NewGrassRoots envisions a non-partisan, transparent, trustworthy process of voter participation in the legislative process, by which “representative democracy” can organically emerge, through legislators who are personally dedicated to understanding and representing the will of their constituents.

Since 2014 we’ve been on a mission to cultivate a local culture of mass-participation in the legislative process. Like a game of toss and catch, it takes effort on both sides. If legislators don’t receive trustworthy data on what popular opinion is within their district, they literally cannot “represent” the will of their constituents. And if legislators do have opinion data and don’t reflect those opinions in their votes, then they’ve dropped the ball.

If we don’t actively build the future we want, then by default, we’ll simply continue to get whatever those with political power decide is best for us. That’s not democracy!

The pandemic accelerated a convergence of institutional and ecological failures that had been brewing for decades. It’s not shocking to any student of history that social unrest continues to rise as societal systems fail before our very eyes. Trust for public institutions is historically low. Many people don’t even trust their neighbors anymore!

The time is now to snap out of this dystopian illusion, and begin to actively cultivate a more participatory democracy at a local level. In a “representative democracy,” everyone’s voice deserves to be heard. NewGrassRoots focuses on designing the mechanics of “participation” and defining the metrics of “representation” within the context of a single legislative district. What, specifically, is a legislator’s responsibility?

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Democracy requires transparency, participation and accountability of those in office. Also, voters are responsible for staying educated and engaged on the issues. If any state can cultivate a thriving, trustworthy democracy at a local level, in spite of these historically volatile times, it’s Vermont! Our civic soil is deep and resilient in these Green Mountains, and we’re up to the challenge! 

In 1791, Vermont ended its fourteen-year run as its own independent nation, and decided to become the 14th state. The Covid-19 pandemic has ushered in another major transition period. If a legitimate and representative “democracy” can manifest anywhere, it’s Vermont. That’s because of Vermonters.

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. Many of these initiatives deploy some form of “civic assembly,” or town hall public-input process, be it a survey or a pancake breakfast, to better understand the needs and priorities of voters across the state. But no one out there is accepting the responsibility to pull it all together and measure our democracy!

That’s where NewGrassRoots comes in. Like the mycelium in healthy soil, we connect the nodes and facilitate the exchange of valuable nutrients through communication and cooperation. You are a part of local democracy!!!

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