SYSTEMS VIEW PLENARY: “IS THIS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE?”

Is our democracy working well for us? Do we know how our system of governance works? What about scale? When looking at local governance, what is the appropriate scale for enacting policies and solving problems? Is America really a democracy? Are Town Meetings the best we can do? When looking toward localizing economic and political systems, how can we represent the collective values and diversity of a location? These are among the critical questions this panel will address.

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Frances Moore Lappé is an author, speaker, thinker, and activist. She and her daughter, Anna, are the founders of the Small Planet Institute, committed to helping people find ways of interrupting and reversing the current of scarcity and powerlessness around the world. "Appreciating that we humans take our cues from each other, the Small Planet Institute emphasizes the spread of stories of hope in action." Lappé's 1971 book, Diet for A Small Planet, was a touchstone in the food movement timeline, helping to expose the wasteful and environmentally harmful practices of agribusiness, particularly in meat production.

Lappé is also the author of 17 other books about world hunger, living democracy, and the environment. Some of her works include: Democracy’s EdgeGetting a GripEcoMind, and World Hunger: 10 Myths. With a focus on the roots of the U.S. democracy crisis and how Americans are creatively responding to the challenge, her current work includes the online Field Guide to the Democracy Movement and the forthcoming book Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want, coauthored with Adam Eichen.

Susan Clark is a writer and facilitator focusing on community sustainability and citizen participation, and an award-winning radio commentator and former talk-show co-host. She is coauthor of the acclaimed book, Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision Making Back Home, and All Those In Favor: Rediscovering the Secrets of Town Meeting and Community. Clark served as communication director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council and has taught community development at the college level for ten years. Clark’s democratic activism has earned her broad recognition, including the 2010 Vermont Secretary of State's "Enduring Democracy Award". She serves as Town Moderator of Middlesex Vermont.