Resources for Inspiration and Action (3 parts)
Posted: November 27, 2016

Part A. Events
Part B. Current Messages for Inspiration
–Reactions to U.S. Election
–Standing Rock
–Waging Peace
Part C. Creating New Foundations for Life: Practical 21st Century Initiatives


These are on-going and growing areas of practical activism that are
— attracting women and/or being led by women
— but that are largely being ignored by politicians, officials, and media

There is no way that this can be a comprehensive list of all the good people and projects that are happening. I offer this as a giant and multi-faceted symbol of hope and optimism for replacing a wounded human society with a beautiful and united one — and for identifying real places of positive action in which anyone can engage.


1. Food-and-farm councils
—  Women, Food, and Agriculture Network – WFAN (Ames, Iowa)
— Food Policy Network (FPN) – Johns Hopkins University, Center for a Livable Future
— National Family Farm Coalition  (Washington, DC)
— Real Food Challenge – college student network

2. Public banking, public money
— Public Banking Institute – Ellen Brown, founder
— Debt or Democracy: Public Money for Sustainability and Social Justice – 2015 book by Mary Mellor (UK)
— NEED Act HR 2990 (U.S. House of Representatives): looking for a new Congressional sponsor
— American Monetary Institute (NY)
— Black Church Center for Justice and Equality – Rev. Delman Coates, The New Abolitionism (MD, DC)

3. Participatory democracy, civil discourse, creative conversations
a.  Participatory budgeting
— Participatory Budgeting Project (NY, Chicago, other cities)
— Documentary film about PB in Chicago: Count Me In (Ines Sommer, Sommer Filmworks)
b.  Dialogue & deliberation
— National Coalition of Dialogue & Deliberation (Sandy Heierbacher, PA)
c.  Citizen ballot initiatives (state, local)
— Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, BISC (DC)

4. Cooperative economic models, gift economies
— Gift Economy  – Genevieve Vaughn (TX) (Boston, NYC)  Rosemary Mahoney, Senior Advisor – dubbed the “Queen of Co-ops”
Individual food co-ops (Chicago area):
— Dill Pickle Co-op
— Sugar Beet Co-op
— Rogers Park Food Co-op (a mother-daughter collaboration)

5. Independent and diverse media
— The OpEd Project (NYC)

6. Women’s legal & governance models – historical North America
Barbara Alice Mann – Seneca Bear Clan (Univ. of Toledo) books
— Editor:  Make a Beautiful Way: The Wisdom of Native American Women (4 essays)
— Author:  Iroquoian Women: The Gantowisas

7. Women’s legal & governance models – 21st century U.S.
— Women, Peace and Security Bill of 2016 — U.S. HR5332
Sponsor, Rep. Kristi Noem – SD; co-sponsor, Rep. Jan Schakowsky – IL (my congresswoman)
— Jeannette Armstrong – Okanagan (En’owkin Centre, British Columbia)

8. The Earth: Natural resource conservation & restoration
— Great Lakes Commons
— Derrick Jensen – books, radio podcasts, YouTubes (CA)
— Tree Sisters  (UK)

9. Health (personal & community): Wise women traditions
— Unveiled Wellness – Venessa Rodriguez (Chicago)
— Wise Woman Center – Susun Weed (NY)
— ReVisioning Medicine Council – Deena Metzger (CA)

10. Education (youth): Hands-on, living skills
— National Farm to School (Chicago, DC + 50 state chapters)
— Wisconsin Farmers Union Kamp Kenwood (WI)
— Nature’s Farm Camp (IL)
— Chicago Industrial Arts & Design Center (CIADC) – for adults, too

11. Education (adult): lost histories, practical citizenship
— Suppressed Histories Archives: Restoring women to cultural memory, political analysis, spiritual awareness – books, articles, presentations, archives by Max Dashu (CA)
— An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States – book by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (CA)
— Grassroots groups of all kinds

12. Spiritual technologies
— Birthing paint:  Sacred Link – book by Kay Cordell Whitaker (Santa Fe, NM)
— Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Wisdom: The Feminine Face of Awakening – book of interviews by Rita Marie Robinson (CO)
— The Smell of Rain on Dust: Grief and Praise – book by Martin Prechtel (NM)
— Victor Oddo – 21st Century Lightseeker

13. Peace-making: restorative justice, mediation
— Institute for Circlework – Jalaja Bonheim (Ithaca, NY)
— The Sacred Ego: Making Peace with Ourselves and Our World – book by Jalaja Bonheim
— Inclusive Security trains and advocates for women peace negotiators
— International Institute for Peace – program on women, peace, and security



