Click here for Democracy School schedule page.
Click here for curriculum.
If you would like to set up one or a series of Democracy Schools in your area, first please read carefully the information below. If you decide to proceed, please contact Stacey Schmader at the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), (717) 709-0457. You can check the current Democracy School locations and schedules here.

What's Democracy School?
Why run a Democracy School in my area?
How do we set it up?
What should we charge participants?
What are the costs?
What's after Democracy School?

What's Democracy School?

At the most fundamental level, our weekend-long Democracy School addresses why democratic self-governance is impossible when corporations wield constitutional rights to deny people's rights, and how we are able to rectify these wrongs.

Richard Grossman Democracy School was created by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) and Richard Grossman, co-founder of the Program on Corporations, Law, and Democracy (POCLAD). Democracy Schools were launched with five weekend sessions at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania in 2003, and the number of schools is growing rapidly. In 2004, the Democracy Schools have been held five times at Wilson College, three times at Boston College, once in Brattleboro, and once at the North Carolina Blue Ridge Assembly. Participants have come from across the country, including California, Iowa, Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Washington, Alabama, Vermont and Pennsylvania.

Democracy School teaches a paradigm shift, a dramatic new way of looking at our role as citizens in a democracy, and how to assert our inalienable rights as a sovereign people. Attendees explore the limits of conventional regulatory organizing and learn how to "reframe" single issues to confront the rights used by corporations to deny the rights of communities, people, and the earth. Lectures cover the history of people's movements and corporate power, and the dramatic recent organizing in Pennsylvania by communities confronting agribusiness, sewage sludge, and quarry corporations. Included with Democracy School are a 190-page notebook of background reading material, and a copy of Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy. For a historical review of the Pennsylvania work through the end of 2003, see a feature article that appeared in Orion Magazine.

Tom Linzey in Arcata Attorney Thomas Linzey founded CELDF in 1994 with Stacey Schmader to help communities organize to oppose corporate assaults on republican democracy. Richard Grossman and Thomas Linzey authored many of the written materials that attendees receive for the School.

Dedication: Democracy School is dedicated to the memory of Daniel Pennock, a 17-year-old boy from Berks County, Pennsylvania, who died in 1995 after being exposed involuntarily to land applied sewage sludge. Daniel's parents, Antoinette and Russell Pennock, travel across Pennsylvania to end the practice of sludge disposal, by which waste management corporations reap massive profits hauling and spreading sludge on farmland.

Why run a Democracy School in my area?

The most urgent reason for holding a Democracy School is when a corporation wants to put a harmful operation in a community for its own profit and to the detriment of the residents. Democracy School provides tools for communities to bypass the regulatory system, where they are destined to lose, and to learn to defend themselves where they have a fighting chance, on the basis of our constitutional and inalienable rights as citizens in a democracy.

Democracy School can also be a vital component of public education -- where people can learn essential American history that was never taught in our schools, and see how these lessons may be applied to further democracy, and challenge the rule of the very few over the vast majority of us. The Schools help us prepare to confront corporate harms, whether they are imposed by corporations themselves or by our government acting on their behalf.

How do we set it up?

For the most part Democracy Schools are organized by people who have already attended at least one. Under some circumstances we will work with someone who has not yet participated.

The first step towards setting up a Democracy School is to talk with other people in your group or larger community who you think would be interested. If there are activist groups that will be involved, it's important to get at least two people from each group so they can support each other when they go back to their groups to explain the work (and it's usually not possible to explain a weekend of Democracy School in a few sound bites). Note that typically about half of the attendees sign up well in advance, and the other half in the last week or two before the course begins. Feel free to contact Adam if you have questions about how best to approach people or need further information.

Tom Linzey and Group Discussion The maximum number of participants is around fifteen. If it appears that you can get from ten to fifteen people to attend, the next step is to call us to discuss your proposed Democracy School. We will work with you to set a date -- usually over a weekend from Friday at 7 p.m. through Sunday at noon. Pick at least three possible dates to make sure that there are instructors available for at least one of those times. Upon receipt of the administrative fee (explained below), we will schedule two instructors for your Democracy School, and provide a link from the main Democracy School web page to your website (or, if you don't have a website, we will work with you to construct a web page for a minimal fee).

An important item to consider is how many people, if any, will need overnight accommodations, and to what extent you want to include the accommodations in your tuition. For example, at the Pennsylvania school which takes place in Chambersburg, most participants are from out of town. Accordingly the sponsoring organization, CELDF, arranges for lodging and meals at a local school, Wilson College. In contrast, most of the participants at the Boston Democracy School live in the local area, and the sponsoring organization, the Center for Democracy and the Constitution, simply refers those from out of town to reasonably priced accommodations.

What should we charge participants?

What you charge participants is entirely up to you. It will depend on a number of factors, such as how much (if anything) you pay for a facility to host the Democracy School, whether you have supplemental funding, whether you are including the costs of lodging and meals, and the extent to which you want to offer a sliding scale.

For example, the tuition for the Pennsylvania School, which includes lodging and meals, is $385. The Boston School, which includes snacks and one working meal, but no lodging, is $275. The Boston School offers full or partial scholarships to up to a third of the participants -- the availability of scholarships is up to each individual School.

Finally, you will want to be sure to post a clear refund policy, covering cancellations on the part of the School, the participant, due to inclement weather, etc. Check the Pennsylvania and Boston Schools for sample refund policies.

