City Solutions Series

The commitment to liberal democracy is a core value of the transatlantic community. And while democracy has always faced external threats, a second front has emerged in recent years, challenging its fundamental principles from within. On every continent, local and national governments are experimenting with new methods of tackling the threats to public confidence and democratic governance by addressing a range of common challenges. The drivers of democratic backsliding are now clear, so this project focuses on uncovering solutions, then amplifies these best practices for a transatlantic audience searching for innovative approaches to reverse democratic decline.

It is often said that local government serves as a laboratory of democracy where new ideas and civic innovation transform the public space. It is also local government and civic leaders who offer the stoutest resistance when democracy is under attack. The objective of this joint project created by the Bertelsmann Foundation and the cities program at the German Marshall Fund is to surface those local innovations in democratic practice, and elevate them to national and international stakeholders who are constantly in search of positive evolutions to strengthen institutions, to make democracy more inclusive, and to stem the tide of authoritarianism. The hybrid approach to our research will make our deliverables accessible to policymakers and the public, with the goal of reshaping democracy around the globe by educating stakeholders at both ends of the influence spectrum.


Oklahoma City, United States |

Oklahoma City, United States

Today, we almost take our polarization for granted. Red States and Blue States. Facts and Alternative Facts. Electors and Alternate Electors. But what happens when communication truly breaks down? Nearly three decades after the Oklahoma City bombing, this film is built around six conversations with folks impacted by the blast. One salient theme emerges: If we want to keep this from happening again, we need to keep talking. This film was produced in collaboration with GMF Cities.

Athens, Greece |

Athens, Greece

From laundry for the homeless, to drug recovery programs, to new employment opportunities, this documentary tracks NGOs in Athens that organized to help their neighbors survive, ultimately teaching the government a few lessons along the way.