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Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community and Bringing Decision Making Back Home

Chat with Susan Clark and Woden Teachout about their new book, hosted by Riki Ott.

Reinvigorate your community by reconnecting with democracy.

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.

Large institutions and centralized governments, with top-down, expert-driven thinking, are no longer society’s drivers. In fact, they are often responsible for tearing communities apart. New decision-making techniques now pair with cutting-edge communication tools to make local communities—and the citizens who live there—uniquely suited to meet today’s challenges.

In Slow Democracy, readers learn the stories of residents who gain community control of water systems and local forests, parents who find creative solutions to divisive and seemingly irreconcilable school-redistricting issues, and a host of other citizen-led actions that are reinvigorating local democracy and decision making.

Along with real-life examples of slow democracy in action, Clark and Teachout also provide twenty simple guidelines for communities, and citizens, to use as ways to reinvigorate their local democratic process.

With a future more and more focused on local food, local energy, and local economies, Slow Democracy offers strategies to improve our skills at local governance and to reinvigorate community democracy.

Susan Clark is a writer and facilitator focusing on community sustainability and citizen participation. She is an award-winning radio commentator and former talk show co-host. Her democratic activism has earned her broad recognition, including the 2010 Vermont Secretary of State’s Enduring Democracy Award. Clark is the coauthor of All Those In Favor: Rediscovering the Secrets of Town Meeting and Community (RavenMark, 2005). Her work strengthening communities has included directing a community activists’ network and facilitating town visioning forums. She served as communication and education director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council and Coordinator of the University of …

Woden Teachout. An historian and cultural critic interested in the development of American patriotic culture, Woden Teachout has taught at a number of colleges and universities, including Harvard, as well as, Middlebury College and Goddard College. Her most recent book, Capture the Flag: A Political History of American Patriotism (Basic Books, 2009), was widely reviewed, including by The Wall Street Journal. Teachout holds a PhD in the history of American civilization from Harvard University. She lives in Middlesex, Vermont, and is a professor of graduate studies at Union Institute and University. (Chelsea Green)