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MONEY, ART, & GOD Towards Power and Transition for the Next System Elizabeth Maxwell // December 2016

0 Power 101 Let's begin with the fundamentals of power distribution in all economic systems: labor & capital. Thanks to much of the brilliant thinking already put in on this front — and despite failures of past models (capitalism, socialism, etc) to equitably build sustainable market systems that function long-term for both people within a society and the planet at large — it seems quite clear that transitioning the global economy towards a democratized system of shared wealth & ownership, is the only truly viable road forward. This macro, mega-mission is bold but must be seen as inevitable for all who still believe in equality, justice, human rights, basic human dignity, & the possibility of democracy. Creating the roadmap for this transition, sharing the wild and achievable hopefulness of this new ideology, and scaling the infrastructure for implementation and communities of practice is the work of our times.  Let us also state right up front: the climate is the game changer, the ticking clock, the urgent reality confronting and implicating all humans who are alive on the planet at this moment in time. We must consider thoughtfully our historical context, what’s been tried and learn from successes and trials of the generations and ancestors who have come before us — but as all great visionaries know, just because it has not been done before does not mean it is impossible. Whether we like it or not - thanks to the urgency of the time at hand, NOW is the time for global systems shift. NOW is the time when all humans alive on the planet must be called forth to work together and co-design actionable roadmaps for a greater, collective good. NOW is the time for alliances of allies, coalitions of coalitions, movement of movements. If we don’t, then who will? Yes, of course it is quite complex. And inevitably messy. And won’t be solely designed through a series of essays - as the next stage of implementation will immediately reveal a thousand learnings, micro points of adjustments, framing shifts, and the inevitability of the long road ahead to build meaningful partnerships across disparate groups each with varied stakeholders, priorities, reporting structures, urgencies of sub-agendas, not to mention budgets, boards, personal lives of all parties involved, etc.

But we have no choice but to take a deep breath and continue forth, one day at a time. And I hope that fellow comrades can take refuge in the truth: that The Great Work has already begun. The intention of this essay is to sketch out thoughtfully on a few themes I believe need to be considered more thoroughly in order to fully transition to a Next System. I hope the plain, straightforwardness of “Money, Art, & God” serves as interesting jumping off points to explore the complex nature of economic, cultural, and religious systems that deeply influence our socio-political realities — and are intended to be helpful, fresh ways of looking at paradigm shift. Although much great work has certainly been put in on each front, I hope to weave together the relatedness of these three central elements of power that have been so significant in the development of almost every society and culture throughout the ages. I’ve tried to plant seeds for some bold ideas and outline actionable steps where possible, and submit to the collective hive mind for further consideration.

1 Money

…and Politics

I believe that the bulk of progressive, collective brain power has already developed substantial proposals for new economic paradigms, so I won’t spend much time here.1 It makes sense that this has been a primary focus, given the tangible, real-world implications of market systems and economic prosperity (not to mention our Western values that tend to place the accumulation of money, capital, and financial wealth above all else.) The rise of impact investing, triple bottom line businesses, B Corporations, social enterprise, divest-invest campaigns, wealth-building cooperatives, democratized ownership, etc. points to significant shifts already underway thanks to the growing social consciousness of the business sector — or rather, the cross-sector realizations that “doing well and doing good” are not mutually exclusive. Let us keep in mind that the majority of these initiatives have only really begun to approach scale in the U.S. in the past five to twenty years2 . However, as many of us know and feel, these metrics alone are not sufficient to measure human happiness, prosperity, actualization, or a healthy and fulfilling life - or collectively, a healthy society. 3

But first, we have to talk about…our new reality. Before we can fully dive in and look at these for-profit-for-good industry trends along with broader economic policy — let’s zoom out a bit in light of the new, ever-unfolding See: focus of many existing next system proposals, Institute for New Economic Thinking series of research papers, are amongst the vast array of existing thought leaders participating in vibrant dialogue around alternative economics. 1

Although it seems clear that a few new legal structures, accounting mechanisms, etc. are the innovative elements here. Hopefully they serve to give new language and credibility for values and ideas that have long been present, now newly able to build power for such concepts in board rooms, weave into strategic planning, quarterly goals, etc. 2


See: work of Charles Eisenstein, Riane Eisler, etc.

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political nightmare in the U.S. after November 9. As many have said, an establishment Democrat would also not have been a win for the types of significant, long-term systems shift we’re discussing here. However, it is clear that the new, frighteningly tangible potential for climate devastation, short-term isolationist debt-based economic strategies, and commitment to ignoring wealth inequality (much less addressing methods for equitable redistribution), add wild new variables to the current equation. I’ve been thinking repeatedly since 11/9: Donald’s election is at best annoying and at worst the apocalypse. Annoying in the sense that it’s immensely distracting; the apparent lack of a cohesive plan coupled with celebrity/attention-based machismo means we’re far from discussing thoughtful policy pros and cons, much less implementing strategies that would meaningfully build wealth for low-income populations, create sustainable and affordable food systems, address the grand inequities structural racism has created in modern society, etc. Each tweet adds fuel to the fire, giving us something new to rage against, be appalled and shocked by, obsess over with worrisome fear, as we mourn the slow degradation of our civil liberties and tragedies of violence and hatred along the way. Apocalypse in the sense that we all knew the road ahead wasn’t easy anyway, and the amount of unknowns, new variables, and consistent choice of battles we’ll surely be up against for the years ahead mean the constant navigation of long-term and short-term priorities in building a more sustainable world is now hanging in a delicate balance, that could be upended and burn up in flames the world as we know it in any number of ways (See: nuclear war, climate catastrophe, etc.). Of course it’s not over til it’s over, as long as there are good people who live and believe in freedom, equality, and justice the battles will continue…but I worry deeply about the wasted time and energy that it means to navigate a constantly shifting landscape, and tragically avoidable human loss and suffering that is likely to occur along the way. 4 The world changed on November 9, and we will now have to choose over and over again which battles to fight in the years ahead. Much like personal psychological studies that have pointed out how consistent decision-making opportunities results in exhausted brain power and poorer results — we are now collectively going to be in this moment for some time to come, and will need to figure out the ways to navigate this - individually, within organizations, within sectors and industries, within global alliances and aligned movements. Many grassroots movements will surely feel an immediate boat rock (long

We also must acknowledge that it is a privilege to worry about the state of the world; I want to recognize that as a white middle-class female, I am unlikely to personally experience the depths of suffering that come from lack of affordable housing, living on the frontlines of climate change without other economic choices, broken healthcare system without access to medicine or care, etc. It seems important to continue to name “what we’re up against” explicitly, to acknowledge who will pay the price as “the left” intellectually reconfigures it’s strategy — the innate luxury of those who have time to wait, to try something new, and those who don’t. 4

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struggles for policy wins suddenly off the table or much further out, but likely paralleled with uptick of donations and swelling of volunteer energy, as committed supporters within their base are suddenly looking for something tangible to DO in the face of a country/world that doesn’t make sense anymore). The danger lies in shifting to a complete short-term/reactive strategy, ignoring potential for broader alliances and shoving aside long-term thinking because everything seems so urgent and immediate. And yes, the dangers are immediate, and real, and we will have to find some ways to engage on that front as well. We simply have to do both. We have to be thinking long-term (let’s say, 1-7 generations ahead), simultaneously as we address our more short-term (let’s call them 0-20 years horizon) challenges as they come up. Here’s a short list of political reforms that seem especially crucial after November 9, that are absolutely essential to further discussions of long-term system changing strategies: ✦ We

must update the electoral college, as it’s crippling the foundation of American democracy and the ability for the people to give power candidates of choice to represent their interests in local/state/national spheres (luckily, there are already existing thoughtful strategies and proposals to do just that). ✦ We must get money out of politics, as it’s paralyzing opportunities for democratically elected leaders to represent the interests of their constituents and create a viable, functional public sector that is actually looking out for the interests of the public good (::ahem:: its original and much needed role — after all, what use does it serve, if the public sector in effect is just another private entity?). ✦ We probably need to reconfigure the branding/make-up of political parties within the U.S. 5 — and ideally moving beyond outdated two-party system that doesn’t exist in other functional democracies — in order to have any chance of creating more representative constituent bases for the broad array of serious issues and topics of interest on the people’s mind. These are bi-partisan issues at the core of our democracy. Recently, I heard someone make the point that the constituent base in U.S. post-November 9 is more appropriately described as ‘bottom vs top’ than ‘left vs right’, recognizing that economic inequality is truly at the heart of a great many of debates and core voter issues. I agree with this perspective, and would further say that here’s the best part about thinking through that lens: math is on our side. Money and power may be stacked against us in the current political economic system, but history has shown that this makeup is ultimately unsustainable when the majority of people (and let’s keep in mind, we’re not talking This is not as scary or unfathomable as it sounds to most Americans; may we remember that political parties within the U.S. have evolved multiple times since the founding of American democracy, and a handful of times in this century alone. The words ‘Democrat’ and ‘Republican’ don’t mean anything except the power/meaning we the people imbue them with, and our contemporary times are begging for a national rebranding as much as they have at other core historical moments 5

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about 51% or 60% — we are literally talking about 1% accumulation of wealth and power, just like in the days of kings) are not sharing in a society’s prosperity. The bottom line is Occupy got it right — the 99% are being screwed by the 1%, by extreme wealth inequality unlike we’ve ever seen before in modern history. The 99% will win. Now is the time to get organized, think big, listen deeply, and commit ourselves for the long haul. We have no time to wait (See: ticking climate). Annoying/apocalyptic as it is, it seems apparent that we can expect at least a grand lack of progressive leadership from the public sector in the U.S. for years to come, potentially a decade or two as whatever harm that is able to be done will have to be undone, rewritten, counteracted, etc. Perhaps the most important lesson for privileged Americans, who have been lucky enough to be a part of the richest country in history — is that we are not immune from political dystopias. We have not done a good enough job protecting ourselves from the possibilities of fascist/authoritarian take over, and now we are living in a world where all the rules of the game have changed. The good news is that we were trying to rewrite those rules anyway. And out of chaos comes immense possibility and opportunity. We’re about to find out, for better or worse, so let’s see what we can do in the meantime.

