Ian Schlakman's personal story is the story of the changing economy and our changing country.
Ian grew up on Long Island, NY, in a community built after World War 2 for soldiers returning from the war. The wartime economy built that community and many others across the United States. Ian graduated high school and began studies in political science in the New York public university system. Ian realized that learning to participate in traditional political systems could not help the children and grandchildren of Baby Boomers build a responsible and equitable economy. Ian left school and embarked on an entrepreneurial and organizational career.
Ian worked with technology visionaries before starting his own technology firm. He organized his business as a worker-owned cooperative and focused on providing technology access and support to inner-city students. In this venture he learned about the rapidly growing, capital-rich technology field and the importance of building new economic models to avoid centralizing wealth.
While growing his company, Ian saw the increasing demands for democratization in the workplace and in markets. He was a local organizer in the Occupy movement. As that movement developed, Ian saw the need to create permanent democratized economic systems. He helped organize alternative capital models such as a time bank and local alternative currencies that let people participate in local economies regardless of their ability to amass capital.
After laying the groundwork for democratized economic systems, Ian began working on community wealth building projects. He led a series of local workshops on the principles of community wealth building and served on the boards of local organizations devoted to strengthening local business, green business, and minority-owned business. Ian learned that the strength of the American economy lies in tens of thousands of small businesses owned and operated by millions of workers, not in the wealth hoarded by CEOs.
While working on community wealth building, Ian saw the accumulation of wealth in the hands of the top 1% of wealthiest Americans and began working on national wealth building projects. He helped found and operate Basic Income Action, a national non-profit organization devoted to working for a universal basic income guarantee for all Americans. In his ongoing activist work Ian emphasizes building a variety of democratically owned and operated national systems, including a basic income, public housing, municipalized utilities, and universal healthcare.
Ian Schlakman at Douglas Homes Public Housing in Baltimore during his 2016 run for Baltimore City Council with the Green Party