What are the costs?

Here is an example of the costs of running a Democracy School. Costs for each school will vary depending on local factors, transportation, etc.
  • Instructor fee: $1,500 - $2,000 (two certified instructors)
  • Instructor transportation, lodging and meals: $ variable
    Transportation, lodging and meal expenses will depend entirely on distance travelled and costs in your locality. As we continue to train instructors, more will be available closer to your area thereby reducing costs.
  • Facilities: $ variable
    Costs for facilities depend entirely on how you decide to set up the School. Some of our Democracy Schools get free space because the sponsoring organization has a friend or Board member on a college faculty. Others pay for space in a hotel or community organization building. Two additional items are required: an easel with pad, tape, and markers, and a TV/VCR.
  • Snacks and group meal: $15/participant
    Democracy Schools usually provide snacks throughout the day. In addition, a buffet lunch or dinner is also provided on Saturday, during which people socialize and watch an excellent video on the corporatization of public transportation, "Taken for a Ride." Beyond snacks and the buffet meal, if participants are paying for food and lodging you will add those costs to the tuition.
  • Course Materials: approximately $35/person
    Participants receive a 180-page notebook of pre-School readings -- we will provide you with a master and you will make copies. Including the binder and labels, the notebooks cost $15-20 apiece to reproduce; they are shipped to people at least two weeks prior to School. Also included in the tuition is a copy of the foundation book published by POCLAD, Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy; these retail for $18 -- as a Democracy School sponsor you will pay shipping but also receive a 40% discount from publisher Apex Press.
  • Administrative fee: $150
    The administrative fee, payable to the Center for Democracy and the Constitution, helps cover our costs of making Democracy School available across the country. It includes consulting time to help set up your School, a master copy of the student notebook, and a copy of "Taking Care of Business" by Richard Grossman and Frank T. Adams for every attendee. It also includes a Democracy School web page template that you can use on your website.
  • Web page fee: Optional, $25 If your group doesn't have its own website, we will host your Democracy School web page for you.
  • Videotape of Thomas Linzey presenting the Pennsylvania story: Optional, $250
    If you would like to view Thomas's original presentation during your Democracy School (assuming that he isn't one of the instructors), this fee covers a one-time use license. Otherwise the same material will be presented by the Democracy School instructors.
A typical example of how the economics work out is as follows, assuming fifteen participants who live in the local area (i.e., no hotel accommodations or additional meals necessary) paying tuition of $275:

  Instructors:            $2,000
  Travel,accommodations:   1,000
  Classroom facility:        200
  Snacks,meal:               225
  Course materials:          525
  Administrative fee:        150

  TOTAL EXPENSES:         $4,100

  TOTAL INCOME:           $4,125


What's after Democracy School?

Democracy Schools are not an end in themselves -- we teach them as part of challenging corporate control of government and building a democracy movement in this country. Therefore we see Schools as a first step in moving communities to rights-based organizing.

There are a number of next steps to take, depending on local circumstances. One is to send speakers into the community to educate others on rights-based organizing. Another is to develop strategies and tactics to defend against imminent or existing corporate harms. And finally, to continue sponsoring Democracy Schools to move our organizing into wider and wider circles. Thomas Linzey and CELDF will continue to consult with local groups as they move forward.

For further information, please contact
Stacey Schmader at the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), (717) 709-0457.

Class at Lunch

Day 1, Evening
  • Introductions of Attendees
  • Discussion:
    • "What is Our Concept of Democracy?"
    • "What is Our History of Regulatory Activism?"
    • "Does Our Work Vindicate Our Concept of Democracy?"
  • How We Got Here: A Brief Overview of the School and the Evolution of POCLAD/CELDF

Richard at the Blackboard

Day 2, All Day and Evening (may include buffet dinner)
  • The Historical Role and Nature of Corporations in the United States
  • The Role of Corporate Charters
  • The Conferral of Corporate Constitutional Rights
  • A History of Peoples' Movements in the United States
    • The American Revolution
    • The Articles of Confederation and the Constitution
    • The Anti-Federalists
    • The Populists
    • The Abolitionists and the Fourteenth Amendment
    • Womens' Rights and the Nineteenth Amendment
    • The Labor Movement
  • What Have We Learned from These Movements?
  • Common Theories, Strategies, and Actions
    • Theory of the Constitution
    • Theory of the Corporation
    • Theory of Democracy
  • Building on the Lessons of Prior Movements
  • Building New Models of Organizing
  • The "Single Issue: Model: From Reframing to Winning"
  • Driving into Local Governing Arenas
  • Challenging and Contesting Corporations
    • Contesting Government Actions Empowering Corporations to Usurp Community Control From Reframing to Drawing the Corporate Response To Building New Constituencies To Winning
    • Altering the Odds: Directly Challenging Corporate Rights
    • The Porter Township, Clarion County Experience: Eliminating Legal Privileges Claimed by Corporations

Student with Chart

Day 3, Morning
  • Building the Connections Amongst All Single Issues
  • Our History of Collaterally Challenging Illegitimate Corporate Authority
  • Breakout: Reframing Single Issues by Rethinking Several Issues
  • An Exploration of Jurisdictions and Arenas
  • Other Constituencies
  • Critical Mass: Doing it Together and Building a Movement
  • This is the Work: Groups Across the United States Applying New Models
  • Discussion: How Do We Make Real the Promises of Democracy?