Back to economics, and 5 critical underlying points With our new political reality in mind, I’d like to propose a few radical economic principals as we grapple with the appropriate role and character money serves in our next system, and consider viable transitions to move in that direction:

1. We Must Prefiguratively Build New Market Systems This is back to the boatloads of great work already being done in this space via impact investing, cooperatives, social enterprises, ESOPs, triple bottom line companies, etc. I am suggesting that we begin to consider this work in a slightly different frame — moving beyond current perception of tools that have begun to create slight cracks/disruptions in the dominant consumer capitalist paradigm, and into the creation of sub-markets, slowly building momentum and gaining strength as an ever growing amount of capital and consumer spending begin to implicitly create viable market alternatives for all who wish to participate. The shift is subtle, but over time I wonder: could sustainable industries evolve in each sector that could be seen as independent and functioning alternatives to existing market paradigms? Could impact funds have their own stock exchange? Could a “Next Market” create enough products for ordinary citizens to purchase all goods from local or sustainably

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owned companies, basic checking and savings accounts in a sustainable bank, retirement funds in socially responsible investments…? It’s interesting to consider the amassed potential impact of individual lifestyles on larger systems —- i.e. to what extent one can live/purchase sustainably & responsibly if one wanted to? And what is the obligation/opportunity of markets to provide these viable alternatives at scale if we truly want to create new options for the majority of the populous? (This last point seems imperative, lest “socially & environmentally responsible” lifestyles further evolve into privileged, elite spheres where only those who can afford to pay $9/carrot have the option to participate.)

2. Divest/Invest Is the Main Frame As the market works to provide these new opportunities at scale, for every day consumers the primary storytelling and ethos to work within will probably look something like “Divest/ Invest,” a term that has successfully been used as part of climate justice movement to encourage investors to not just divest from fossil fuels, but to also proactively invest that money in climate health or clean energy solutions. I would propose that as momentum continues around leveraging that concept within the climate movement, a similar campaign could be developed and extended to build a broad base of consumer support around sustainable industries at large. For example, the same principles are basically at work in #MoveYourMoney campaigns, in which folks are encouraged to divest from the big banks and invest into credit unions, local banks, CDFIs, etc. — or #BuyLocal initiatives, where consumers are encouraged to stop buying from global corporate food giants and instead purchase locally based alternatives (farmer’s markets, etc). Food and banking are just two examples of industries already creating sustainable market alternatives, and a great number of certification projects, PR campaigns, etc are further in development to help consumers recognize these numerous choices available to them at every moment. More recently, targeted economic boycotts are growing and increasingly important initiatives, specifically @WeWillBoycott in a strategic campaign protesting ongoing racial-based violence, police brutality, and systemic injustice in cities across U.S., and #GrabYourWallet campaign specifically reacting to Trump’s presidency. I think it’s important to balance the ethical calling to participate in these initiatives, and the potential for mass coordinated, people-powered economic strategies…with the realities of power as currently structured in our existing economic system. For example, 5 of the U.S. big banks own nearly half of the financial industry, which is why many in the impact investing space are calling for institutional investors to join the movement in order to shift a significant / tipping point of capital towards impact. It is also for this reason that we must stay vigilant around the specifics of “impact investing”, continuing to hold ourselves accountable even within new, progressive, well-intentioned markets on true impact, who the profits and wealth are returning to, and who is implicitly or explicitly being invited to get on the boat.

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3. The revolution may be privately financed — and that might be ok. If we agree with the radical, uncomfortable truth that the public sector has, in effect, already been purchased and is currently functioning like a private corporation — the question here is how can a coalition of citizens step in and support? This is a tricky one, as the privatization of social services and public good is a thorny issue that my personal radical liberal self has long rallied against. However, given the reality of our new political situation within the U.S., it seems worth coming to terms with our current situation and finding ways to move forward in the meantime if progressive public funding and meaningful reform is essentially off the table for the immediate future. The good news is the rise of impact investing, progressive leadership from private forces - foundations, HNWIs (billionaires’ "Giving Pledge", Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Coalition, etc) — are already leading the way. While ultimately to build sustainable, functional new economic paradigms for the next several hundred years we will ultimately need the public sector to get on board, it seems worth noting that this transition phase - or first stages of a sustainable “revolution” - might ultimately be financed by more private capital, and that could be a good thing (benefits include less bureaucracy, quicker spending, greater freedom to direct funds, etc).

4. There is enough for everyone. Really. Even inside the most progressive circles, a question I still hear all the time is: “But is it possible? Is there really enough for everyone? Are imbalances of economic power simply inevitable?” Luckily, we know the answer: Yes, there is enough for everyone. No, inequality is not inevitable. Yes, we live on a planet with finite resources. Yes, the balance of these resources currently is extremely out of whack. No, that is not the way it has always been, must be, or needs to be - and Yes, we can do something about it. 6

5. Extraction ➡ Regeneration // Account for Externalized Costs // Global ➡ Local These are a few other related, baseline progressive economic principles that are important to keep central to further discussions around system redesign. Our current economy has reached maturation of its existing potential, and is now at a tipping point of a completely unsustainable methodology to continue operating from. The extractive frame - by which capital continues to accumulate more capital, at an increasing/exponential There are a number of great resources to support and explain this perspective in detail; For newcomers to this conversation, two great starting places to explore are and 6

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rate - must be shifted to one in which costs are not externalized, businesses & individuals & giant institutions realize the effect and relationship with the environment, local neighborhoods, health of employees, impact on society at large, etc. These “costs of doing business” must somehow be accounted for; the practice of externalizing them and relying on government, philanthropy, non-profits (not to mention the planet) to simply absorb the unsustainable practices of corporations is no longer possible. Regeneration is an inevitable worldview shift that we must hold as central to the new world that is possible, in everything from mom & pop shops in neighborhood to global investment funds. We also have to address the financialization, the tumors inside the markets. This is the ultimate sin, the grand shaming of the financial industry in the accumulation of wealth built upon wealth - but in a false, “house of cards” reality where the math doesn’t add up and resulting in inevitability of market crashes, and necessity for some kind of public bailout. This is obviously unsustainable, a bane on the rest of society, and a total wild card for how the next administration and future public sector will be asked to deal with the bastardization of the financial industry in inevitable continued chaos to come. Yes, individual bankers and Wall Street tycoons may be “smart” because they have hacked the existing mechanisms and “won” in the current capitalist paradigm — but no one exists in a bubble, and as we are now seeing the results on an extreme scale, with many others (approximately 99%) severely paying the price so that a very select few may enjoy extreme wealth. The original theory here is that this kind of wealth accumulation would be checked via the public sector, but especially in recent decades our government has completely failed to provide meaningful regulation, taxation, etc (and obviously with our new government being filled by these same tycoons, it seems extremely unlikely to have any meaningful reform on this front in the near future). Ultimately, we do need to be thinking about functional transitions to this system on a global scale, so perhaps now is the time to build stronger alliances amongst the international community to do just that. The extractive economy as it has been designed & implemented has created the disease above, that disgusting-pervasive-harmful ideology that “maybe there isn’t enough for everyone”. However we now do not have a choice, and this is the call for transition into a next system we are working for.

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SUMMARY: Money & the next system We need to prefiguratively build new market systems, create alternatives to slowly grow and build alliances and scale along the way - within industries, across sectors, based in local economies, across global markets - to built viable alternatives for all who wish to come on board in beginning to practice the realities of the new system. We must make it easy & seductive to participate. We have to create new ways so both Joe Schmo and Angelina Jolie have their place in new market paradigms, and make it easy and fun to say YES and step into. We need to recognize unlikely allies, not carry forth old biases but truly hold ourselves and peers and organizations of all types (corporates to non-profits) accountable for roles they’ve played in perpetuating inequality and invite them to step forth fully into new alternatives. We have to recognize that things like clean energy sector will need massive investment that won’t see financial return for very long time to come, and progressive private financing must be welcomed as core, important parts of the movement. We have to believe that a more just, equitable world is possible - and call out injustice and abuses of power/wealth/capital where they’ve been misappropriated and bastardized by old form capitalism. We are going into the belly of the beast. The work is not small. Money, Power, Institutional Funds, Capital Markets…it will take time, but it is our only choice.

