Important Resources


Our elite class system is the predominant political and social force in our country at this time. And it has been that way since the beginning of not only our country but virtually all Western societies. 

In spite of this America is rich in democratic practices, attitudes, dispositions, organizations, systems, traditions, and committed people. In order to grow our democracy we must use and develop all of these resources as well as create more powerful ones.

In this section we list significant organizations and people who are behind growing our democracy, not just fixing what we have. Our list has four categories: Culture, Group Dynamics, Organizing, and Practice.

We see these as the four key elements in building a long-term democracy movement driven by everyday people in all of our diversity. These four categories are also the primary areas of concentration in our Growing Democracy Learning Labs.

We have begun this list in September 2023, and will add to it continuously. Please contact us if there are people or organizations you think belong on our lists, and tell us why.

Thank you and enjoy your explorations of our resources.

The Growing Democracy Project rests on a clear vision of everyday citizens developing the capacity to talk with each other face-to-face with an uncommon genuineness that would make the world they share work as well as possible for everybody involved. 

Surprisingly, honest communication—and that means communication which includes giving and receiving feedback—has powerful impact on three aspects of well-being: that which comes from experiencing pleasure, enjoyment, and happiness; that which comes from meaning, fulfillment, and individual autonomy; and the well-being that comes with deeper social connection. 

Paul W.B. Atkins, David Sloan Wilson, Steven C. Hayes

They are the co-authors of PROSOCIAL: Using Evolutionary Science to Build Productive, Equitable, & Collaborative Groups. In the book they devote eight chapters to a practical method for improving collaboration within and between the groups you care about. Each chapter elaborates on one of Elinor Ostrom’s 8 Core Design Principles.

They designed their Prosocial process to be modular. It contains six interlocking modules, which groups can use separately or in combination:

  1. Measurements for assessment and diagnosis
  2. The individual matrix
  3. The core design principles
  4. The collective matrix
  5. Goal setting
  6. Measurements for evaluating change

Robert Crosby

Beginning in 1953 Crosby has focused on the application of behavioral and social sciences to organizations and communities from a democratic perspective. For decades he has consulted with or advised consultants and staffs of several hundred organizations, sharing his expertise in productivity and quality, employee involvement, conflict management, performance measurement, team building, organization or group diagnosis and change management.

He is the author with his two sons, Chris and Gilmore, of Memoirs of A Change Agent, written to illustrate Organization Development (OD). It includes stories of significant interventions in manufacturing, nuclear industry, software and community development. The author takes one into the nitty-gritty of his successful interventions. Beyond the amazing interventions, Crosby shares mostly unknown information about the beginning of Organization Development and integrates social justice with it as was the case in the birth of the T-group and the Organization Development movement.

Crosby clients have included energy, telecommunications, aerospace and chemical industries, as well as by a broad range of state and local government agencies.

Elinor Ostrom

The Nobel Prize Award:

“It was long unanimously held among economists that natural resources that were collectively used by their users would be over-exploited and destroyed in the long-term. Elinor Ostrom disproved this idea by conducting field studies on how people in small, local communities manage shared natural resources, such as pastures, fishing waters, and forests. She showed that when natural resources are jointly used by their users, in time, rules are established for how these are to be cared for and used in a way that is both economically and ecologically sustainable.”

She has summed up her discoveries in Eight Core Design Principles.

In his article, The Tragedy of the Commons: How Elinor Ostrom Solved One of Life’s Greatest Dilemmas, Evolutionist David Sloan Wilson gives some rich context for the significance of Ostrom’s discoveries. In addition, he shows how the design principles for solving the tragedy of the commons can be applied to all groups.

Chapter 2 of PROSOCIAL: Using Evolutionary Science to Build Productive, Equitable, & Collaborative Groups integrates these principles with the basic discoveries of cultural evolution.

Vanessa Woods

Very few books show how small groups struggle within themselves to work well, and fail to a great degree. Woods’

It’s Every Monkey for Themselves: A true story of sex love, and lies in the Jungle does this and does it well. It’s a hidden treasure. 

She had a research job, a contract with Disney Channel and would spend the year working with a small community of dedicated like-minded scientific souls researching the behavior of capuchin monkeys while making a documentary about Costa Rican wildlife. Well, at least it started that way. One reader had this to say: “I stayed up until 3:30am and read this book in one sitting, I couldn't stop. It was utterly compelling. It's true that it's full of drama, and no character is quite innocent. But these are the kinds of dramas that make up most people's lives (although this was a very intense version). I really admire the honesty, the eye for detail, and the critical self-scrutiny of the book.

If you want to learn about how groups work well, this can be, ironically, a great aid. It will let you know how hard he work is.