Decentralizing Economic Power, Reinvigorating Democracy: ILSR’s Impact in 2016

As we head into a turbulent era of government, the values and goals of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) remain steadfast. Every day we help communities tap into their own power in order to build a more democratic, equitable, and sustainable future. Our 2016 annual report, Decentralizing Economic Power, Reinvigorating Democracy, illustrates how ILSR’s initiatives have gained important victories, connected with people across the country, and moved the needle on our most important economic and political conversations.

With the generosity of people like you, ILSR, which includes the Community Broadband Networks Initaitive, has been at the forefront of advancing policies and models that support locally driven economies while protecting the climate and reducing inequality. Please take a look through our annual report and donate to support our work.

Here are a few highlights to our work in 2016 that gives insight towards what we’re working toward in 2017:

  • Working alongside grassroots groups, ILSR is changing the rules so that decentralized solar energy, once viewed as a bit player, is beginning to displace centralized, utility monopolies. This year, we launched a Community Power Map to illustrate these successes, and in 2017, we’ll add a power-packed toolkit to help communities across the country take charge of their energy future.
  • Scores of communities have drawn on ILSR’s resources and expertise as they have built publicly-owned telecommunications networks that offer a viable alternatives to the big telecom monopolies. Thanks in large part to our work, Federal Communications Chair Tom Wheeler told members of Congress this year that the restoration of local municipal broadband authority should be their “A-Number One” priority.


  • ILSR’s widely-covered report, Amazon’s Stranglehold, brought new attention to the consequences of corporate concentration and inspired many leaders to join us in calling for a renewal of our once-robust anti-monopoly policies. As we fight concentrated power, we’re also working alongside small business allies to enact new local and state policies that expand access to capital, address rapidly rising rents, and enable local businesses to thrive.
  • Through influential essays, we continue to address the vulnerable state of American democracy and shine a light on strategies for restoring the nation’s capacity for self-governance. Since our in-depth look at the rise of arbitration, for example, the need to restore mechanisms that allow citizens to band together to challenge corporate power has come into the national spotlight.
  • With technical assistance from ILSR, grassroots groups in Baltimore thwarted plans for a large incinerator and are now taking the lead in promoting cleaner and more just alternatives, based on reuse, recycling, and composting, which will create jobs for their city.
  • More than 100 graduates of our community composting training program have taken their skills back to their communities and launched local composting programs that are building healthy soil and food systems through food waste recovery.

Our resolve to decentralize economic power and reinvigorate democracy is stronger than ever. We need your help though. Please consider making a tax-deductible gift today to sustain our work and support the movement for healthy, equitable, and self-reliant communities.

You can also donate by mail:

Institute for Local Self-Reliance

2720 E. 22nd Street

Minneapolis, MN 55406

ILSR’s forward-thinking, bottom-up solutions have never been more needed. Be part of our impact in 2017 by making tax-deductible donation to ILSR.