Swan Song for a Hard Year

The highs and lows of democratic practice in 2021 began with the definitive and historic election of Biden-Harris followed by the January 6 insurrection and the inauguration it couldn’t stop.
(Photo Credit: DoD photo by U.S. Army Private 1st Class Laura Hardin)
  • Thirty-two rapid response interventions including the successful push for the bipartisan expulsion of Rep. Mike Nearman for aiding far-right extremists in their insurrection rehearsal attack on the Oregon Capitol Building in December 2020; and supporting leaders countering anti-democracy threats in eight municipalities across three states.
  • Galvanizing elected, community and business leaders through values-based sign-on campaigns including Defend Democracy, Not Sedition, United Against Hate and Political Violence on May Day, Oregonians Together for Inclusive Democracy, and Coloradans for Voter Freedom.
  • Creating new tools and sustaining 10 innovative cohorts and networks such as a national table to counter policy expressions of white nationalism and anti-immigrant bigotry inside the Beltway, a new Idaho Inclusive Democracy Table, and our ongoing engagement with educators, artists, and anti-hate, anti-extremism and racial equity leaders.
  • Lifting up the artists who help us re-imagine the common ground from which inclusive democracy can grow, through support for a range of community projects like Music City Bands Together and continued work with the 35 artists in our Inclusive Democracy Culture Lab and Common Ground Masterclass, four of whom earned For Your Consideration Grammy nods this year. (Spend some time in our AMP Artists Gallery!)
  • Joining with more than 330 partners — international, national, regional, statewide, and local organizations, elected and community leaders — and leading or participating in three national multi-disciplinary tables.
  • Delivering nearly 200 educational presentations reaching nearly 90,000 participants, including our biennial AMP: Activists Mobilizing for Power, which featured 18 sessions led by 62 presenters.
  • Shaping the narrative through hundreds of press hits (dozens syndicated nationally), a press briefing, and regular Medium essays.
  • Highlighting the emerging movement to preserve democracy in the U.S. through accepting the first Civil Courage Prize ever awarded to an American.
  • A series of convenings guided by South Africans whose distinguishing approach to building democracy helped usher in one Africa’s smoothest transitions, despite a surge in violence in the years leading up to the formal end of apartheid.
  • No on 9 Remembered: a historical narrative project to lift up the lessons of Oregon’s 1992 ballot measure campaign for today’s fight for inclusive democracy.
  • A digital toolkit for artists produced by our Inclusive Democracy Culture Lab along with regional artists cohorts and a new national cohort for artists of color.
  • New podcasts and webinar series, along with educational and organizing tools for educators, libraries, parents and caregivers, and community members.
  • Continuing our movement building, leadership development, culture shift, and defending democracy work through cohorts and networks, rapid response campaigns, and an exciting array of Senior Fellows’ initiatives and partnerships with other organizations.



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Western States Center

Western States Center


Based in the Pacific Northwest and Mountain States, Western States Center works nationwide to strengthen inclusive democracy.