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2 Art …and Cultural Transitions It is vitally important to begin Next System initiatives with a strong economic framework: practical methodologies that are building blocks for local communities to scale wealthbuilding strategies, create viable pathways for individual citizens to increase their participation in local economies and cross-sector divest/invest campaigns, and slowly build towards new institutions and markets that create more sustainable economic systems over time. And we’ve already touched on related and embedded problems in our political system: the corruption of money in politics, the dangers and forecasts of our most recent/urgent political crisis, the core components of redesigning the current political system into a functioning equitable democracy. However, there is a secret sauce: a hidden, embedded element that is harder to place a finger on but ultimately a core driver in any system: Culture. 7 We see this word more and more these days, its slow infiltration into common discourse as it gradually becomes more commonplace and acceptable terminology to use in board rooms, in strategic planning meetings, in economic seminars, at political lectures and rallies, etc. I would argue that this element has been vastly understudied and underrepresented in the discourse around a Next System, and plan to spend a good chunk of this essay focused here. Let’s start with a few examples and common truths to lay the groundwork: our current system crisis can also be further broken down as a series of culture crises. Our economic system is defined by consumer culture (for individuals), and the mantra ‘grow or die’ (for organizations and companies, of any profit orientation) — combined these create a cyclical growth-based frenzy as production desperately works to keep up with an insatiable consumerism and vise versa until it cycles back around on itself and the dog eats its own tail in an ever-spiraling pattern of unquestioned growth. There’s only one problem with the culture of this economic worldview: we live on a finite planet. Welcome to the reality of our current historical moment, when narrow-minded worldviews start to implode, and former economic “laws” of supply/demand confront serious new challenges of global consciousness and finite resources. So we all know that’s dying. Or rather, it’s impossible to continue, and we literally have no choice but to come up with something new, or die. The good news is there’s lots of economic alternatives already being built, as discussed in first section. What remains is to change our minds, and update our collective psychology/worldview. Across disciplines, cultures, and sectors, it now seems commonly acknowledged that our ideas create our reality. Our core beliefs create our thought patterns create our subconscious decisions create our actions create the manifestation of our life, from the shape of our day to day realities to the grand


As in Donella Meadows systems-thinking theory: culture is the most effective level to intervene.

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bigger arcs of our lives. Culture is the messy sum of a group’s mentality, our collective psychological state, our subconscious sense of what is real, what is true, and what possibilities can come to be. In exploring the relevance to our purposes here, I propose that culture it’s the largest untapped opportunity and leverage point in working towards larger system redesign and implementation. American culture of course is a tricky, complex beast, not the least of which is because of it’s size and broad diversity across many spheres8. It’s an infinite game, but no reason to not consider in any serious discussion of human behavior and systemic analysis. For example, let’s say that in some kind of progressive coordinated strategy we decide that evolving the electoral college into a more democratically equitable voting system is a high priority, and decide to truly put weight behind a national campaign to that end. I agree that this is an important and necessary area for reform, AND: 1. We don’t just have a problem with the practicalities/logistics of our voting system and counting measurements (although there are certainly dozens of issues there as well); we also have a problem with the culture of voting (in that half of Americans flat out don’t participate). We have a problem with a culture of scandal - wherein we expect our politicians to be corrupt, we barely blink when money or sex scandals hit the press any more, we don’t expect the legal system to hold them truly accountable, and we don’t expect the next guy to be any better than the last. The most recent political season took this to the next extreme, defined by a culture of mistrust (See: email scandal, call for tax documents, etc), a culture of juvenile name calling, a culture of ignorance, machismo, and normalizing misogyny, racism, and hate. This is a problem. As much as we need to design an equitable voting system, focus on getting out the vote and training viable moral leaders to represent a confidant electorate - we need to address the culture of the voting populous, and rebuild faith in our political institutions, and change the narrative of what's expected and what’s possible. (And make no mistake - we just elected a reality TV star as president of the United States, so if there was ever a time to seriously consider the influence of culture on politics and vice versa, now seems like the moment.) Culture is the unifier that brings all these problems / opportunities for solutions together. It’s intangible, it’s messy, it won’t be solved overnight - but it HAS to be addressed if we’re going to seriously rebuild the fabric of American institutions, livelihoods, and quality of life for the decades/generations to come.

The U.S. is seeing the results centuries later of the grand “melting pot” experiment - and so at this stage, aiming to understand our cultural soup is no easy task. For example, our recent election results have pointed to vast differences in perspectives between rural/urban, west coast/east coast, coastal/inland, south/north (civil war/yankees) communities - and those are just geographic breakdowns, not to mention further ways to slice it by sports team affiliations, types of sport preferences, sport watcher or not, those who watch TV vs alternatives types of media, not to mention ethnic groups, religion, preferences for coffee or tea, etc etc. Another interesting random sampling can be found in this cool data breakdown: 8

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Let’s keep building out a short list of other things we know about our current culture, to be considered for further analysis/action development. The purpose of simply naming here is useful because by nature it points out: it doesn’t have to be this way. Culture was not handed down from a deity on high. Culture is created by societies, or rather systems of humans, organically over time. Which is to say: we made it, we can change it.. A few things that seem to be true in the U.S. today (and keeping in mind that the U.S. is largest producer/exporter of culture in the world): •

We have a culture of violence, perpetuated by film/entertainment industry where such violence in normalized. There are lots of studies on how this translates to domestic violence at home, bullying in schools, and growing awareness/common sense that this is probably contributing to rise in gun violence and mass shootings nationwide. Fueling of individualism is a core hallmark of our existing “consumer culture” paradigm. We have to work towards a frameshift of “we are all in it together” mentality, and give people viable paths to get there. We don’t know how the culture will evolve under a Trump presidency. It very well may become the ground on which things get real ugly: culture of misogyny, culture of racism, culture of hate - may be perpetuated, become acceptable, or worse - grow and flourish. We are in an ideological war with Donald and his posse, and that is the battleground on which we must fight. There is not a lot of information to go on, but we can study what we know of his worldview & build from there.

As the great Arlene Goldbard frequently asks: “Who are we as a people? What do we stand for? And how do we want to be remembered?” These are the questions as the character of America is now truly on trial in a way that we have never before seen, and we have some serious decisions to make in the years ahead.

Ok, so culture is a thing.9 what do we do about it? This is the secret ingredient inside the secret sauce: Art & Artists. Art is a driver of culture, artists are an untapped labor resource in intentionally harnessing the culture we want. See Appendix 1 for a deeper breakdown of funding problems and opportunities within the arts sector, but for our purposes here let’s focus in on the untapped potential of labor resource within the arts sector to align with and support other community wealth

For more from top thinkers on this, check out U.S. Department of Arts & Culture’s National Cabinet and YBCA100 annual list of top leaders in the field. The U.S. Department of Arts & Culture is a non-governmental initiative (full disclosure: I used to work with them) — a great example of a pre-figurative, people-powered response to the embarrassment that the U.S. is rare amongst developed nations for not having a federally sanctioned entity to protect art and culture for the common good (NEA is a funding agency, but serves a different function than say, U.S. Department of Transportation in the transit sector). To explore more on international comparisons for state-sanctioned arts agencies, here’s a good starting point: 9

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building tactics; channel contribution of creative talents & energies towards creating, implementing, and scaling broad range of Next System solutions. Artists are often thought of as visionaries, the leading edge of society holding it accountable and pushing it forward into bold new directions, creatively reflecting back the times we live in, often uncomfortable truths about our current world, and - in best case scenarios - outlining the shapes of utopia, articulating a grandness of hopeful alternatives, or usually at the very least hold space for imagination and possibilities. Of course not all artists are able to live fully into this “In the dark times position all the time. But for a number of reasons, Will there also be singing? the arts sector has, over all, long been underfunded, Yes, there will be singing under-professionalized, and represents a massive About the dark times.” untapped opportunity to directly engage cultural -Bertolt Brecht, German, 1930s sector in political and economic reform.10 For example, thoughtful dialogue is emerging around a WPA-style publicly funded jobs program (first point of recently released 10-point policy proposal for cultural democracy - although after November 9 it seems we’re at least several years away towards progressive national leadership that would have chance of beginning to implement such ideas11). However, there is still opportunity to begin implementation on local levels12 , as well as amongst individuals and throughout sectors that need no government much less federal/national approval to leverage creative talents across industries. Beyond traditional advertising and entertainment that have long siphoned off creative energies, there are ways many amongst socially conscious fields can create more meaningful opportunities to engage the creative sector, & I would recommend this as we slowly, start to pre-figuratively build some alternatives here. Blowing this up in even broader terms, to all designers of the Next System - those working for economic justice, climate action, grassroots power, system alternatives & new political modalities - let us say: let artists be your PR strategy, your comms campaign, your messengers and translators for the public’s minds and hearts as we address the fundamental psychology of what got Trump elected, the increasing fear and cultural divides at the root of violence and hatred, the swings for decades that have taught us about left & right, right & wrong. 10

Deeper reasons on why/how this came to be also in Appendix 1.

