New England has a tradition of town meetings and citizen involvement that probably goes back to the first settlers on its rocky coast. So when I moved to a small town that still relies on town meetings, I was both charmed and appalled. "You mean we actually have to go to town meeting and vote about getting a new fire station instead of just letting 'the government' decide?" I asked. Well, yes, actually we did—and we do.
It's an incredibly adventurous experience, even for those of us who have been through it more than once. Will the town vote to build a new school? What about the library? Will sewers be added to streets X and Y? You and the people in the auditorium with you are the ones who will make those decisions or determine what the next step will be.
Such citizen-based meetings can also have a corrective element. And Mary Baker Eddy, a daughter of New England, knew it well. In her Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896 she wrote, "The vox populi, through the providence of God, promotes and impels all true reform; and, at the best time, will redress wrongs and rectify injustice." Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896, p. 80.