Welcome to The Relational Democracy Project

Working to Make our Everyday Relations More Democratic

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reinhardt redwood regional, oakland, california :: @ebrpd :: photo credit: @dr.cbg

I mean the stature of soul, the range and depth of love, capacity for relationships. I mean the volume of life you can take into your being and still maintain your integrity and individuality, the intensity and variety of outlook you can entertain in the unity of your being without feeling defensive or insecure. I mean the strength of your spirit to encourage others to become freer in the development of their diversity and uniqueness. I mean the power to sustain more complex and enriching tensions. I mean the magnanimity of concern to provide conditions that enable others to increase in stature.

The Relational Democracy Project (RDP) begins with the understanding that relations are the basis of change in the universe. Our relations with one another — whether masked and in-person, or remote— are where power moves between us in practices. When power is more or less balanced, it is relationally democratic and healthiest for humans, for the processes and systems humans create and use, and for the other beings with whom we share the planet.

We all forget sometimes what democracy means to us every day, especially when we’re buried in capitalist demands and distractions. When we think of democracy, we think of voting. We think of elections and politics. This year, we were certainly reminded that our votes matter. We learned that our election processes and systems are beat up, but still function properly despite the politics.

Even though everything rests on them, we forget to embody democratic ideas in relation with each other. We vote democratically, but we often live our everyday lives differently. Kind of like aggressively speeding home from a meditation class or flipping off the guy behind you on the way home from Sunday morning church services.

Cultural change happens when the relations between us change, and we change those by changing our practices. We can orient our culture toward democratic norms that support the health of our elections by embodying relationally democratic practices that balance power between us every day.

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cathy, in the north bay visiting friends, 2017

Cathy B. Glenn, Ph.D. is a critical researcher, creative, and cultural worker whose areas of expertise are power, culture, and change.

Formerly Private Principal Investigator for The Center for U.S. Rural Cultures Studies, she now acts as Educational Content Director and Developer for The Relational Democracy Project.

RDP organically grew from research and development sponsored by the Center and conducted by Cathy since 11.8.2016. Reach out at relationaldemocracy@gmail.com.

Projects in Process


The Human Basis of Democracy: Relational Power-Sharing & Everyday Authoritarianism in Rural American Cultures is a nonfiction manuscript in progress that shares findings from 3.5 years’ anthropological ethnographic immersion–post-11.8.16–in two distinct rural cultures: Cave Junction, Oregon and Sea Ranch, California. At bottom, the book shows how the human commitment to share power founds democratic systems and processes.

The study’s method–framed in both process philosophy and anthropological ethnographic terms–is unique in its longevity in the field and total immersion protocols. Theoretically framed in terms generally reserved for urban cultural studies–but accessible to most audiences–the analysis of rural cultural norms and practices introduces newly relevant field-grounded concepts of power, relations, and agency.

The study’s findings identify normal everyday authoritarian practices — relational power-stealing and -hoarding — in both rural cultures. The practices described have devastating impacts on human safety, trust, and well-being–the cultural enabling conditions that support democratic processes and systems. Also described is a generational orientation embodied by members of the two Rural American Cultures whose normal relational practices destroy natural resources and function to support state-level authoritarianism.

The Human Basis of Democracy puts the tools to understand and navigate power relations in every concerned U.S. American’s hands. Unapologetically a description of what’s democratically possible in the United States, the book makes recommendations for reclaiming stolen power, creating power-sharing relations, and producing new sources of power.

The book concludes with an argument for a national effort to collect “relational big data” in RAC as a national data-based effort to understand everyday authoritarian cultures and promote democratic practices through research-based cultural work efforts. Project background.



Cultural work practices focused in power-stealing and hoarding contexts include questioning and challenging imbalanced power relations to loosen packed down social soil around power-stealing and hoarding sites.

Cultural work practices also amend the social soil with fresh, creative nutrients — power-sharing ideas, stories, and practices — while hand-tilling that soil to encourage growth and wide-spread diffusion of democratic practices that can develop into norms.

Cultural work practices focus on those most vulnerable to power-stealing in order to create conditions within which everyone is empowered to drive their forward momentum.



Field Research :: Case Studies (UNDER CONSTRUCTION)

Southern Oregon

Sea Ranch, California

Individual Businesses


Written by

SF Bay Area critical researcher, creative, & cultural worker. Content developer for The Relational Democracy Project relationaldemocracy@gmail.com IG @dr.cbg