…at least in way progressives have been imagining. Even though we may see ‘infrastructure’ and national/public job opportunities, we need to be very careful about the way the framing, short-term vs long-term benefits and repercussions of such programs, as I’m afraid they may be thoughtlessly designed. Working towards long-term creation of wealth and equitable ownership will be important measurement tools beside short-term economic impact and opportunities. 11

Like local economies, I would argue this is way to strategically build support for “radical” concepts such as this over time. If you can prove the model in say 5, 25,100+ local municipalities over a few years, easier to build new national/ global narratives on viability of these solutions and chance to roll out more progressive national/international initiatives and implement on larger scale. This is how you build power over time. 12

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Of course not all practitioners are pure, not all art is good, not all artists are progressive or left-leaning in their politics or will want to participate. But we're talking about building new industries and movements here; I believe you could align the forces in a democratic way to structure some serious alternatives to the existing career opportunities within the arts - and potentially at scale use this as a new kind of driver for cultural health, collective hope, and build mass support for sustainable new system solutions.

Translation, Cultural Narratives, and Public Messaging: or “How Art Helps Scale” Ok, so let's say we build some momentum around this, including some progressive funders (public or private) who are willing to test the theory, and put a bunch of artists to work in service of the public good. What do we do next? Let’s take a closer look at just two of the existing industries that have sucked up the energies of the creative sector, and see what possibilities are latent within:

1. Advertising: Create Fund for Public Service Announcements We've already discussed the profound corruption/bastardization of the advertising industry, but let's take a quick look at history of how that came to be. There's a number of great resources on this 13, but to sum up briefly for our purposes here: after World War II, jobs created by war were no longer available, there was the necessity to create new sectors and industries to keep up with jobs & lifestyles Americans had become accustomed to during the war, and prevent country from falling back into terrible economic depression of the decade before the war. A great number of these new jobs resulted in creation of new products, mass consumer goods that - by necessity - needed to be sold to be profitable. Thus, the creation of an entirely new industry: advertising/communications. This, coupled with rise in technology & new forms of mass public messaging evolving from radio to television set in every home meant massive new potential for mass public messaging. The mandate was simple: intersperse short messages that briefly interrupted the entertainment/arts-based “content” that was the reason people tuned in; that content essentially became financially sustainable by integrating those very same “brief message from our sponsors.” This new marriage of art + advertising, corporate sponsorship through medium of television, is how consumer culture infiltrated the minds and psyches of every American (and quickly rippled out to how the rest of the world interacted with media and those consumer-based messaging). One can imagine a good-hearted intention behind such efforts, through free market principles espoused by parties of all sorts: spread the awareness of available products, so 13

Good starting place:

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individual consumers can make a choice (in a best case scenario, an informed choice based on needs, desires, personal budgets, product competitors - these days we could also say values, spreading awareness of triple bottom line companies, etc). Of course that’s not exactly what it looks like in reality. In practice, there is no independent agency informing customers of options between competitors, holding companies accountable to truth in their messaging - at least not one that seems to function at the scale that seems necessary.14 But what if there was? It would certainly be challenging to structure, and potentially receive enormous pushback, but I think it could be done. The creation of some kind of independent, non-profit advertising fund in service of the public good would be a significant, tangible step in working towards culture shift. They essentially become “Public Service Announcements”, and the fund could be used to purchase traditional advertising space available on the free market: print ads on buses, subways, billboards // radio spots // ultimately television ads/movies, internet ads, etc. Probably most likely source of funding for this in next few years would be consortium of foundations, private donors, HNWIs, etc. Ideally, a custom partnership arrangement could ultimately be designed with sellers of this advertising space (transit authorities, large media networks, digital media platforms, etc.) that would still be at a profited rate, but possibly some discount for buying in bulk, or as a non-profit/for-good entity, etc. 15

Seems like it is built into the framework of the FTC’s purpose, but based on vague regulations outlined on page, one might assume there’s gigantic lobbying efforts going into keeping these guidelines relatively minimal — and agency in its current form doesn’t seem poised to take on heart of disease of consumer/capitalist America, or anything that could be seen as disrupting “free market practices” that could “harm growth” & GDP. Consumer Reports attempts to serve a similar function, but also doesn’t seem to be operating at the scale/integration necessary to tackle the massive forces at play within the mainstream advertising industry. 14

Ultimately, this fund could grow in many directions and take on further investment opportunities - for example, purchasing shares in existing major media companies (Time Warner, FOX, etc.). Building off the concept of shareholder activism, could one amass enough power/votes through investment to alter the very nature of these industries? Since the checks and balances of our current system are apparently failing, it seems we need to be considering solutions on all fronts: ownership/altering direction of existing corporate power from within, federal regulation, market alternatives and let the people decide, etc. 15

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Content could include things like economics 10116, education and statistics on wealth inequality, proactive tips on how to sustain local economies, healthy eating tips, ways to support small businesses and baseline implications, etc. Could start with short list of cultural problems in previous section, and integrate some general framework from “bottom line public messaging” in box. If one wanted to take this idea further, the next steps would be: 1. Convene a collective of top thinkers on this for multi-day retreat to outline problems & opportunities here, 2. Release mass open call to artists for submissions on variety of themes, along different formats agreed upon as best structures for first round of funding (print work, radio/TV spots, etc.) 3. Put together curation committee to decide on top picks, pay winning artists for their work 4. Publish, iterate // rinse, repeat.17 This is how you address culture in the modern age. If you don’t like consumer culture, and we agree that cultural shift is essential to all progressive movements, then this is simply how you coordinate messaging to reach the people for the good of all. The heart of messaging has to be broad, is not about getting any particular person in office or any

BOTTOM LINE PUBLIC MESSAGING could include points like: 1. Climate is changing (statistics, drawing narrative arcs for climate justice movement, practical survival tips, etc) 2. There is enough for everyone (wealth inequality, local economic alternatives, etc.) 3. Black Lives Mater (“How would we act if we believed in the future of young black men?”) 4. Economic Boycotts (spread awareness of the boycotts, opportunities to leverage collective economic power)

Also baked into this idea is concept: Most people don’t care about economic policy, and shouldn’t have to. As we continue to unpack results of Election 2016, I’d be curious to see more analysis on those who watched the debate compared to voter turnout/choices. Donald does not seem to even have an economic plan, based on top thinkers who are closely watching - but everyday American/voter are too busy with their own lives to weed their way through the details, and that should be ok. Or rather, if we had a functioning democracy, with real choices of people w differing views offering a couple of options to the mass populous for various strategies towards achieving equality, liberty, and pursuit of happiness to all this would be fine — however, what we DO have is a corrupt media industry, and the right wing conservative base - for better or worse - decided NOW was the time to push back against this. 16

But let’s be clear, this is also a result of poverty and general economic suffering across the U.S. When parents come home from long day at work, have to cook dinner & feed kids & monitor homework before falling asleep and getting up to repeat it again tomorrow — it’s pretty hard to make one’s way through the mass of media sources and sort out the truth. It seems that lots of Trump’s voters were “tired” of politics as usual, making a last minute or hidden vote for “change”, shocking pollsters and pundits, with no idea the furthered economic suffering his policies, or lack there of, are likely to bring - not to mention the nightmare of potential true fascism within the U.S. We do have to address this ignorance within the American public, but taking into account the realities of people’s experience and bandwidth to care about these issues. I think this is why you start with a media campaign to address economic suffering, give people things they can practically DO to take back economic power in their own lives, that will be good for everyone regardless - and slowly, strategically work on parallel fronts to build political power necessary to sustain our democracy for the long haul. This collective structure embedded throughout is absolutely core, so it doesn’t become too centralized/propogandaesque. What would make it unique would be creating it by, for, and in service to the people - the 99% - and to ensure/ protect this mission it would have be authentically structured in a parallel fashion, while accounting for curation/skills necessary to execute well. 17

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single area of change —- it’s about creating a mechanism for a messaging center in service of the public good, a cross-movement mouthpiece/platform for aligned initiatives in service of democracy, public health, economic justice, environmental sustainability, etc. Probably we would want to further customize messaging by locale, ultimately creating city/state/regional targeted initiatives as well as integrating national, unified calls to action. Could also use the 2016 electoral map county breakdown, along with other city/public data to understand demographics, pain points, belief systems, and opportunities to coalesce various groups in a cohesive, collective movement building strategy. (At this stage, special opportunity could also be created for small local businesses to participate who meet certain requirements — if this is the trend anyway, mass populous realizing that globalization of corporations is not serving them, NOW is critical opportunity to build support for small businesses - which many top economists say is absolutely critical to evolution/transition to a sustainable economy.18 ) This is also one way to address the centralization of art/media centers that are primarily anchored on the coasts (a major criticism/analysis of how we arrived at results of 2016 elections), accompanied by pockets of activity scattered across cities — what we really need is a mass coordinated cultural revolution across the U.S.19 So this is one practical idea on how to structure a massive jobs program, putting untapped labor resources in the arts to work for the common good and working towards this sort of large-scale, populous narrative shift. Now, let’s take a second major industry that could be put to better use:

2. Entertainment: Leverage Celebrities’ Social Capital This is massive, but I’d say a good starting place would be to harness existing social capital of celebrity culture. Any thoughtful citizen understands that politics, entertainment/media, and pop culture are not separate entities in the modern age (here's just quick summary of celebs voicing opinions on 2016 elections; we’re far beyond even pretense of hiding such overlaps).


