In most of New England, town citizens become legislators for one day a year. They get together in school gyms and town halls and vote in person, and in public. This centuries long practice of towns doing the slow and hard work of disagreeing and arguing and compromising on how to govern themselves—this has a profound impact on a place, and what it means to be from a place.
Sometimes it’s contentious. Sometimes it’s boring. But it’s always the most interesting and authentic and civilized social event of the year. Always.
This is a show about where I live, which is maybe not where you live, but we’re all living through a time of awful division. There aren’t a lot of opportunities anymore to disagree civilly, in public, or to make decisions with people who are hugely different from ourselves. And maybe there should be. So I made this show to inspire us all. And you’ll hear a lot about trash removal.
Featured photos by Terry J. Allen
Endless thanks to Tobin Anderson, Kelly Green and Amelia Meath for their help on this show.
Susan Clark is the co-author of Slow Democracy, a wonderful book on self governance and rediscovering community.
Thanks to Brattleboro Community TV and Mount Mansfield Community TV for their recordings of town meeting and all the brave people who get up and talk in those meetings
Moderators in this show are: Stephen Magill, Moretown. Paul Doton, Barnard. Gus Seelig, Calais. John McLaughry, Kirby. Bobby Starr, Troy. Susan Clark, Middlesex. Kelly Green, Randolph
Click on images below for better view. Most of the good pictures here are by Terry J. Allen of East Montpelier.Calais Town MeetingEast Montpelier Town Meeting, Photo: Terry J. AllenCalais Town HallPhoto by Scott BassageCalais Town MeetingThe guys who always stand at the back and never take their coats off.Calais Town MeetingDessertsEast Montpelier Town Meeting, Photo: Terry J. AllenKelly GreenKelly Green, Randolph Town ModeratorEast Montpelier Town MeetingPhoto: Terry J. AllenEast Montpelier Town Meeting, Photo: Terry J. AllenEast Montpelier Town Meeting, Photo: Terry J. AllenEast Montpelier Town Meeting, Photo: Terry J. AllenEast Montpelier Town Meeting, Photo: Terry J. AllenEast Montpelier Town Meeting, Photo: Terry J. AllenEast Montpelier Town Meeting, Photo: Terry J. AllenCalaisScott Bassage, Calais Town MeetingTown Meeting East Montpelier, Photo: Terry J. AllenJohn McLaughry, Kirby Town ModeratorKirby Town MeetingCalais Town MeetingPhoto by Scott BassageSusan Clark, Middlesex Town ModeratorMiddlesex Town Meeting, Photo Mark Bushnell