Welcome to The Relational Democracy Project

Building Relationally Democratic Cultural Infrastructure From the Ground Up

reinholdt redwood regional park, oakland, california @ebrpd (image mine)

The human basis of democracy is in our commitment to share power with each other in everyday practices.

[All work generated by has been transferred to The Relational Democracy project.]

MISSION :: RDP generates original in-field research that grows cultural work and creative projects aimed at proliferating everyday democratic practices in U.S. cultures.

VISION :: A country whose balanced human power relations create healthy enabling conditions for democratic processes and systems.


  • Transparency is essential. RDP works with no blinds on the windows.
  • Openness is critical. RDP’s channels of communication are always accessible.
  • Accuracy is fundamental. RDP’s content is always data-based.
  • Independence is key. RDP’s projects adhere to its mission, vision, and values in achieving its goals.
  • Firsthand experience is vital. RDP’s projects and their implementation are based on original in-field research that begins from the bottom and margins of cultures.


  • Begin collection of “relational big data” used to understand imbalanced human power relations in actual living conditions on the ground of U.S. cultures.
  • Create the most comprehensive and accessible source of knowledge in the nation about U.S. relational cultures and their connection to democratic norms.
  • Recreate human connection in hostile environments using qualitative research methods geared to understanding fellow humans.
  • Nurture conditions for human trust, vulnerability, expression, and self-knowledge — all of which support democratic processes and systems.
  • Model power sharing practices, those that are fair and equal in terms of giving and sharing efforts and resources.
  • Model transparent, open, and informationally accurate business and professional practices.
  • Provide tools for developing community media and arts resources from the bottom and margins of cultures.
  • Provide free access to resources that support relational health and human well-being.
  • Develop possibilities for local intellectual labor opportunities.
  • Develop local researchers who can also train others in the area.
  • Embody independence from business, academic, religious, and political organizations by making decisions and judgements based solely on RDP’s mission and aligned with its vision and values.
In Santa Rosa, CA, 2017, visiting friends

. is an independent critical researcher, creative, and cultural worker whose are power, culture, and change.

Formerly for , she now acts as Educational Content Director and Developer for .

RDP organically grew from research and development sponsored by the Center and conducted by Cathy since 11.8.2016. For more information, reach out to relationaldemocracy@gmail.com.

Projects in Process


The Human Basis of Democracy: Relational Power-Sharing & Everyday Authoritarianism in Rural American Cultures (RAC) is a nonfiction manuscript in progress that shares findings from 3.5 years’ immersed research–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 in everyday practices founds democratic systems and processes.

The study’s method–framed in both process philosophy and autoethnographic 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 analyses of rural cultural norms and practices introduces newly relevant field-grounded concepts of power, relations, democracy, and authoritarianism.

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 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 broad effort to understand everyday authoritarian cultures in the U.S., while promoting democratic practices through research-based creative and cultural work efforts.



[A]ll I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks” The Notorious RBG (quoting )

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.

RESEARCH :: BLOG ARTICLES (Password required)

“10 Data-Based Relational Principles of Power”
A Series: Building A Relational Frame for Creating Democratic Practices in a Capitalist Culture

“We Voted out a Tyrant to Save our Fragile Democracy: Now What?”
Proliferating Balance in our Relations by Embodying Democratic Practices

First in the Series “Building a Case for Cultural Work in White Rural America”

“Growing a Radically Democratic U.S. Relational Culture”
Second in the Series “Building a Case for Cultural Work in White Rural America”

“The RDP Cultural Change Vehicle”
A Proposal for Balancing Power Relations in U.S. Cultures From the Ground Up

“How Families can be Authoritarian”
Authoritarian families grow humans who fit perfectly into authoritarian systems

“7 Reasons Why Rural America Matters To You Even Though You Can’t Feel it Yet”


Field Research Sites (UNDER CONSTRUCTION)

Southern Oregon

Sea Ranch, California