The Ecology of Democracy
Finding Ways to Have a Stronger Hand in Shaping Our Future
Kettering Foundation Press
OverviewThe Ecology of Democracy: Finding Ways to Have a Stronger Hand in Shaping Our Future is for people who care deeply about their communities and their country but worry about problems that endanger their future and that of their children. Jobs are disappearing, or the jobs people want aren’t available. Health care costs keep going up, and the system seems harder to navigate. Many worry that our schools aren’t as good as they should be. The political system is mired in hyperpolarization. Citizens feel pushed to the sidelines.Rather than giving in to despair and cynicism, some Americans are determined to have a stronger hand in shaping their future. Suspicious of big reforms and big institutions, they are starting where they are with what they have.This book is also for governmental and nongovernmental organizations, as well as educational institutions that are trying to engage these citizens. Their efforts aren’t stopping the steady erosion of public confidence, so they are looking for a different kind of public participation.The work of democracy is work. Here are some ideas about how it can be done in ways that put more control in the hands of citizens and help restore the legitimacy of our institutions.
David Mathews served as president of the Kettering Foundation from 1981 to 2022. He is now president emeritus. He was Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare in the Ford administration and taught history at the University of Alabama, where he was president from 1969 to 1980. Mathews has written extensively on Southern history, public policy, community problem solving, education, and international relations. His books include Politics for People: Finding a Responsible Public Voice; The Ecology of Democracy: Finding Ways to Have a Stronger Hand in Shaping Our Future; With the People: An Introduction to an Idea; Together: Building Better, Stronger Communities; and With: A Strategy for Renewing Our Democracy.