Another great summary of how/why local economies are imperative: Michael Schuman at SOCAP16

Let’s be clear, these aren’t radical or even new ideas. Both sides have been funneling money into media outlets for decades, and particularly conservative movement is seeing wins of years of strategy paying off in this very moment. Advertising is only growing; it’s a separate problem to deal with the regulation of this massive industry. You see it more and more, companies pushing the boundaries of what’s “for sale” — in New York City subways, they recently started selling space on the turnstiles going in & out of stations, and occasionally on public transit you’ll see advertisements wrapping entire subway cars or buses. Particularly this intersection of transit + advertising needs to be seriously addressed and create some sort of metrics of accountability within the industry given it’s undeniable influence on culture…but that may have to be part of a longer-term policy game more relevant in the years following the Trump administration. But as political/partisan interests continue to evolve and transform for decades to come - I believe regardless it's important to recognize the potential for reimagining this industry, keeping in mind it's original function & innate possibilities. Yes, it surely means going up against immense existing power dynamics, but I believe the purpose here is to talk about transitions, not anarchy. The likelihood is that these industries will surely/inevitably continue in SOME form, and it’s important for next system thinkers to imagine into their potential use & consider thoughtfully how to reckon with these existing forces. 19

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Celebrities thus become the figureheads, our contemporary queens and kings who influence the masses with their opinions, statements - not to mention messaging within their art/ creative products (songs, movies, etc.). Even though I personally believe Mark Whalberg is basically right - that in general, Hollywood tends to be either too uninformed or out of touch with realities of most people to weigh in meaningfully into these debates - like it or not they do, by very nature of their celebrity-ness they have the attention of mass audiences (plus the machine is already in motion, getting celebrities to STOP making public statements seems unlikely in our modern world). More useful than trying to stop this momentum would be to harness it in a positive direction. Again, this is just one component of the larger entertainment industrial complex, but seems like a low-hanging fruit to start transforming core of that industry towards more meaningful use. (And again, may we remember - we just elected a reality TV star as president of the United States. Everything is on the table, and now is the time to act.)20

Not to beat this over the head, but personal anecdote from last year, plus some quick Googling + math highlights the opportunity here: in September 2016, I attended a live Beyoncé concert with a friend, part of her Formation tour. Beyoncé’s recent album Lemonade is embedded with pretty blatant “Black Lives Matter”-esque messaging; I think it’s a great example of massive pop star using her power/fame to raise awareness in her fan base of historical/structural elements of racism, and drawing explicit connections to police violence and continued daily suffering in black communities. My friend and I massively enjoyed her live performance of hits from the past decades, including several off that album — but we were both a bit surprised that there was zero call to “get out and vote” - much any kind of “#ImWithHer call to action 2 months before a critical national election. 20

Perhaps my friend and I are more politically engaged than the average American and than Beyoncé assumed her fan base was/is, but this is where the Googling+math gets really interesting: HRC lost the popular vote in Pennsylvania by 44,292 people (ultimately resulting in the loss of a critical 20 electoral votes, that would have put her just 18 electoral votes shy of the presidency). The capacity of Lincoln Field stadium is 69,176 (my friend and I were deep in the nosebleed section, for what definitely seemed to be a nearly sold out crowd). Beyoncé had already played at that same stadium a few months before on June 5, as well as the Heinz Field stadium in Pittsburgh (capacity: 65,050), and HersheyPark Stadium (capacity: 30,000) earlier that year as part of the international Formation World Tour. This brings Beyonce’s total live audience in Pennsylvania to well over 200,000 people in the 6 months leading up to the 2016 presidential election. Now surely a good chunk of those attending her concerts last year did vote, and presumably a majority for Hillary. And I’m definitely not saying Beyoncé is to blame for Donald Trump’s election upset — but in a country with about half of the eligible voting population not even showing up to the polls (and the 2016 election marking lowest voter turnout in a decade), we can’t really afford to make assumptions of where folks are or are not listening, or who a relevant audience for democratized messaging. This is where educating our celebrities becomes a critical strategy point; even within more charged political campaigns it would be possible to present factual, unbiased information and then let individuals choose if they want to make a public statement to their fan base (because let’s be extremely clear: public opinion (being just that - opinion) to the side, Hillary’s economic policies would have flat out benefited black and white low/middle-income communities in a significant way, not to mention it would have been a huge step forward for women on a number of fronts. Whether we like it or not, everything is political now - or rather none of us can escape the implications of politics, and for a self-proclaimed feminist, one can hope that if nothing else Donald’s shocking election may just serve as the much needed reminder that none of us can afford to be unengaged - or rather if we do, we will all pay a severe price. Or, in other words: what if a strategic button, sticker, or email could make a difference? Elizabeth Maxwell // Next System Project Essay Competition // December 2016

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So, in theory, here’s how one would go about it: 1. Build network of celebrities who are already publicly identifying with progressive values (would take early adopters and trust/ strategic alliance from at least a few who have existing relationships there). 2. Create an independent movement-of-movements—based website (*again, this is not about any single brand, entity, or organization, but is meant to be a force for the commons and public good). Design simple beautiful visually-based messaging [graphics + buttons], explaining teaser problem/solution. Need catchy slogan and direct to website, with facts/realities of inequality & clear actionable next steps towards participating in local economies and building personal/ family wealth (simple, 1-page, range of engagement from 5 minutes to multi-hours, link to additional resources to learn more & social invites to share). 21 3. Distribution strategy: create variety of scenarios for celebrities to “opt-in” to spreading the word, based on medium and most effective/appropriate methods of distribution to their fan base. Examples include: volunteers hand out free buttons to audiences at end of each concert; marketing team sends follow-up email within 24 hours of concert inviting direct click throughs. 4. Track, iterate, grow // rinse, repeat. This campaign especially has to be cool. It has to be fun, sexy, and easy, to be appealing and work via this aspect of the market. Again, it’s not about building email list, or any particular organization — but developing and sharing a new ideology. The goal is to use assets within entertainment industry (social capital, cultural influence, financial resources, intellectual capital, etc.) to shift culture. How challenging would it be to start building alliances amongst those who “get it” - and would be willing to contribute some part of their private social capital for the collective good? What are the actionable steps (& appropriate banding) for major pop stars, pundits, and media darlings to distribute sustainable local economy and environmental messaging to their personal fan base…after every concert? …with every album download? …on regular basis across social media platforms?

3. Further Opportunities Ok, so those are two industries with untapped potential to support/accelerate a systems shift, from a cultural narrative root lens. Let’s outline of a few other possible solutions, just to get a sense of breadth of opportunity here:

• Create alliances amongst media outlets and distribution/communication channels

who commit to equitable, solutions-oriented messaging for the public good. • A coalition of publishing platforms could be a game changer for progressive sector, especially if one could institutionalize regular “System/Solutions” columns across major media platforms, syndicated across additional outlets.

This also creates jobs: to design, maintain, and sustain evolution of this initiative. Similarly to content for Public Service Announcements campaign, could sync up with existing #MoveYourMoney, #BuyLocal initiatives - but the point would be to design a coordinated, strategic set of shared messaging to work across platforms. Next System partners could help design/curate/build series of aligned partnerships here to implement in thoughtful way. 21

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• What might serve as an equivalent “fair-trade/organic” certification in the media industry,

and could such a labeling mechanism be useful? In the era of fake news, a public-serving entity that vouches for a certain amount of fact checking and integrity could be a useful tool. • Same could be done across Hollywood: develop an alliance/certification program for films and television that promotes the public good, helps consumers find their way into new stories (create simple, values-based caveats, i.e. “content that promotes sexism, racism, or hate will not be considered” — by hiring the right people to vet/consider submitted content, unfortunately probably a shockingly low # of existing content would qualify - i.e. Bechdel test). • Design opportunities for national, collective art actions • Coordinate multi-site cultural engagement opportunities — everything from recurring individual opportunities (i.e. People’s State of the Union annual civic ritual) to institution/ city-based initiatives (i.e. the Market Street Prototype Festival in SF to additional locations). Particularly these direct civic engagement projects are an important piece to meaningfully engage artists in conversations around urban economic development. • Coordinated Live Performance Series: Harness collective power of touring circuits and regional theater infrastructure — i.e. Hamilton, revolutionary story featuring black founding fathers and alternate history, has thus far not managed to mirror it’s radical content in distribution or production (even the artists themselves . At $700/ticket available exclusively on Broadway, it represents a significant untapped force to activate a popular base. Even without releasing the rights to every high school and college across the country, a coordinated professional regional release (beyond or instead of simply slowly growing via capitalistic-centric national tours) could massively scale the messaging at a critical time when we’re reflecting on our nation’s history. Given the fight the actors had to engage just to win a share of the profits, it seems it will be necessary to remind Hamilton of the larger economic implications and opportunities of it’s production and distribution opportunities, as well as lay the groundwork for similar and future shows to follow suit. (See: creating jobs for artists. I would propose that the talent and training is there; the infrastructure and industry just needs to catch up.) • Site-specific work, brought to scale: I’m personally a big believer in importance of metaphor in choosing location for one’s artistic sharing, and in particular think there is a massive untapped potential for live performance series utilizing symbolic/historic monuments as locations for live concerts, theatrical productions, and experiences (could also work with broadcast partners to engage digital/remote audiences simultaneously). • For example, imagine a livestream broadcast from Mount Rushmore with a onenight only concert to reclaim/reinvent true spirit of American democracy (*would have to include carefully curated blend of performers, everything from indigenous Tribe Called Red to Tribe Called Quest to Beyoncé herself). • Or, from a people-powered perspective, imagine coordinated productions of Hamilton in every town square / public space across the U.S. on July 4 (could Elizabeth Maxwell // Next System Project Essay Competition // December 2016

