NewGrassRoots is on a mission to cultivate a local culture of mass-participation in the legislative process, so “representative democracy” can emerge organically from the grassroots up.

NewGrassRoots designs participation systems that ensure no voter is left out of the conversation. This includes the roughly 60,000 Vermonters without access to dependable high-speed internet. We’re redesigning the voter-engagement experience for the 2022 session. We have full confidence that as Vermonters come together to work through tough issues, in the end we will come out of this pandemic with a stronger democracy than before.

But the pandemic has accelerated a convergence of structural failures. Trust for public institutions, from news agencies to politicians, is dangerously low. The time is now to cultivate a more participatory democracy that builds trust between voters and legislators. In a representative democracy everyone’s voice deserves to be heard. We exist to make that possible. There’s a lot on the line right now and legislators need to hear from everyone. 

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Having a voice with legislators has never been more important. Decisions with long term impacts are being made, like how to spend the $7.7 Billion in federal Covid-19 funding received by Vermont (as of 9-16-21). With the legislature continuing to operate from a hybrid system that combines remote and in-person environments, it’s important that voters maintain access to the law-making process. Democracy requires transparency, participation and accountability of both those in office and of voters whose responsibility it is to stay informed on the issues. If any state can maintain a thriving, trustworthy democracy throughout these historically volatile times, it’s Vermont! 

Civic engagement is and always has been a deeply embedded aspect of “democracy culture” in The Green Mountain State. 2021 marks 230 years since 1791, when Vermont ended its 14 year run as an independent nation and decided to become the 14th state. The Covid-19 pandemic has ushered in another major transition period, and it won’t be easy to maintain democracy in today’s world, but it is possible! If it can happen anywhere, it’s Vermont.

Vermonters are fortunate to already have a deep roster of non-profits and local organizations with boots on the ground serving the needs of communities across the state. There are now numerous initiatives promoting some level of “civic assembly,” or town hall public-input process, to better understand the needs and priorities of voters across the state. Vermont has an historic opportunity to bring all voices into the legislative process, to create policies that reflect the will of voters. It won’t be easy, but it is possible, and it’s our mission to make it happen!

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