Building Thriving, Resilient Communities

Guide 5: Shifting the System

photo: (cc) by-nc-sa Poverty Initiative

photo: (cc) by-nc-sa Poverty Initiative

Ready to connect change in your neighborhood with change in larger systems? Guide #5 includes research, legal information, organizing strategies, models and tools to shift current policies, systems, and infrastructure in ways that will support and foster community resilience.

Best Practices & Policy/Legal Resources

  • CommunityCurrenciesLaw.org provides legal information, best practices, and supporting tools for time banks, local currencies, and barter exchanges, curated by the Sustainable Economies Law Center.
  • CommunityEnterpriseLaw.org shares legal information, best practices, and supporting tools for local finance and investing, curated by the Sustainable Economies Law Center.
  • Community-Wealth.org highlights strategies and models for democratic, community-based economic development.
  • Co-opLaw.org shares legal information, best practices, and supporting tools for cooperatively owned businesses and organizations, curated by the Sustainable Economies Law Center.
  • Dig, Eat, & Be Healthy: Guide to Growing Food on Public Lands from ChangeLab Solutions is a collection of resources to access public land for growing food, including strategies for partnering with public agencies, common types of agreements that govern the relationship between food-growing groups and public entities, special issues related to growing food on school district properties, and more.
  • Institute for Local Self-Reliance produces research, publications, and multi-media materials exploring the impacts of big-box retail as well as the benefits, trends and opportunities in independent business and local self-reliance.
  • Legal Eats: Legal Resources for Food Justice Enterprises, from the Sustainable Economies Law Center, is available online in a text manual & video workshop series
  • On the Commons is an online hub and strategy center for the Commons Movement, which highlights co-creative projects and innovative strategies for creating and protecting our commons, such as water, food, farmland, and seeds.
  • Practicing Law in the Sharing Economy: Helping People Build Cooperatives, Social Enterprise, and Local Sustainable Economies by Janelle Orsi of the Sustainable Economies Law Center is designed for attorneys interested in developing the basic skills and knowledge to serve the legal needs of the sharing economy.
  • Policies for Shareable Cities: A Sharing Economy Policy Primer for Urban Leaders, from Shareable and the Sustainable Economies Law Center, details 32 specific policy steps that local leaders can take to benefit from the growing sharing economy and support innovations such as car-sharing, ride-sharing, urban agriculture, housing, cooperatives, and more.
  • Raising Student Voices: Student Action for University Community Investment from Democracy Collaborative is a report and webinar exploring strategies for university investment in local economies, drawing from successful examples around the US.
  • Seeding the City: Land Use Policies to Promote Urban Agriculture, from ChangeLab Solutions, is a toolkit to promoting urban agriculture through local land use codes, drawing from the experiences of communities across the US.
  • UrbanAgLaw.org is an online resource center for legal information, best practices, and supporting tools for urban agriculture in the US, curated by the Sustainable Economies Law Center.

Campaigns & Organizing

  • 350 Workshops Toolkit by 350.org is a collection of documents, notes, tips and ideas on climate leadership and organizing.
  • Cool Community Campaign, from Empowerment Institute, assists local governments and community-based organizations in implementing the Low Carbon Diet in their communities.
  • Democracy School, by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, is an in-person course teaching citizens and activists how to reframe exhausting and often discouraging single-issue work (such as opposing toxic dumps, factory farms, etc.) in a way that confronts corporate control on a powerful single front: our constitutional rights.
  • Ecological Justice: A Training Manual for Urban Social Justice Organizations, developed by Movement Generation Justice and Ecology Project, is a curriculum that explores and supports the formulation of just solutions to the intensifying ecological crisis and its impact on urban communities of color.
  • Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaigns, coordinated by 350.org, offer organizing support, resources, and networking between student-run fossil fuel divestment campaigns at universities across the US and around the world.
  • The Most Amazing Online Organizing Guide, by Green Memes, compiles strategic advice, tactical tips, and case studies on social media, messaging and storytelling, graphics, and email communication from more than 30 talented online organizers.
  • Thrive Hub Organizing Guide, from Generation Waking Up, provides simple steps for young people to learn together, build community, and take collaborative action toward making their campus and community a model of a thriving, just, and sustainable world.
  • Training for Change hosts an online resource hub for activist training materials for groups standing up for justice, peace, and the environment through strategic non-violence.


  • Community Commons offers tools for creating community maps and data reports that can be saved and shared.
  • Dreaming New Mexico by Bioneers is an energy and foodshed mapping project utilizing strategic convenings, targeted briefings, education, collaborations and alliances to develop a collaborative framework for a cross-sectoral vision of restoration, including breakthrough ideas, tools, processes, strategies, and “future maps.”
  • Getting Your Green-Collar Job, hosted by Green For All, is an online collection of resources for green-collar job postings and trainings.
  • Guide to Developing an Energy Descent Action Plan, from Transition Network, provides a framework for a community visioning, engagement, and strategic planning process to move away from fossil fuel dependency toward local resilience.
  • Regional Calculators for Local Investment and Job Creation, from Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, allows users to easily identify what their community buys and imports, revealing the obvious in-demand business and job creation opportunities available in their local economy.