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you create a one-day only performance license, requiring POC performers and/or gender-crossed casting, for X weeks of rehearsals and single day of flash-mob style performance action synchronized across the country?) • National civic and cultural rituals —> enhanced annual holiday calendar. We need a new series of annual civic rituals for the mass to integrate mass participation in new ways of being, collective mourning, celebration, etc. • People’s State of the Union (PSOTU) is one example of a political/civic ritual inviting folks across the U.S. to host a “story circle” in their community and tell their own stories about the state of our union (stories can also be submitted online and are later used as inspiration by a curated group of poets to create a “Poetic Address to the Nation” in response). PSOTU happens nationally each January. What other civic cultural rituals might we create throughout the year? • For example - what would it take to develop practices of Mardi Gras / Carnival across the nation? How might we integrated with religious holidays of various faith traditions, including spring equinox, winter solstice, etc that a lot of these are based upon? Imagine Macy’s Day parade-style, scaled in 100-500 cities across the U.S., sponsored in part by local businesses, containing similar elements of public messaging, celebrating core American values of freedom, equality, and justice for all? • What if half of the activist energy directed at marches was instead harnessed into parades and public celebrations? Would more participate, because we’re giving something positive to participate in? Direct action protest certainly has it’s place, but reimagining these forms into new practices of being together (and things that are FUN) is a piece sorely missing from our society writ large today. Use the electoral map to deploy further cultural workers and target messaging. The • USDAC already has training & support programs in place for Cultural Agents and Regional Envoys, and there are similar locally focused programs in St. Louis and could be mirrored further across the country. These agile organizing models (similarly employed by many other movement organizations, from Bernie’s campaign to are digitally-based, lean mechanisms to “train the trainers” and are laying the groundwork and showing the potential for national/global coordinated movement building. Within the arts/cultural sector, could partner these trainees / agile agents more deeply with existing cultural institutions (YBCA, Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, Public Theatre, Creative Time, ArtPlace America) as home bases for these types of direct artist engagement with communities. Could also build coordination amongst these groups to position artists as thought leaders in relevant dialogues across fields and sectors.22 • Integrate social-justice oriented artists & celebrities into marches and direct action across the country in a sustained campaign. Participatory choirs, live performances, and major celebrity performances can attract greater attention and create meaning in direct action spaces. Some of this could be part of job-creation program (in the sense of paying

Across this sphere, could also build deeper partnerships with NEA, Grantmakers in the Arts, Coalition of State Arts Agencies, etc. to scale - but do the work they can’t because of institutional baggage in existing paradigm. 22

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rising and emerging artists to develop and share their work, not furthering 1% wealth in existing celebrities). Some should also always be free, volunteer, participatory based actions to celebrate our creativity as a people and our collective power through the arts — because it’s just fun. • Explore further historical, democratic traditions that could use a reframe. What if saying the Pledge of Allegiance was cool/meaningful again? What if everyone *lit up* when it was time to sing the Star-Spangled Banner? How might we create new anthems for the 99%? How can community mural projects move from the exception to the norm? How else might we re-imagine who we are as a people, what we want to stand for, and how we want to be together?

Summary: If all the world is a stage, isn’t it time to recast the parts? There is inherent privilege and responsibility that comes with the power of the stage, and it seems high time we as a society take a hard look at what and who has been monopolizing our attention. Cultural shift needs to be considered core strategy as part of larger system change. Even if we democratize wealth, decentralize power and scale up ownership from the base — we could still refuse to step into our power and continue work again our own solutions. Worst case scenario, we may just recreate similar problems under different names, continue to elect fascists, etc. if we don’t also address the mental paradigm of consumerism. We can use the tools of the existing free market to take back power on both economic and cultural fronts. There exists a large, latent base of cultural workers, artistic intellectuals, and creative activists can help populous understand our place/moment in much larger story, and shape a new narrative. No doubt this is challenging; we're struggling as humanity right now to get beyond the amygdala, the fear-based part of our brain that's easiest to activate and hard to think past when one is experiencing danger/fear. But we have no time to be thinking small; the climate is begging us to think bigger, and to collectively work our way into our frontal cortex and larger consciousness. Our current culture is not inevitable; Our future culture is a choice. “If we want to change the world, we have to change the story.” We’re going to need way more art to survive and sustain ourselves through the Trump presidency. It’s time to get to work.

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3 God…and Beyond Building off our premise of the dire need for cultural/narrative shift, there is a final gaping hole in our current modern system, that needs to be thoughtfully considered/integrated into transition plans: religion. Without backing up too far, or revisiting the entire history of spirituality/religion in modern civilization (for which there are many interesting texts23), we need to be considering implications for shifts on this front in what seems to be an increasingly “secular age.” 24 For our purposes here, let’s just briefly look at where this intersects with our systems-shifting philosophy/theory of change thus far. If economics is the language, and culture is the root at which we can engage — then we must recognize the invisible thread tying it all together needs to have a reborn moral center. Whether this call is explicit or embedded under the surface depends on the messenger - but this lineage runs deep across history, straight into modern times and the need for this is only getting greater, even if trickier to speak into. Today, we have mass human rights atrocities - most recent examples in Aleppo, with continued questionable activity from Russia, Iran, etc. The U.S., which has long held moral high ground, many say is now falling to fascism itself. The shape of our contemporary global landscape is evolving by the minute, with shifting power dynamics and an increasing amount of ethical choices confronting individuals, organizations, and institutions coming front and center. In World War II, we were lucky enough to have FDR, Churchill, & other global leaders who stood up from this ethical core — we may not be so lucky this time to see such leadership from the seats of political power. To frame in another way: if we can’t rely on civic leaders, and religion is declining at large 25 - then who will hold the moral center of our society? There are many living heroes speaking out loudly to this point, striving to move the course. I believe Michelle and Barack have both done great work to recenter our spiritual base alongside progressive political policy, while leaders like Reverend Barber and colleagues have led the call more explicitly, along with a growing number of leaders from business, policy, and philanthropy. Living institutional spiritual leadership Dalai Lama and Pope Francis have both denounced capitalism for increasing human suffering, and so we start to have this important growing of rhetoric around the spiritual crisis of the modern economy.


For example, field of cultural mythology created by Joseph Campbell leads to many interesting starting points.


See: Charles Taylor’s seminal work on this point

Also within religion, like politics, we have this massive corruption of sex scandals amongst leaders /priests, and bastardization of religious purposes via calling for rise of violent fundamentalism across sects. See things like https:// - and larger important questions of branding/narrative again: http:// 25

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All major world religions have a long history of engaging in their own way with social justice, equality, and human dignity. 26 I would argue what we need now is an interfaith strategy amidst changing times - recognizing the dwindling interest amongst millennials in participating in old form religion27, we need new ways to evolve these institutions and imagine their role in engaging with secular civil society to function in today’s world.

Religious Institutions = Economic Engines & Culture Shifting Opportunities So, let’s break this down into a few categories of development, or ways to evolve old religious establishment and architecture/assets of the old paradigm into functioning modern institutions integrated into the next system.28

Land assets: urban & rural re-imagined We need to look at physical structure of former religious paradigm; new uses for existing architecture and land assets. Particularly, this manifests in two forms: urban (churches, synagogues, mosques) and rural (monasteries, nunneries, and the like). These two physical infrastructure components have overlapping but distinct purposes: to provide refuge, physical sanctuary, preserve ideas and knowledge, and be gathering centers for aligned communities to come together and worship higher power. One way to build power & integrate solutions here would be to create a network of cooperatively-owned physical former religious spaces, transformed into centers for economic and cultural freedom.29 They would in effect, become interfaith community centers and a new form of public space - entrusted to the community to preserve, protect and steward the assets (land and architectures, neighborhood and environment) in service of generations to come for evolving faith practices. 26 27

There’s clearly a danger as well as an opportunity here (not just within the U.S., but as a global trend) - as what is the “proper use” of these spaces innately comes wildly up for debate as never before. However, I believe these spaces are a vital opportunity to create physical infrastructure for the emotional processing, collective grief, cultural healing as we come to terms with the ways the climate is inevitably shifting all around us. Any thoughtful, wellintentioned creative use of the space for repurposing these spaces in service of the next system should be considered. 28

Financially, they should probably be structured as land trusts, or other best form to be a holding entity for the public good. 29

