The Center for Community, Democracy and Ecology (CCDE) is a project of Quitting Capitalism, a research, education and advocacy organization founded in December 2010 to address systemic obstacles to political change. Far too frequently, environmental issues are treated as isolated problems that may be solved technically, without altering political and economic structures. On the contrary, we see ecological devastation as an inescapable byproduct of an economic and political system unconcerned with natural limits or environmental justice.
At the Center for Community, Democracy and Ecology, we think it is time to radically depart from business as usual, abandoning our reliance upon remote, unaccountable corporations to mediate our relationship with nature. We can no longer tolerate the grasping reach of concentrated wealth. The natural world, upon which we all depend for life, can no longer be treated as classical economic theory suggests: a free gift, valueless except as input to the production process.
We believe it is self-evident that life takes precedence over profit, yet the conventional wisdom about environmental protection is that all measures we take must fit neatly into the requirements of our political and economic system, a system that has been captured by the concentrated economic power of massive corporations. The effect of an approach that requires us to work within the constraints of a system dominated by corporate power is to invert the logical ordering of values, prioritizing corporate needs over the requirements of the natural world and rendering us powerless to prevent ecological catastrophe. An economic and political system attuned to the unceasing accumulation and unrestrained concentration of wealth is genetically incapable of preventing environmental devastation.
At the Center for Community, Democracy and Ecology we reject the notion that we are limited in what we may do to protect our world from destruction by what is politically and economically palatable. In fact, the converse is true: our political and economic options are limited by the requirements of the natural world. Ecologically, we must broaden our understanding and use of strategies that regard the environment as a commons, shared with and cared for by all living beings. Politically and economically, we must wrest power from the corporate elite and transfer it to interlinked, resilient, self-governing communities dedicated to nurturing the land, water, air, and natural communities that comprise their local ecosystems.
So how is our work at the Center for Community, Democracy and Ecology shaped by our understanding of the nature of the ecological crisis? We do not work on isolated environmental issues. Instead, we carefully select multi-target projects: positive solutions and action strategies that expose the root causes of injustice and ecological destruction while at the same time creating the building blocks for a just and sustainable world. Opposition to injustice is insufficient. Our critical work must also create just alternatives. We have established the following criteria to guide our work.
The Center for Community, Democracy and Ecology researches and advocates for environmental action strategies and policy proposals that meet all of the following criteria:
- Are built on a foundation of equity, justice and sustainability.
- Illuminate the linkages between and common structural causes of economic, social and environmental issues.
- Advance the principles of environmental and climate justice.
- Build momentum for community-based democratic self-governance.
- Strengthen community-based, human-scale exchange and mutual aid opportunities while weakening remote, corporate-dominated markets, market mechanisms and the structures or institutions that reinforce dependence upon them.
Action strategies and policy proposals meeting all of these criteria will not only address environmental destruction directly but also provide the building blocks for a just society of interlinked resilient communities prepared to live within the rational limits imposed by nature. We hope you will join us in building that world.
Center for Community, Democracy and Ecology