning writing that makes the complicated understandable.
In October 2019 I gave the keynote speech at the National Sustainable Communities Conference, speaking about the collision of climate change, a global refugee crisis and the threat to democracy. I also spoke about what gives me hope anyway.
The New York Times special report on our battle against using facial recognition surveillance cameras in schools. Read the article.
How do activists make sure they are making a real difference and not just noise? My article in Stanford Social Innovation Review. Read the article.
Global corporations affect every aspect of our lives. A close up look at the manipulative ways that corporations use to take power and how we fight back, in The Ecologist. Read the article.