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1. Art Church Co-op: An Interfaith, Cooperative Cultural Center [Urban] In Manhattan, there’s a church on 20th Street that’s a rotating boutique, high-end marketplace, and housed in the Best Buy Theater in Times Square is one of the largest Sunday worship congregations in NYC.30 Which begs the question: If churches can be malls, and malls can be churches — then what is sacred in a consumer-based culture? Buying up the land assets of urban churches and putting them in some kind of sort of public trust is a practical financial way to preserve ownership and cultural heritage for the next system. These investment opportunities have long been recognized, most recently as made apparent by participation of faith-based organizations in impact investing movement - and with record numbers of churches on the market, a larger opportunity is emerging across the entire market segment. Furthermore, investing here is strategic because churches are engines of local economic development, core centers of communities and important piece of the strategy to consider from economic, cultural, and systems perspectives.31 With a number of current developers also exploring such investments - often repurposing with far less noble intent (creating condos, flat out tearing down, rarely considering function, historical/architectural integrity, or impact within neighborhood, etc.) - there is also a ticking clock on the time/opportunity to make an intervention here. A quick outline of strategy would be to structure a coordinated investment initiative to buy up a fixed number of religious properties as they become available on the market in targeted geographies and price brackets. A public trust and/or cooperative would need to be created to be entrusted with the ownership of these assets, and over time could develop coordinated value statements, programmatic initiatives, community-building practices, etc. The purpose would be to transition these spaces into cultural healing centers — grounded in an intentional & thoughtful form of interfaith32 homes for artistic practice and community sharing. The content/programming side of the equation is where these spaces get really interesting. Churches, after all, are already built to parallel performance spaces: existing architecture already includes built in stage, audience, backstage/dressing area. Conversion of these assets to new use would not be exceedingly difficult, but absolutely needs to be considered thoughtfully. Ultimately, I see them growing into a 24/7 venue, curated by a collective and creating a viable/functioning twenty four hour public space for the community. Evening hours To be considered further: rise of mega-churches, it’s influence on culture: 2012/08/20/god-as-a-drug-the-rise-of-american-megachurches/. Need to build parallel institutions to counter, give thoughtful alternatives. 30

Even without selling them, many are exploring ways to repurpose to reach new audience and compete with growing secular trends — although given the sketchiness of how the term “developer” is used, I would much prefer to strategically build this in a way to maintain ownership with the people — can’t farm power out to corporates, nonpresent 1%. 31

Let’s define a specific use of ‘interfaith' for our purposes here - all forms of practice ranging from all major world religions to agnostic to atheist to mythological to general/non-affilliated spiritual 32

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could be modeled after monastic vigil practice: engage existing monastic populations and welcome public for extended, silent contemplation periods33. Days of the week could be rotated through a collective of curators.34 In short, we can call this the “Art Church Co-op” model. I’m hoping to explore further with a single church in Philadelphia within the next few years, aiming to develop best practices to share with a broader network.35

2. Art Monasteries: Creative Sanctuaries and Contemplative Retreat Centers [Rural] While churches serve an important religious function inside urban centers, monasteries are more frequently found in rural settings serving a different but equally important purpose. Both often serve vital social functions (food to hungry, housing to the homeless, childcare and education for the youth, etc.) — in many societies throughout history, religious communities have stepped up to serve these functions when government failed to provide these sorts of basic social services.36 This is above and beyond community gathering, spiritual guidance, etc. There are some interesting unique aspect to the social functions of monasteries, however - as they are often inhabited full time by a dedicated group of ordained clergy to protect and preserve the religious practices of the group. Monasteries have a vibrant and diverse history and, historically, monasteries have served to protect some of the great hallmarks of western civilization - including agriculture, knowledge/intellectual traditions, the origins of sheet music and the written word. There’s lots of fascinating stuff about ways these were structured, role/function they served, practical ideas to generate revenue through monastic traditions such as breweries, book publishing, education, hosting retreats, etc. - but the bottom line is these centers must exist to serve a vital function for society now and in generations to come. Just like churches, the best solution here is to buy up old monasteries and transfer ownership to similar type of public trust. (Full disclosure: for three years, I lived with the Art Monastery Project, a group that's been piloting this concept in historic monasteries across Italy and


For sure, security & other logistics need to be sorted out.

For example: I've always wanted to host a Sunday morning dance party in a former religious space - electronic DJ music with live horns, gospel choir, and serious dance floor to get down - 3 hour participatory experience, embodying new form of worship and community gathering. Ideally, becomes weekly ritual. Playfully, we can call this one “Rapture.” Put out creative open call and I’m sure we’d get lots of proposals. 34

There are lots of aligned partners to build out on this front, for example Sacred Places non-profit. Unitarian Universalists are an example of an existing, established religious tradition that shares similar progressive values and could also be core partners. 35

Philanthropists and progressives have often served this role too, for example the history of University Settlement in early days of New York City: 36

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recently in some U.S. locations as well. Permanent locations and institution-building power would make a vast difference on ability of these projects to scale and sustain support for communities in these critical spiritual and cultural times.)

2. Human capital: Need for new clergy and secular engagement Like the arts sector, here within lies a large untapped chunk of human capital, ready and willing to go to work in service of a greater good. Reports like How We Gather point to a growing number of groups addressing this need for new types of contemporary secular/ spiritual community, while beyond traditional divinity schools programs like Alt*Div focus on cultivating emerging leaders for this new work. From an institutional perspective, one can imagine the possibility for new forms of clergy (as piloted by initiatives such as Artmonks), and the magnified potential power when coupled with activism from within existing progressive orders.37

Summary: Grand Healing, and a Movement Beyond Intellect The point here is that in addition to the proactive, tangible and intellectual work that is to be done in building new economic and political systems, there is also a cultural healing component, an area of our soul that collectively has been suffering, that we will need to heal, address, and care for as well. Now is the time to put these models to work in new direct, contemporary ways that are actively engaged with civil society, economic justice, and the greater healing that is needed to meaningfully transition us on every level (intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, culturally — individually & collectively) into a new paradigm. // Furthered/sustained by networks such as: 37

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4 Onwards We Go And so the final question seems to be: Who will stand for the public good, for the commons, for the right to pursue life liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all - if our government in it’s current form no longer will? Who will stand for accountability on actions based in these principles - and not fall sway to empty words and promises geared towards short-term election cycle and individual, ego-based success? Who will hold our institutions accountable, and if not thru existing mechanisms then who will be responsible to implement long-term strategic plans, rooted in democratic values and the good of all? The answer is: all of us. Or all who can. Or rather, all who will. If the courts are corrupt, if the government is failing, if no one sector alone can provide systemic, meaningful solutions — then we the people must step forth. We must decide who we truly work for, what we stand for, who we want to be and how we want to treat each other - every day, We must hold ourselves accountable to the planet, and to all people regardless of income, wealth in the bank, political philosophies, past voting records, etc. We must commit to genuine dialogue, even & especially with those with whom we disagree. No matter who cuts the paycheck38, we must decide to work for equality, justice & invite others to make similar pledges and build in accountability practices within your own communities. This is related to Buddhist principle of ‘noble work’ — and let us be very, very clear that there is immense nobility in garbage collectors: transporting waste within urban centers to prevent disease to keep people safe and streets clean, not to mention recycling programs that are vital in rounding out sustainable supply chains and regenerative economic/ social structures. Even if/as these jobs get swept away by technology, we must remember the innate dignity in all basic work, & the right to humans to not work. These are some of the basic principles of the universal basic income movement - which many see as an inevitability, and another example of where we’ll need a cultural plan to build mass acceptance, integration, and care for the transition of our collective psyche through the changing times. I strongly believe that, for the most part: people are just looking for something that makes sense. The good news is - we have the answers at our fingertips. The “problem” in recent years is not lack of knowledge, data, or viable solutions — at this point, it is primarily a matter Meaning, I believe there is a moral calling here for ALL — from truck drivers who can decide how to engage with fellow roadside travelers & their families, domestic violence, etc. — to financiers and policy makers who must decide who/how they will be accountable in this time of Great Transition. We are already seeing this in early days of Trump administration - where individuals within the Energy Department have already rejected transition team’s questionnaire targeting climate change personnel. This #WitchHunt is an awful scare tactic, echoing McCarthy Era & Salem Witch Trials - one in which we must work on cultural fronts, build mass support, true democracy and commit to transparency - and handle exceedingly carefully as we deal with corrupt/immoral state in coming years and wrestle with most effective transition methodologies into Next System. 38

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of misinformation, lack of coordination and strategy. I believe we are at a game changing moment on the earth, one in which the familiar paradigm is failing so drastically that more and more are awakening to the inevitability of drastic change.39 But it doesn’t have to be an apocalyptic disaster. It makes sense that we are scared, because the future may very well not look like the present - which would be the goal. There is comfort in these knowns, and as bad as things are thus far we have collectively stayed in this general zone of comfort.40 Now is the time to take the next step forward. History has changed many times, and its next evolution is up to us. Past events & trends are no indicators of future results - as we humans keep learning over and over again. As we consider economic and cultural transitions, it is time to really ask ourselves: What is the value of our values? We must come up with vibrant new methods of translation. We must give everyone a way in. We must create a new system that is achievable in nature, elegant in its design, seductive in its simplicity, ethical through and through, and so fun that it’s impossible to resist. Quite honestly, I don’t know that I ever expected to live through such radical times, or even have the desire to be such a radical revolutionary. I want to live in a society with a functioning government that is looking out for the good of all people. I want to sleep easy at night, knowing that those in positions of power are making thoughtful, careful, considered decisions, taking into account the good of all humanity and the planet that we share. I don’t think this kind of hope is unreasonable. And even as we come to terms with new reality setting into the U.S. post-November 9, as Churchill said: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” A daring call, and one that feels more relevant and inevitable than ever. Surely there will be setbacks, losses, along with victories and joy on the roller coaster ahead… But this is the journey. And we have to try. And we must persist. And we will win. 39

We can see the fear-based versions of this thru our cultural obsession with apocalyptic and disaster films.

