It’s Town Meeting Week, which means that civic energy is buzzing throughout Vermont. In communities all across the state, Vermonters are coming together to cast their votes, discuss important issues with neighbors and meet with local legislators as part of this longstanding democratic tradition.
Vermont has a long history of vibrant civic culture and rigorous discourse on important issues. But the mess in Washington D.C. puts the stakes higher than ever, so we must fight back by ensuring that Vermont’s leaders and democratic processes are as accessible, participatory and transparent as possible.
That’s why we’re excited about launching the Vermont Tools for Democracy Project, a new VPIRG project focused on maximizing engagement and communications between elected representatives and their constituents.
The idea is pretty simple.
We recognize that in the 21st century, there are endless opportunities for Vermonters to engage with their elected officials — from Facebook to Front Porch Forum, Vermonters are plugged-in and connecting like never before.
The opportunities for rich dialogue on important civic issues are new and exciting, and we want to help Vermonters and our elected representatives make the most of the opportunities at hand.
That means putting together resources so Vermonters know how they can connect with their representatives (Do they have a Facebook page? Do they host in-person get togethers in the district? Do they post to Front Porch Forum?). It may also mean encouraging elected officials to make themselves more accessible and use these tools. Finally, it means providing legislators and constituents alike with help using these tools if they want it. That’s our vision for the Vermont Tools for Democracy Project.
But first, we must understand how communities and legislators are already engaging — and that’s where you come in!
We’ve put together a five minute survey to help inform the early stages of this project and determine how accessible and engaged your legislators already are. Can you please take this survey and let us know what “tools of democracy” your representatives are already using?
Lastly, if you’re particularly interested in this long-term project and have thoughtful feedback to share about what democracy and civic engagement looks like in your community, please email Christina Fornaciari, VPIRG Communications and Engagement Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.