Grass Roots Democracy in Vermont: The Birth of Burlington’s Neighborhood Assemblies

How grassroots Neighborhood Planning Assemblies revived democracy and popular participation in Vermont. Mayor Bernie Sanders’ role.

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Global Research, January 03, 2018

Featured image: Graphic: March 1981 City Council Campaign flyer

Burlington’s Neighborhood Planning Assemblies are back in the local spotlight, and likely to be a contentious issue in the 2018 race for mayor of Vermont’s largest city this March.

Last Fall, an “assembly of the assemblies” demanded a formal role in deciding the future of Memorial Auditorium, a major local venue for 90 years. Since then, Infinite Culcleasure, one of two Independents challenging Mayor Miro Weinberger, has announced that “more public investment should be made to strengthen existing neighborhood assemblies.” And Progressive-backed Independent Carina Driscollsays,

“We need to empower our Neighborhood Planning Assemblies so that they may again be actively involved with public engagement, city planning and prioritizing city resources.”

NPAs, as they have become known over the years, officially became part of Burlington city government in the summer of 1983. The…

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