Vermont Town Meeting is an annual event that I enjoy photographing and participating in. While each town will see the same “usual suspects” in attendance, and a few new faces, you never know what hot topics, or controversies may arise.
Town Meeting… Never heard of it? Then you probably don’t live in Vermont. Every year, the first week of March, towns across the state of Vermont hold individual meetings where local officials are elected, budgets are decided, and appropriations are doled out.
Most importantly, Town Meeting is an opportunity for individuals to have their voice heard. This is the one chance a year where you can get up in front of your neighbors, and express to them why you agree, or often disagree with the planned future of the community.
Unfortunately across the state, attendance at town meetings has declined over the years. Many towns have tried creative ways to boost attendance. Traditionally meetings were scheduled for the first Tuesday of March. Floor meetings are more frequently occurring on the Saturday before. Some towns prefer to split the public forum and Australian ballot days.
Done properly, Town Meeting is democracy at it’s finest. As we learned in Manchester, Vermont this year, margins on topics can be very small. If you don’t participate in the process, you’re letting others make choices for you.