Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
0Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Slow Democracy: Preface

Slow Democracy: Preface

Ratings: (0)|Views: 819|Likes:
Just as slow food encourages chefs and eaters to become more intimately involved with the production of local food, and slow money helps us become more engaged with our local economy, slow democracy encourages us to govern ourselves locally with processes that are inclusive, deliberative, and citizen powered. In Slow Democracy, community leader Susan Clark and democracy scholar Woden Teachout document the range of ways that citizens around the country are breathing new life into participatory democracy in their communities.
Just as slow food encourages chefs and eaters to become more intimately involved with the production of local food, and slow money helps us become more engaged with our local economy, slow democracy encourages us to govern ourselves locally with processes that are inclusive, deliberative, and citizen powered. In Slow Democracy, community leader Susan Clark and democracy scholar Woden Teachout document the range of ways that citizens around the country are breathing new life into participatory democracy in their communities.

More info:

Published by: Chelsea Green Publishing on Sep 17, 2012
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
See more
See less

01/28/2015

 
Rediscovering community, bringing decision making back home
democracy
slow
Foreword by
 
FRANK M. BRYAN
SUSAN CLARK
 
and
 
WODEN TEACHOUT
 
preface
In
Slow Democracy
, we’ve drawn on the values of slow food as an inspiration for community decision making. Our book is a collaboration of two authors who have, in different but complementary ways, been working to keep com-munity interests alive in government. Here are our stories.
Susan’s Story
 Appropriately enough, the idea for this book began in the garden. Mind you, if gardening were only about producing food, I would have thrown in the trowel long ago; if I got paid minimum wage for all of the inept hours I spend in the garden, my zucchinis would cost twenty-five bucks each. Still, I am out there with my hands in the dirt every chance I get. As a person who deals with community conflicts and political decision making on a regular  basis, I find there is no better place to relax than in the sunshine with a good audiobook playing in my earbuds. I was thinning carrots one weekend while listening to Michael Pollan’s
The Omnivore’s Dilemma
 when it hit me: the work I had been doing in community development was perfectly aligned with the efforts of the Slow Food move-ment. The metaphor was inspiring, and it brought a wave of fresh, exciting ideas to mind. Slow Democracy!I ran inside and tested the idea out on my husband. He seemed impressed at first, saying enthusiastically, “Slow Democracy? Great idea! Hey, I bet you could even get the domain name—SlowDemocracy.org!”Then I noticed the twinkle in his eye as he added, in deadpan, “While  you’re at it, why not see if you can get PainfulDentistry.org too?”Okay, he had a point. Who wants their democracy to be slow?Still, despite my husband’s teasing (believe me, I’m used to it), I remained convinced that “slow democracy” was a concept that should be part of the public conversation. And I even found a co-conspirator. I don’t recall where Woden and I first crossed paths. I’d like to say it was when I was teaching at Woodbury College in Montpelier, Vermont, where she was a department head, and we had an insightful exchange on some key policy issue. However, it’s probably more likely we met at the local
 
xiv | slow democracy
elementary school that our kids attend. My rear end was probably sticking out of the supply closet as I tried to find the squirrel puppets for the nature lesson I’d volunteered for in my son’s classroom. And if it was a school encounter, that would have been fitting. Because at Rumney Memorial School (named after the farmer whose land the school was built on), there’s a strong sense of volunteerism. When parents’ fannies aren’t sticking out of closets, their smiling faces are being welcomed into the classrooms by friendly teachers. I’ve pitched in on science studies, led songs in the kindergarten, helped backstage in theater productions, and frosted more bake-sale cupcakes than I really like to think about. It’s not only the teachers who welcome participation. Where I really remember working with Woden was at Rumney school board meetings— and neither of us was actually
on
 the school board. Woden and I were among the parents who attended these meetings to speak out in favor of our town retaining our school and our school board.The alarm bell had rung loudly for both Woden and me when Vermont lawmakers passed a law encouraging school consolidation. The law offered incentives for school districts to merge—incentives that, we knew, would ultimately cause communities to reduce the number of school boards and probably close small schools. I know that most of the legislators who voted for this bill just hoped it would save money. But they also, either mindfully or out of neglect, were diminishing local democratic infrastructure and opportunities for parents and neighbors to engage in decisions about their children’s education.Many people assume that given Vermont’s town meeting tradition—com- bined with the fact that Vermont is small and almost insanely liberal—surely we make all of our decisions locally, by consensus, perhaps over crunchy-topped apple crumble at potluck suppers. But you’d be surprised. We have at least our share, maybe more than our share, of top-down, state-centralizing policies on the books, and more are coming. While citizens have been happily focused at our annual town meetings on making decisions about potholes and road salt, power on larger issues has slowly but surely been siphoned away from towns. Sometimes it goes to the state level, sometimes to the federal level, but either way, with it goes the much of the inspiration for community involvement.The law encouraging school consolidation was just one more step in an erosion of local democratic infrastructure that I was already painfully

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->