Social Ecology Blog

Education for Social Change

This essay by ISE co-founder and board chair  Dan Chodorkoff was originally presented in 1998 at the annual reunion of the famed Modern School, based in NY City and New Jersey and founded on the  principles of the Spanish anarchist educator Francisco Ferrer. It has been updated and will appear in a forthcoming collection of Dan’s essays, to be published in 2014 by New Compass Press in Norway.

We face an unprecedented crisis of global dimensions, an interlinked social and ecological crisis. The survival of life on earth as we know it requires new thinking and creative solutions. Those solutions […]

US Occupy Movement at the Front Lines of the Crisis

An essay by ISE alum, Rob Ogman, available in full at
Three years after the financial meltdown of 2008, the U.S. Occupy movement opened the possibility for a left regroupment against resurgent neoliberalism. Yet the forceful eviction from the squares just two months after the movement emerged, cut short the development of such a constituting power, of a historic bloc of the “99%.”
… Since the evictions, multiple initiatives were formed to carry forward the struggles: The “Occupy Our Homes” network combats foreclosures; campaigns to support workers’ struggles against precaritization; projects push for debt relief; and “Occupy Sandy” provided grassroots […]

“The Fallen,” by Chaia Heller

Tonight we were eating turkey burgers on our deck. The pooling heat of the day had drained, leaving behind an unexpected cool stillness that lured us gingerly back outside. I set the table for dinner, putting life into place, when all of the sudden: a thump. A soft landing of new life, warbling around in a black silveryness on the deck. A baby sparrow had fallen from its nest, lobbed itself to the deck’s edge, falling onto the grass below. It had spilled from an ill-constructed nest built by well-meaning sparrow parents under the balcony outside our bedroom, the […]

On OWS’ 2-year anniversary, 3 new Occupy books

September 17th is the 2-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, and all the kindred movements that spun off from that incredible day in lower Manhattan.  Al Jazeera America offers reviews of 3 new Occupy books that have just been released:
Nathan Schneider ‘s “Thank You, Anarchy: Notes From The Occupy Apocalypse” (University of California Press)
Mark Bray’s “Translating Anarchy, The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street” (Zero Books)
David Graeber’s “The Democracy Project: A History, A Crisis, A Movement” (Spiegel and Grau)
You can read the review at Some excerpts are also available to read at the usual online book outlets.


VT History panels on communes & cooperatives

ISE faculty and board members Dan Chodorkoff and Grace Gershuny are presenting on 2 panels for the Vermont History Association’s annual meeting, Sat. Sept. 21st at the Pavilion auditorium next to the VT State House in Montpelier.
Dan will be on the “Colleges and Communes” panel at 1:15 and Grace is on a Cooperatives panel at 2:30.  Dona Brown of the University of Vermont is offering a keynote address on cooperatives and communes in Vermont at 11 am.  The invitation to this event acknowledges the central role of the Institute in the development of “communes, co-ops, farmers markets and the […]

Vermont Yankee is closing!

Let’s celebrate, unify allied struggles, and focus on fights to come

By Ben Grosscup

The announcement this week that Vermont Yankee – the 41 year old nuclear power plant in southern Vermont that has been an object of derision for decades for anti-nuclear social movement activists – will be closed is an opportunity for climate justice and anti-nuclear movements to clarify that our fight is not only against this particular form of extreme energy. Rather we need to focus on the social arrangements that produce the need for these destructive technologies – a set of arrangements that both further and depend […]

What would real democracy look like?

Norwegian social ecologist Camilla Hansen, a member of the New Compass publishing collective, has posted an exceptionally comprehensive overview of current models of direct democracy that are in use today around the world.  Camilla offers a clear analysis of the potentialities of each model, the obstacles to their fullest realization, and the need for a more systemic approach.

The full paper appears at, and was re-posted by ZNet and ROAR Magazine. Here’s a brief excerpt that helps convey its overall outlook:
A real democracy, [in contrast to elite-dominated representative systems], is a direct and participatory democracy, in which all citizens have the […]

A French fiction on municipal direct democracy

Vincent Gerber in Geneva writes:

Hadrien Delahousse, whom some of you met in Vermont last year [and at the TRISE meeting in Greece –ed.], has lent me an interesting book (in French) : “La commune libre de Saint-Martin” by Jean-François Aupetitgendre (pseudonym), edited by Les éditions libertaires in 2012.

It could be called a political fiction. The author tells the story of a commune (of 5,000 people) that starts to develop parallel power and to function as a direct democracy. He presents the different problems that come out and how the people organize themselves to overcome them. It is really close […]

Book Review: Gunnar Rundgren’s “Garden Earth”

Garden Earth: From Hunter and Gatherer
to Global Capitalism and Thereafter
by Gunnar Rundgren

Reviewed by Grace Gershuny

Gunnar Rundgren is well known in the international organic community as an articulate leader, consultant, theorist, and practitioner of organic agriculture world wide.  A founder of the influential Swedish organic certification program KRAV, he later became President of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), helping transform it from a highly Euro-centric organization to one with strong representation from every continent.  His consulting organization, Grolink, helps train organic farmers in Africa and has advised several UN agricultural programs.  Grolink also publishes an electronic newsletter […]

Social Ecology at the annual Left Forum (NYC, June 7-9th)

For the first time in many years, the ISE is presenting a panel at the annual Left Forum, at Pace University, next to City Hall Park in New York City.  Please join us!

The revolutionary project of social ecology
Sunday, June 9th, 12 noon, Room E307

With Brian Tokar, Dan Chodorkoff, Chaia Heller, and Eleanor Finley

Since the 1960s, social ecologists have advanced a revolutionary outlook that examines the problematic relationships between society, capitalism, social hierarchy and the natural world. Three generations of social ecologists will discuss social ecology in historical, philosophical, and political terms, focusing significantly on social ecology’s political strategy, which […]