Again, worth highlighting that this tends to be the view of white/privileged/elites, who see the problems but are not necessarily experiencing the most intense suffering of the current paradigm. People of color and impoverished nations are, generally speaking, not experiencing the same degree of “comfort” within the current system, nor does it seem fair to say they’re “too scared” to move into the next stage. These comments are aimed more towards people in power, white elites who are grappling with their own loss of power & privilege — which is an inevitable part of the Next System, and I believe we’re seeing those currently in power naturally (if subconsciously) scared/struggling against. 40

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THANK YOU to fellow thought leaders, colleagues, and friends, whose deep dialogue and vibrant conversation over the years has significantly contributed to the thoughts and ideas embedded in this essay. Surely there are too many to name and those I’ll embarrassingly forget, but especially thanks to Josh Adler, Dorit Avganim, Emilie Baltz, Nick Benacerraf, Andrew Boyd, Ryan Buckley, Brad Burgess, Neva Cockrell, Max Dana, Charles Darius, Penelope Douglas, Molly Freedenberg, Christopher Fülling, Arlene Goldbard, Sarah Hailey, Adam Horowitz, Andy Horwitz, Stephanie Ryan Johnstone, Kevin Jones, Helen Maxwell, Jimmy Maxwell, Robert Maxwell, Betsy McCall, Monica McCarthy, Megan McFadden, Leigh Melander, Kyoung H. Park, Nathan Rosquist, Phoebe J. Rosquist, Raphael Sacks, Emma Sanchez, Rachel Schragis, Shawn Shafner, Lindsay Smalling, Molly Sonsteng, Sam Utne, Ben Vershbow, K. Duncan Wall, Andrew Winchur. Beyond this, a quick note of gratitude to other major influences of fellow authors, incredible speakers I get to watch on a regular basis, and numerous brilliant conversations at bus stations with strangers whose names I’ll never know.

Brief biographical statement: Elizabeth Maxwell runs a year-round event series for SOCAP, the industry’s leading conference on impact investing and evolution of the social capital markets. She is also the Chief Dot Connector with the people-powered U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, a Marketing/ Communications consultant with the Joseph Campbell Foundation, and has previously served as Artist Director of the international Art Monastery Project. Originally from New Orleans, daughter of jazz musicians, with a double undergraduate degree from Louisiana Scholars’ College in Humanities/Social Thought and Theatre/Dance, Elizabeth is a hopelessly optimistic thinker, performer, producer, and human being. Contact: | 504-609-9774

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Appendix 1 5 quick points on problems & opportunities within the arts sector This should probably be developed into a longer, separate essay on the current state and future opportunities of the arts, but here is a quick outline of how we got here and where we might go:

1. Boatloads of professionals with no jobs in sight. Currently there is mass professionalization of artists without viable paths towards professionalization in the field and sustainable long-term career opportunities.41 The amount of higher education programs graduating students in performance/theatre, music, dance, fine arts, etc does not match the field’s capacity to provide professional opportunities to those individuals, especially at early-mid career stage (and by mid-senior level career stage, most have already found a way to make a living elsewhere). The results are: less professional artists in the world, and I would argue less significant art contributing to society in a meaningful way.

2. Jobs for hire, at a price // corruption of parallel industries. Couple this with the development/wealth in other industries, where many with creative backgrounds then find themselves (because psychologically there is still the impulse to use one’s creative talents and strive to “do something meaningful” with one’s life and “make a difference”, as the millennial generation and GenY has been indoctrinated that this is where their worth comes from). As explored in this essay: advertising industry and the entertainment industry are two biggest examples. I would argue that these fields have become as corrupt as politics (and similarly treated, where in common discourse it’s usually just brushed off as “the way things are” - although I strongly believe it’s time for more and people to start insisting that “just because it is the way things are, it is not the way things have to be!42). The advertising and entertainment industries as they are functioning today are core components of the consumer/capitalist machine: the former whose default mission it is to add a consistent firehose’s worth of fuel to the fire: buy buy buy the never-ending supply of things you NEED (…to be happy? …to be whole? …to shut up and not pay attention of destruction of the

There is a fair amount of research and analysis already on this. For more in depth reading on this, I recommend starting with The View From Here: State of the Performing Arts , an independent research report I was a contributing author on a few year back. Hans Abbing’s Why Are Artists Poor also frames problem from international perspective, and here's a few other resources to throw in the mix: 41


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planet and society all around you?). The entertainment industry seems to have a similar mission: to encourage a mindlessness, anti-intellectualist culture, although with further problems as to the perpetuation of violence as a norm. No time to even get into the misogyny (See: Bechdel testing), institutionalized racism (See: #OscarsSoWhite), etc. This is a corruption of these industries and a sore misappropriation of their potential. (Again, the problems here also get magnified/exponential considering U.S. is probably the largest exporters of culture in the world.43) For now, suffice it to say they are a contributing factor to sucking up the labor of the arts sector with luring, high-paying jobs that continue to fuel the current capitalist paradigm.

3. “There isn’t enough $$ for the arts”…is simply not true. The funding picture in the arts is bleak, as many within the sector have been complaining about for decades. But let’s put this in perspective: the U.S. annually spends roughly 4,000x more on war than the arts 44, from the federal discretionary spending budget. No one is saying take the defense budget to zero, but if small slivers of this were reallocated, imagine the potential. So, there’s lots of interesting ways I believe we can and should talk about alternative public funding support for arts/culture — and further analyze the implications of current funding structure on culture at large (i.e. perpetuating culture of violence, ways media industry aligns with political agenda to keep big government contracts tied into that giant defense budget number45, etc). Given that this beast has - thus far - seemed too big to tackle46, the sector has of course responded with multiple interesting alternatives to “make do” and find ways to build and allocate capital in the field in the meantime (because if there’s one weird thing about this whole piece, it’s that almost everyone believes the arts are important….it’s not actually where the field has trouble making the case, the difficulties lie in building power/ support for meaningful, long-term strategic change in the way the system operates). Primarily thus far, this gap has been filled by private foundations (as they often do, serving this important role of allocating philanthropic/“patient” capital) and individual donors whose support is invaluable to sustaining arts via the non-profit sector. However, more and more interesting proposals and alternatives are beginning to appear - including growing conversation within impact investing communities on creative ways to allocate capital to arts 43


2016 budget data: $148 million to the NEA vs $585 billion to the Department of Defense

One example: makers of Grand Theft Auto tied to Koch brothers lobbying efforts, etc. Many more clear examples of this in Jane Myers’ great new book, Dark Money 45

In theory, if one wanted to do it I’d say the first two steps are 1. Network together the capital and 2. Build mass public support - neither of which I believe is actually undoable, but will be more effective inside a larger Next System redesign/implementation & transition plan as we’re discussing here. 46

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& culture-based initiatives, alongside a few progressive states and cities that are experimenting with reallocation of local taxes to expand arts/cultural budgets47 - and ever more proposals around creative alternatives to remodel funding structures in the field at large 48.

4. “Arts don’t return a profit” <— is also what you hear There’s a fair amount of debate on whether this “failure to return financial profits” is even true — lots of ways arts are starting to be acknowledged as force for economic development — question remains whose development, and to what end. Theaters, galleries, performing arts venues, etc. have long been traced to increased economic impact on the communities in which they reside, although again, this falls under the realm the arts have “made it by” in the existing consumer capitalist paradigm — criticism/debate within the arts sector if this is helpful to participate in, as link between art + gentrification/displacement of communities is strong (mural projects increase property value of neighborhoods; organization/institutionsanctioned or not, artists themselves tend to seek housing in more affordable neighborhoods, and contribute to community in ways that within a few years leads to higher property values, ironically, that they themselves can no longer afford). This is a bastardization of the purpose of the arts, and the role of artists in society - and must also be addressed in serious system redesign. This is where the growing conversation in impact investing communities is critically important, as progressive investors have for 10+ years been bringing to the forefront the concept of “social and environmental returns” need to be considered with any capital allocation, alongside financial returns. Many further parallels to explore here as these conversations overlap more and more; for example, modeled after the environmental impact studies in the 70s/80s that were critical to building early fights against global warming, Cultural Impact Study has been proposed as similar model to monitor cultural impact on communities as new development projects are considered, infrastructure proposals, etc.49

A few examples… St. Louis: Minnesota: Seattle: Cross-states, alliances to develop art funding across sectors: 47

See recommendations in The View From Here, concrete proposals in USDAC platform, other thoughts on untapped funding sources within the arts, etc. 48


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5. How will we protect art & culture in service of the public good? When viewed thru lens of the international stage, the overall support and funding in the U.S. of arts and culture is flat out embarrassing.50 To that end, progressive funders (as mentioned above), and series of independent organizations have stepped forth to work towards closing that gap (most notably, people-powered U.S. Department of Arts & Culture). To reiterate once again: the privatization of our public institutions has implications for every sector that concerns the public good, and the cultural life of our nation has felt some of the harshest losses on that battleground thus far. This is the front on which we must rebuild, if we are to truly create a Next System to function for generations/centuries to come.


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Profile for Liz Maxwell

Elizabeth Maxwell | Money, Art, & God: Towards Power and Transition for the Next System  

Elizabeth Maxwell | Money, Art, & God: Towards Power and Transition for the Next System