...the first challenge...is to build and strengthen the alternative institutions of the commons. By institutions, of course, we are not referring to the institutions of a political regime such as parliaments, executives and the like. Nor are we referring to those which may lie between the regime and the movement, such as political parties, unions or other organizations.
We are referring to institutions which provide a foundation for the movement and are defined by their own autonomy: social centers, activist collectives, alternative media, credit unions and co-operatives. Institutions like these constitute no more and no less than material spaces in which we can articulate the values, social practices and lifestyles underlying the social climate change taking place all over the world.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up