ISE Winter Newsletter 2018




The Institute had a busy fall/winter and we’re gearing up for an exciting spring and summer! Check out our recent and upcoming activities, including a Summer Social Ecology Intensive in June, our Annual Gathering in August, the spring Ecology|Democracy|Utopia online course in March, and a brand new online seminar in April!

Recent and Upcoming Programs

Ecology Democracy Utopia Online Course

Our fall Ecology, Democracy, Utopia seminar was a great success, with 18 students enrolled from across the world including Texas, the Netherlands, Serbia, London, Brazil, Philippines, and one brave soul who joined us at 3 am from Western Australia!

Enrollment is now open for the spring session of the seminar, which will meet weekly Mondays at 1 pm EST from March 12 through April 30th. Write us at to enroll, registration is $100. We also offer a self-directed version of the course, Ecology, Democracy, Utopia FLEX, that can be started at any time for $50.

New Online Course: Societal Transformation Beyond Utopia or Pragmatism

We are excited to offer a brand-new online course: Social Transformation Beyond Pragmatism or Utopia! Taught by long-time ISE affiliate Robert Ogman, this three-session seminar will explore the theoretical and practical dilemmas posed by the tension between utopia and pragmatism in Social Ecology’s political vision. The course will meet on Thursdays at 1 pm EST on April 26, May 3, and May 17. Enroll today!

ISE Summer Intensive: June 8-13 | Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo, WA

We are happy to announce that our next Intensive Seminar will take place in June at the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo, Washington (1 hour from Seattle). The Intensive will bring together activists, students, academics and community leaders for a dynamic week of exploring the struggle for a free society in theory and praxis. We will offer a weekend-only workshop as well as a full 6-day option. The weekend will provide a focused overview of social ecology, followed by four days where we will delve deeper into our conversations about transformative social change and also get out into the community for several action-tours.

We ask for a $60 – $300 sliding scale registration fee for the week, but nobody turned away for lack of funds. For more info or to enroll, email us at

Annual Gathering: August 17-19 – Marshfield, Vermont

Mark your calendars! This year’s ISE Annual Gathering will be held August 17-19th in Marshfield, Vermont. The broad focus will be the opportunities and challenges posed by the exciting growth of municipalist and right to the city movements. Reserve your spot today or propose a panel, talk, or performance at:

Recent News and Blog Posts

Defend Afrin, solidarity with Rojava and the Kurdish Movement

In the wake of Turkey’s attack on Afrin in Northern Syria, we featured an urgent plea for solidarity from from Hawzhin Azeez of the Kobane Reconstruction Board in Rojava:

“In Kobane morale is high. We are cheering on our heroes with great confidence; and we believe that against all odds, against NATO’s second largest military, against the planes bombarding, against all reason and all logic that the heart of Rojava- its democratic and gender empowering soul- will succeed; as we did just three years ago with Kobane … we will do anything, at any cost to defend Kurdistan, defend freedom, defend democracy and all that is sacred in a world torn apart by fascism, capitalism, terrorism.”

The second international meeting on Social Ecology took place this October in Bilbao, Spain. Full report here. The internationalist commune of Rojava also sent a beautiful greeting (in Spanish with English subtitles) to their comrades there, take a look.

ISE board and faculty member Grace Gershuny is working with the newly resurrected Black Rose Books, longtime publisher of Murray Bookchin and other radical thinkers, to republish her book Organic Revolutionary in 2019. Grace also had a recent blog article, “Teaming with Black activists and microbes for the soul of organic,” which asks some hard questions about the food movement: “What can we do to alleviate the unbearable whiteness of organic? How can we work to make healthy, living food that is our human birthright—and access to land and tools to produce it– available to all people?” 

ISE board member Brian Tokar had a new article in the Winter 2018 issue of ROAR Magazine, titled Social Ecology: Communalism Against Climate Chaos – check it out!

“We need to overturn both fossil fuels and the growth economy, and that will require a fundamental rethinking of many of the core underlying assumptions of contemporary societies. Social ecology provides a framework for this.”

ISE co-founder Dan Chodorkoff participated in a panel discussion on “Social Ecology and Urban Movements” in Thessaloniki, Greece this September. He also recently spoke at McGill University in Montreal on “System Change not Climate Change in Trump’s America;” watch the video here.

Pacific Northwest Social Ecology Retreat

A group of social ecologists from Seattle, Olympia, and Portland held a 3-day retreat at an island cabin near Port Ludlow, Washington. They reflected on ongoing work to build municipalist politics in the Pacific Northwest via the Olympia Assembly, Demand Utopia, Seattle Neighborhood Action Coalition, and other activities. Stay tuned for a national municipalist conference and network coming soon!

Speaking of the Pacific Northwest, if you haven’t checked out the Srsly Wrong podcast yet, produced by two social ecologists in Vancouver, B.C., do so now! Entertaining discussions of politics, culture, utopia, and Star Wars. Start with the Google Murray Bookchin episode!

The Growth Paradigm: Measuring Nothing

Chad Frederick’s new book America’s Addiction to Automobiles argues that freeing our cities from automobile dependency requires changing the underlying logic of city governance away from the growth paradigm to a sustainable development paradigm with equity and democratic control at its center. Check out an excerpt on our blog!

“Murray Bookchin has a Posse” Pin Fundraiser!

Our friends from Demand Utopia in Portland made some very cool “Murray Bookchin Has a Posse” pins! Get yours for a minimum $3 donation here, proceeds will go to the first translation of Murray Bookchin’s work in Arabic. Send us your mailing address: Pins are 1″ in diameter.

2017 End-of-Year Fundraising Drive

And finally, many thanks to everyone who responded to our end of the year fundraising appeal! We raised almost $3,000 dollars and received an additional $10,000 matching donation. These funds will help us in our mission of popular education and movement-building for a free and ecological society. These funds will help consolidate and expand our online education programming as well as our June Summer Intensive – thank you to our amazing supporters!

Until next time, stay connected with the ISE through our website, on Facebook and Twitter!