NewGrassRoots is cultivating a local culture of mass-participation in the legislative process by helping you master your civic self and acknowledge the humanity in others.
Your opinion, and all voters’ opinions, should be heard. The pandemic has intensified the multiple structural challenges that are converging on our public institutions, local economies and personal lives. The time has come to cultivate a more participatory democracy, where all voters have the same opportunity to speak their minds, to neighbors and legislators. NewGrassRoots creates digital spaces where shared values can emerge organically, from the grassroots up, through meaningful, measurable communication about active legislation.
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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 $5.4 Billion in federal relief dollars Vermont has received (as of 12-31-20). This comes while the legislature operates using a hybrid of remote and in-person environments, making it difficult for voters to understand which constituencies are most influencing legislators’ decisions. All Vermonters are impacted personally and professionally by decisions legislators make. The challenges our democracy faces right now calls for more transparency, more voter participation and more accountability.
Despite the significant challenges to making our political process more transparent and accountable to voters, we know Vermonters are up to the task. We stand on the shoulders of giants. 2021 marks 230 years since 1791 when Vermont ended its 14 year run as an independent nation by deciding to become the 14th state. The pandemic has ushered in another major transition period. Vermonters must now recommit to each other that we’re willing to do whatever it takes to solve our local, structural problems. Despite these historic challenges… NewGrassRoots is optimistic. And realistic. It won’t be easy, but this is possible!
Vermonters are fortunate to have a deep roster of non-profits and local organizations that have had boots on the ground serving the needs of our communities for many years. There are now at least four separate groups moving forward with some version of a “civic assembly” or town hall type of public input initiative, on a variety of issues. But voters are overwhelmed with busy lives. Needing to figure out how to access and use all the various websites and surveys that organizations distribute can be too much to manage for many voters, so they go unheard. We have an historic opportunity, and responsibility, to bring all voices into one equal system.
NewGrassRoots exists to make sure no voter is left out of the conversation, including those who are part of the ~60,000 Vermonters without access to broadband. We’re working on innovative ways to build community spaces that integrate the virtual and physical worlds by leveraging voice-based technologies that broaden access while maintaining human connection. We have confidence that, like Vermonters always have when faced with challenges, we will come out of this a stronger state than we were before.
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