NewGrassRoots’ mission is to cultivate a local culture of mass-participation in the legislative process. Our vision is of a “representative democracy” that emerges organically from the grassroots up, from a civic culture of mass participation.
NewGrassRoots is redesigning the legislative engagement experience for the 2023 session. The pandemic has accelerated a convergence of institutional and ecological failures while social unrest continues to rise. Trust for public institutions is dangerously low. Many people don’t even trust their neighbors and fellow community members, because of political divides on issues.
The time is now to cultivate a more participatory democracy that builds trust between voters who disagree, and more importantly, between voters and their legislators. In a representative democracy everyone’s voice deserves to be heard. The lens we see solutions through focuses on the mechanics of participation and representation at the state legislative district level.
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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 Billions in windfall federal Covid-19 funding received by Vermont, not to mention housing, state employee pensions, and on and on. With the legislature operating from a hybrid system that combines remote and in-person environments, it’s important that all demographics of voters maintain access to effective means of following and influencing the law-making process.
Democracy requires transparency, participation and accountability of those in office and of voters whose responsibility it is to stay engaged on the issues. If any state can maintain a thriving, trustworthy democracy throughout these historically volatile times, it’s Vermont! Our civic soil is deep and resilient.
2022 marks 231 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 still possible! If it can happen anywhere, it’s Vermont. But whether it will happen or not is up to the people.
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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