Dear Friends of the Institute for Social Ecology,
We are living in a moment of overlapping social, political, and ecological crises. Authoritarianism and fascism continue to grow, as rising nationalism, racism, and xenophobia undermine democracy across the globe. Meanwhile, the climate crisis is already here, fueling unprecedented wildfires, ocean acidification, climate migration, and a host of other environmental problems.
These social and ecological crises demand visionary new ideas and radical alternatives. The Institute for Social Ecology (ISE) has been developing such alternatives for 45 years, providing educational programs and assistance to social and political movements informed by a community-centered vision of positive, ecologically-oriented social change. The ISE has been a pioneer in articulating a holistic analysis of the overlapping crises we face, and a radically democratic political vision for moving beyond them.
2019 was another exceptional year of growth, inspiration, and exciting new developments for the ISE. In June, our annual Social Ecology Intensive in Vancouver, B.C. brought together more than 50 participants with ISE faculty and local activist/scholars for four days of transformative education. In August, our 2019 annual gathering attracted organizers and scholars from across North America and featured a wide variety of workshops and panel discussions, including an inspiring keynote presentation by representatives of Cooperation Jackson on building political and economic democracy in Mississippi. And in September, after two years of work supported by the ISE, the inaugural Symbiosis Congress of Municipal Movements took place in Detroit, Michigan, and successfully launched a new federation of groups dedicated to building radical democracy and solidarity economies across North America.
Our online courses continue to expand, with over 150 students from around the world enrolled this year. We added a timely new online course to our curriculum, Understanding Antisemitism, and will soon launch a new seminar on Frankfurt School Critical Theory in collaboration with scholars from the U.S. and Germany. The ISE’s international networking has expanded our Global Allies page to include new collaborators in Croatia, the U.K., and New Zealand, and we’ve recently added a new resource that collects social ecology resources in a variety of world languages. In fact, the ISE funded the first-ever Arabic translation of Murray Bookchin’s work, “The Communalist Project” (المشروع المشاعي) in 2019.
In December, we relaunched Harbinger: A Journal of Social Ecology, providing a vital online forum for sustained exploration of practical and theoretical questions relevant to social ecology. We’ve also steadily expanded our social media presence in the past year, tripling our Twitter followers, promoting original writing on our blog, and uploading many great new videos on our YouTube channel.
The ISE Climate Justice Project continues to influence policy debates and foster networking within the climate movement. In addition to lectures in New York and Greece, Project Director Brian Tokar has been publishing prolifically, including an upcoming co-edited collection on international grassroots responses to climate change, Climate Justice and Community Renewal. And our faculty and board members continue to be thought leaders in a wide variety of fields spanning academia, publishing, social movements, and community organizing.
To build on and expand this important work, our goals for 2020 include: (1) organizing a week-long seminar in New York State in June; (2) expanding our online course offerings and enhancing their technical quality; (3) developing new media by funding a social ecology podcast, comic project, and more translations; and (4) expanding the scope of our climate justice work.
Our educational efforts have influenced generations of educators and organizers who have brought the ideas of social ecology to the forefront of almost every major social movement of the past four decades. Today, this critical and visionary work is more important than ever. With your help, we can continue to provide a unique space for transformative popular education, developing bold new ideas, and movement-building. Your support will allow us to continue pursuing our mission: education and action for building a truly free and ecological society.
Please consider making a donation to support our ongoing efforts.
I guarantee your contribution will be put to good use.
Thank you for your support,
ISE Co-Founder and Board Chair