In this era of increasing citizen engagement that sees communities expressing a democratic desire to be powered by an active citizenry, some community developers are turning their attention to slow democracy—a concept coined and forwarded by Susan Clark and Woden Teachout in their book, Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision Making Back Home. Slow democracy is derived from the slow food movement that began in the 1980s in an effort to counter the rise of fast food and fast life operating under the drive for efficiency that displaced our food connections to agriculture, the environment, and our communities. Slow democracy proceeds from the same motivation to root out the harmful effects of efficiency that have come to monopolize democratic proceedings. Clark explains:
Slow democracy invites us to bring the advantages of slowing down, listening, understanding and connecting from our dinner tables to our communities. Just as slow food encourages us to understand the production of local food, slow democracy calls for firsthand participation in the local decisions that matter to us, encouraging us to govern ourselves in ways that are inclusive, deliberative and citizen powered. Reconnecting with the sources of decisions that affect us is at the heart of 21st-Century sustainable communities.
People are now moving away from fast food options in favor of local food, organic food, sustainable food, shared food—indeed, food that denotes an active commitment to a purpose—and likewise, citizens are resisting the unhealthy treatment of democracy by those in power in order to cultivate a citizenry encouraged, empowered, and engaged in the democratic decision making process.
Clark shares insights from her book in a four-part blog series that she began earlier this year. Her first post introduces this concept of slow democracy, and the successive pieces highlight the three key components of slow democracy: inclusion, deliberation, and empowerment (the fourth post has yet to be published).
Check out her blog series and share your thoughts for embracing slow democracy with us using our twitter handle @UIC-CivicSource and/or on our Facebook page.
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