Count Me In — a new film on real democracy

Count Me In — a new film on real democracy
Money, Voting, and Participatory Budgeting — or what we’ve been missing for 200+ years
Published October 11, 2016

This is a modified version of an announcement originally posted on Oct. 5, 2016 to U.S. food-and-farm networks.
COMFOOD (North America – Tufts University)
Food Policy Networks (North America – Johns Hopkins University)
North American Food Systems Network (Cornell University)
Illinois Local Food and Farms Coalition (Illinois – Yahoo Group)
Advocates for Urban Agriculture (Greater Chicago – Google Group)
Sustain Evanston (Evanston, IL – Google Group)


In a 2009 article, Frances Moore Lappe wrote one of her most memorable lines: “Hunger is not caused by a scarcity of food but a scarcity of democracy.” She wrote this while describing some key public policies put in place by one Brazilian city and by which the city — Belo Horizonte — “ended hunger”.

The three policies were: (1) the creation of a food council, (2) declaration of food as a right, and (3) the use of a specific process that was already in place but doubled in participation when policies #1 and #2 were added. The process is called Participatory Budgeting.

Participatory Budgeting is one of the game-changers that many of us have been waiting for since the American Revolution and since the writing of the U.S. Constitution. A new documentary film, Count Me In, might be the tipping point in helping Americans see what we’ve been missing and why the ultimate goal seems to finally be in our sights: U.S. Democracy — The First Generation.

One might well ask, “What do you mean, First Generation? The U.S. has been in existence since 1776, with an official Constitution since 1789. At 30 years per generation, that would make Americans born in 2016 the 9th generation. ”

But that would be correct only if the U.S. was actually a democracy.  Despite the mythology of the U.S. as a democracy — mythology promoted by most schools, media, government officials, and candidates for public office — the U.S. Constitution was never a democratic document, either in process or in content. And in 2016, 200+ years and 27 amendments later, it still isn’t.

In fact, the U.S. Constitution adopted in 1789 was a regression from the democracy that existed in North America when Europeans arrived. Not only was the Iroquois League already on this land when Europeans arrived.  It had existed for centuries, structured by the Great Law of Peace, also known as the Iroquois Constitution. For about 500 years, the Iroquois Constitution existed before refugees from a beleaguered European populace replaced it with the U.S. Constitution.

In the interests of being witness to the First Generation of U.S. Democracy, here is why I think democracy in the U.S. might become a reality, sooner rather than later.

1. Participatory Budgeting is
— one of many new civic engagement techniques that are being tried by many organizations (including corporations) to increase the democracy level of our group decisions.
— being tried in multiple U.S. locations, in a variety of jurisdictions — ward, municipality, county.
— being facilitated and promoted by a variety of organizations, most notably Participatory Budgeting Project based in New York City.

2. Count Me In — a new independent documentary by a top-notch filmmaker
— follows the Participatory Budgeting process as it has taken place in Chicago, first in the 49th ward (thanks to Ald. Joe Moore) and then in other wards.
— just had its world premiere on Oct 9, 2016 and is scheduled for 155 screenings on public television stations across the U.S. in the next few months.
— is available for community screenings in conjunction with the filmmaker, expert panels, and various partners.

3. Food-and-farm system decisions
— can make effective use of Participatory Budgeting in allocating public resources ($$, land, time, etc.)
— are powerful motivators for voter engagement in civic processes, such as Participatory Budgeting


Here’s the details:

COUNT ME IN: Money, Voting….and Participatory Budgeting in Chicago
by Ines Sommer – Sommer Filmworks

Local public television listings   (Fall 2016)

Watch the trailer

Community screenings
To partner on a community screening, contact Ines Sommer directly.
ines (at)
Send details about your event: date, venue, expected number of audience members, etc.


A Guide to Participatory Budgeting in Schools
by Valeria Mogilevich
with project support from Melissa Appleton and Maria Hadden
Free download  (57 pages)
This manual was developed for schoolteachers and schoolchildren. The process is described in clear, detailed steps and the manual includes worksheets to facilitate the steps.


Participatory budgeting in the U.S. is being promoted and implemented directly by Participatory Budgeting Project, based in New York City. Exec. Director Josh Lerner and Chicago-based Project Manager Maria Hadden are featured in Count Me In.

Here’s the link to Lappe’s 2009 article in YES Magazine.
Food for Everyone:  The City that Ended Hunger
This article demonstrates (a) the power of the food issue to get people involved, and (b) the power of participatory budgeting as the process to organize that involvement.