Strengthening 21st Century Democracy

Poster for Strengthening 21st Century Democracy Sessions to be Hosted in Peacham, VT

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Workshop to be Hosted in Peacham

The Peacham Library will host a pair of workshops titled “Strengthening 21st Century Democracy in Peacham”, led by award-winning author, educator, and facilitator Susan Clark. These sessions will explore democratic engagement and processes in Peacham, specifically with a focus on town meeting. The sessions will take place on Tuesday, April 11 and Tuesday, May 2 from 6:30pm – 8:30pm in the Peacham Library Community Room (656 Bailey Hazen Road, Peacham, Vermont 05862), and are free of charge. The session in April will include a presentation of data and trends on democratic engagement at the state and local level, followed by a facilitated “polarities navigation”, which will lead to a set of shared community values. In May, participants will work towards identifying and prioritizing action steps based on values identified at the April session. Participation at both sessions is encouraged, and ALL residents of Peacham are specifically invited to attend, whether they regularly participate at town meeting or not. Refreshments will be provided.

During the past few years of the pandemic, the town mailed ballots to all registered voters and saw a big jump in participation, as has been reported in neighboring communities as well. This brought forward questions about how best to engage and empower a wider group of community members than perhaps can traditionally attend the town’s in-person town meetings each year. A group of community members have been meeting with Susan Clark over the past few months to examine opportunities to identify shared community values to improve democratic engagement in Peacham.

Susan Clark is the author of “Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision Making Back Home”, and coauthor of “All Those in Favor: Rediscovering the Secrets of Town Meeting and Community”. She consults with communities across the northeast about how to build inclusive, deliberative, and empowered community engagement. Her democratic activism has earned her the 2010 Vermont Secretary of State’s Enduring Democracy Award. She also serves as Town Moderator of Middlesex, Vermont. Clark is currently piloting community engagement sessions like the one to take place in Peacham in collaboration with the UVM Center for Research on Vermont.

For more information:
Susan Smolinsky, Library Director

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Peacham Library is a 212-year-old incorporated library. It is a central part of Peacham’s intellectual, educational, leisure, and cultural life. The Library strives to represent all of the community’s interests in its collection; promotes use of the Library by all residents; and meets the needs of all residents for information and other library resources, either from its own collection or through the networks to which it belongs.