Democracy at a Crossroads in the Industrial Heartlands – Workshop at Innocracy 2023

What are solutions for a better, greener and more democratic life in the “places that don’t matter”?

For a generation, people living in the traditional industrial heartlands all over the world have been buffeted by a technological and services revolution, the decline of manufacturing, and the rise of a borderless global digital economy. The result is deepening inequality, ongoing political support for right-wing populists and a hollowing out of the middle class. From the rise of Trumpism to the successes of the AfD, industrial heartlands lie at the crossroads to the future of our democracies. This is why we we’ve hosted an interactive workshop to discuss best practices, political strategies and policy solutions to foster democratic participation, trust and tangible future perspectives for those living in the places that matter. 

The workshop entailed an inspiring exchange with our 12 project fellows of the “Transatlantic Dialogue on the Industrial Heartlands” project as well as a delegation of seven decision-makers from the US Midwest. Join us for fresh, transatlantic takes on how to tackle the challenges of a just transformation while rebuilding trust in democracy. 

To combat this decline, Das Progressive Zentrum and its partner organizations from the United States have launched the three-year project “Transatlantic Dialogue on the Industrial Heartlands” with the goal of creating new opportunities in old industrial heartlands of both countries by forging a transatlantic dialogue, exchanging best practices, and developing political strategies  and policy solutions for a better, greener, and more democratic future in the “places that don’t matter.” As part of this project, 12 project fellows from the U.S. and Germany are working on the two thematic blocks “Perspectives for the Future, Respect and Participation” and “Climate, Work and Innovation” to demonstrate through their input how the living standards and opportunities for people in the industrial heartlands can be increased while working towards rebuilding trust in democracy in both countries.

As part of the workshop “Democracy at the crossroads in the industrial heartlands – transatlantic perspectives for the future of the places that matter”, we introduced the Industrial Heartlands project and the 12 project fellows presented their impulse papers as a starting point for their project work. Afterwards, participants exchanged ideas with you in four groups and discuss the topics of “Participation and Democracy”, the “Industrial Transformation”, “Bidenomics and the Green Deal – Local Implementation” and “Countering the Far Right”.