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Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision Making Back Home

In “Slow Democracy,” community leader (and NCDD Sustaining Member) 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. (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012.)

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,” (www.slowdemocracy.org) 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.

Here’s what reviewers, scholars and activists have to say about “Slow Democracy”:

“Slow Democracy just may be the best thing happening in America today. Connecting in a meaningful way with our community and reclaiming our power as citizens is both powerful and possible. Read this book and consider how this movement can revitalize the communities you care about!”

 – Joan Blades, cofounder, MoveOn.org

“Great stories about democracy, showing us that democracy is not what we have but what we do. So if you’ve been “looking for hope in all the wrong places,” now you’ve found one that’s right! Enjoy.”

 – Frances Moore Lappé, author of EcoMind

“The ‘slow’ in Slow Democracy doesn’t mean decision making needs to take longer. It’s an acknowledgement that investing in inclusive, deliberative and empowered local decision-making is worth the time. Here are community stories that will fill you with hope for American politics.”

 – Sandy Heierbacher, director, National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation

“Slow democracy is the only kind that can take root, because it answers our deepest longings for connection, community, and voice. Clark and Teachout provide compelling examples and guiding principles for nurturing inclusive, participatory communities that work for everyone. Read this book, and then put it into action!”

 – Martha McCoy, executive director, Everyday Democracy

“Making the case for local control and community action while offering plenty of worthwhile advice, community leader Clark and democracy scholar Teachout tell how to get things done in the public sphere…. [R]eaders who instinctively resist suffocating regulations and Big Brother authorities will welcome the book’s insights…. Activists and organizers will appreciate the useful tips, and Clark and Teachout’s community strategies will resonate with both conservatives and progressives.”

 – Publishers Weekly

“How community deliberative processes can provide an alternative to divisive party politics and technocratic expertise…. Clark and Teachout complement their case studies with discussions of useful methodologies to bring people together for common purposes … A valuable tool for improving the way government operates at the local level.”

 – Kirkus Reviews

Resource Link:  www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/slow_democracy/

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