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Working for the Common Good 

About Us

​We are young and old, friends, neighbors, individuals, groups and communities in Mendocino that see challenges to the well being of ourselves and our communities. We come together to improve our community because we value peace, justice, equity and environmental sustainability for our families, community, county, state, nation and planet. Through education, reasoned analysis and principles of inclusion & non-violence we work collectively and collaboratively to prosper. The GrassRoots Institute is under the non profit umbrella of the Alliance For Democracy- a registered 501(c)3 Non Profit. 

Read on below to get to know us better. 

From The Bottom Up: GRI Vision 2023 

Read here

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What We Do 

GRI is a tool for people interested in contributing to the common good. The Institute researches and educates the public about systemic political, environmental and economic problems confronting our communities. We act as a catalyst for developing beneficial progressive solutions, and advocate for changes in our economy, society and governance.

We work to:
1. Strengthen bottom up democratic civic institutions sensitive to local communities. Increase respect for diversity and civic tolerance in order to strengthen the social fabric of our communities.
2. Promote representative democracy in government institutions.     Encourage   efficient, effective, and responsive governance that is transparent and accountable to the public.
3. Create and support economic institutions that serve and are accountable to our communities. Encourage the transition to an environmentally sustainable green economy that is socially and economically fair and just.
4. Mitigate and remediate environmental damage and insure a healthy environment now and in the future.
5. Address bigotry, prejudice, racism and exploitation in all forms, taking action to correct injustices and promote equity, tolerance & harmony in our community.

Hear Core Group Member Carrie Durkee speaking on KZYX Ecology hour about her path to GRI, working with plants, and life on the coast. 

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Listen to Peter McNamee and Dan Gjerde discuss the GRI, building community engagement and promoting solutions for the common good.

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Collaboration at our Core

Collaboration is a core value of Grassroots Institute. Since 2015, GRI has utilized different modalities to pursue solutions for the common good. Going forward it is important to keep all of these practices in our toolkit and develop new modalities that fit the needs of the moment. At our core, one value stands out. GRI is committed to collaborative community driven social action rooted in the fabric of the communities where we live. 

Where You Will Find Us


Working within government structure to educate, encourage, and endorse decisions for the common good.

You will find us learning and speaking in government offices and Town Halls- such as this Town Hall meeting with Senator Mike McGuire.

Standing strong next to partners whose goals align with ours.  

You will find us joining other organizations engaged in educational and local campaigns- GRI members pictured here protesting for Jackson Forest. 


We are the friendly smiles standing behind the ironing board in front of the post office.

Stop for a few minutes. The social problems we address affect everyone in Mendocino County. Maybe you just want to understand something a little better; maybe something has been troubling you and you'd like answers; maybe it's just a beautiful day and you'd like to enjoy talking to a neighbor for a few minutes.  issues will be different depending on what the current local efforts might determine. We are there to share information that we believe you'd appreciate knowing about as we all aspire for a just, economically strong, and environmentally healthy community and planet.

You'll see neighbors on the land looking like they are having a good time working together.

You will find us on the land putting, in this case, our muscles to where our mouth is. This is HEART (Headlands Eradication and Restoration Team) , the Working Group with a goal of restoring the Mendocino Headlands to a native plant environment. In this case, they are working with California State Parks. We are all learning how to restore the earth that our inattention or ignorance allowed to become less that healthy. That ice plant is non-native and  invasive. Replacing it with native flora will make space for native fauna to return.


We are your neighbors and we'd like to know you better.

Check out GRI Work Groups to see if there is a group you would like to join. We also are always eager to welcome concerned citizens to our efforts. Check out our Volunteer page. We need a variety of skills, experience, and knowledge to reach our goals and objectives. We'd love to get to know you.

Our Core Team 

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Peter McNamee, Carrie Durkee, and Jim Tarbell serve as the "core management" team of GRI 

The GRI Gore Group is the administrative arm of the GrassRoots Institute. It facilitates operations of GRI work groups; supports and oversees GRI staff and the back office tasks of the Grassroots Institute; and coordinates all the online, fundraising and communications efforts of GRI.

Organizing for the Common Good

The need for community action is growing. People and communities are confronted with a number of challenges. There is a lack of affordable housing. Water availability for drinking, commerce, and agriculture is inadequate in many communities. Climate change, poor management, and misuse threaten forests. Powerful corporations and institutions misuse land, air, and water resources with devastating impacts on our communities and nature. Many people and communities are/or have been the victims of bigotry, prejudice, and racism. There are too few employment and economic opportunities to ensure that every person that wants to work has access to a career that provides a secure living income, healthcare, and a decent pension upon retirement age.

Catalyst for community action. 
To address these challenges, GRI brings concerned individuals together— mostly as volunteers willing to put their collective minds on the problem and their shoulders to the wheel to find solutions to our challenges. They are backed up by the staff, governing boards and our generous donors. Like all grassroots groups, GRI struggles for resources, recognition, and people. See the infrastructure chart below and let us know where you would like to fit in.

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Our Working Groups:

GrassRoots Institute (GRI grew out of the independent work of the Mendocino Chapter of the Alliance for Democracy (MCAfD), an IRS recognized unincorporated association. That work began in 1998 with the radio program Corporations and Democracy and included a whole series of monthly public educational forums on grassroots organizing to end the harms caused by corporate power.

Following the successful 2014 effort by Move to Amend and MCAfD to pass a county-wide referendum calling for an end to corporate personhood, a series of corporate study groups led to the development of classes on GrassRoots Solutions to
Corporate Power. In 2015, MCAfD created the Grassroots Institute (GRI) to present those courses at Mendocino College campuses in Fort Bragg, Ukiah and Willits. They led to action-oriented workshops around building an Economy for the Common Good, and engaging local residents in building a stronger democracy for a sustainable future.


During the pandemic, GRI developed a coalition of work groups to take on multiple, critical, local problems and grow into the institution you see today. GRI operates under the 501(c) 3 umbrella of the national Alliance for Democracy and is embraced as a project of the national Alliance for Democracy as a model for communities around the world to implement grassroots solutions to corporate power.

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