What is democracy? Freedom, equality, participation? Everyone has his or her own definition. Across the world countries have a least the minimum trappings of democracy, but for many this is just the beginning. Following decades of US-backed dictatorships, civil wars and structural adjustment policies in the South, and corporate control, electoral corruption and fraud in the North, representative politics in the Americas is in crisis. Citizens are now choosing to redefine democracy under their own terms: local, direct and participatory. In Brazil, they have installed participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre, in Venezuela President Chavez came to power with the promise of granting direct participation to the people, and all across the Americas social movements and constitutional assemblies are taking authority away from the ruling elites and putting power into the hands of their members and citizens. This DVD features interviews with Eduardo Galeano, Amy Goodman, Emir Sader, Martha Harnecker, Ward Churchill and Leonardo Avritzer as well as cooperative and community members, elected representatives, academics and activists from Brazil, Canada, Venezuela, Argentina, United States, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia and more. It takes us on a journey across the Americas in an attempt to answer the question "What is Democracy?"
This collection of eleven cases from Canada and the United States gives expression to the ideal of a new economy based on fairness and environmental sustainability. Grappling with complex problems in their local communities, organized citizens are forging innovation, prying open cracks in the prevailing economic system and seizing opportunities to redirect economic life.
Featured here are examples in urban and rural contexts and ethnically diverse settings — First Nations, Inuit, Latino, African American, predominantly white, and mixed communities — where citizens are challenging the short-term focus of political leadership and taking action now to pave the way for an economy that can sustain future generations. They illustrate a new way of working, tying economic justice to the creation of multiple types of environmental, economic and social assets or forms of wealth.