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.
~Bernard Loomer, American professor and process theologian
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.
Democracy, though, is more than voting and elections: those are necessary for healthy democracies, but not sufficient to maintain them. Instead, voting and elections are essential tools that emerged from a set of values and hopes that we aspire to embody in relation with each other as Americans: expression, inclusion, openness, transparency, support, and safety.
It is in our everyday practices that we embody those values and hopes, and doing so, we share our power with others to move forward. This is the human basis of democracy.
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.
The RDP generates original research that grows our cultural work, creative projects, and practical recommendations and advice about how to proliferate everyday democratic practices.
RDP organically grew from research and development sponsored by the Center and conducted by Cathy since 11.8.2016. Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Native to and back home in the San Francisco East Bay, Cathy is an escaped academic researcher - experiencing and…
How Authoritarianism Found Me
(Or, A Little of What Happened When I Invested Everything in 5 Years of Time)
"In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a…
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.
"ISO" :: a solo performance
In development; check back regularly for updates "ISO" is a 75-minute solo performance in progress about long-term…
A Tree and A Turn: How Trees and Trails Saved my Life
In development; check back regularly for updates A Tree and A Turn: How Trees and Trails Saved my Life is a memoir in…
Planted :: A screenplay
In development; check back regularly for updates Planted is an original screenplay in development that tells the…
Reclamation: Remembering How to Fly
Reclamation: Remembering How to Fly is a novel in progress based loosely on the author's escape from her violently…
[A]ll I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks” The Notorious RBG (quoting Sarah Moore Grimké)
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.
Octapharma Plasma: A Data-Based User Experience
From the series “Stealing Power from the Most Vulnerable: Authoritarian Practices in U.S. Business Cultures” for An…
The Center's Cultural Work: The Sea Ranch Nonhuman Residents Project
"A half-century ago a visionary developer and a group of like-minded architects and designers conceived a grand…
The Center's Cultural Work: "The Little Cottage that Looked Back"
"The Little Cottage that Looked Back" This is a public expression of the ongoing events related to the Sea Ranch rental…
RESEARCH :: BLOG ARTICLES
10 Data-Based Relational Principles of Power
A Series: Building A Relational Frame for Creating Democratic Practices in a Capitalist Culture
Authoritarianism Functions in Everyday Practices That We Can Change
And Democracy Functions There, Too
Authoritarian Practices in Rural American Cultures
Open Cultures Grow Democratic Norms
How Families can be Authoritarian
Authoritarian families grow humans who fit perfectly into top-down systems, don’t dissent, and enable tyrants at the…
7 Reasons Why Rural America Matters To You Even Though You Can’t Feel it Yet
The disproportionate power granted to rural Americans ― who are far more likely to be old, white and conservative than…
RESEARCH :: ACADEMIC PUBLICATIONS
Select publications are linked below to PDF share copies. You can find a more complete list of my publications here…
Field Research :: Case Studies (UNDER CONSTRUCTION)
- Cave Junction Health Clinic
- Cave Junction Ace Hardware store
- Illinois Valley Real Estate
- Redwood Service Center/Cavenet
- Kerby Water District
- Illinois Valley Fine Artists
- Grants Pass & Illinois Valley Democrats
- SOlisted Group at EXP Realty/Mike Polen
- Southern Oregon University
- Josephine County Gun Show/Fairgrounds
- Southern Oregon Veterinary Specialty Center (Medford Emergency Vet)
- PAPA’s Dispensary
- CJ Dollar Store
Sea Ranch, California
- Sea Ranch cottage/John T. and Anita Taylor
- The Sea Ranch Association/Lisa and Mr. Dundee
- The Sea Ranch Association/Sea Ranch Connect staff
- Tom’s Plumbing/staff and Mary@Sea Ranch Water Co.
- Gualala Health Clinic
- Gualala Veterinary Clinic
- Gualala Supermarket & Bakery
- Octapharma Plasma San Pablo
- OCD Moving Services
- Contractors: Darren Billings
- Contractor: Jon C. Carroll
- Sprouts Pinole
- Airbnb/management and host
- Brenda Reinertson, Artist, BR story
- Travis Credit Union