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What is Grassroots Democracy?

Engagement, empowerment, and participation – that’s what grassroots democracy is all about. It is the belief that democracy works best to the extent that power is vested in citizens and communities. It is the conviction that citizen participation should happen more often than election day, and that politicians and public officials should not be the only ones involved in governance.

Grassroots democracy belongs to no single person or group because nobody can take credit for building it. It did not need framers or founders because it grew naturally from the citizens and the communities.

What does grassroots democracy look like? It can look like many things. It can show up to townhall meetings and community consultations for big government proposals. It can also show up in our living rooms and coffee shops. It will even happen online, on blogs, Twitter, and Facebook.

Grassroots democracy can happen when politicians reach out to their constituents through doorknocking and BBQs. It can also happen when citizens reach out to each other to discuss important issues in their communities. It can even happen when citizens reach out to politicians to let them know how their community really feels.

Grassroots democracy is all about dialogue and action. It is all about citizens, their community, and their institutions sharing the rewards and responsibilities of good government as four things happen:

  • Citizens and the community conduct a conversation to decide what needs to be done.
  • The conversation first of all widens out to include every interested person, then comes to a point — so that decisions can be made.
  • Citizens and communities agree about the decision-making process and make the decisions about what should be done. (Decisions can be made in town hall meetings and in representative assemblies and in board rooms, or anywhere else, as the community decides.)
  • Citizens and community participate in bringing their own decisions to life, and they accept responsibility for the outcomes.

Our company is committed to the values of grassroots democracy. We have outlined our principles here for those who want to learn more. We want to work with you – whether you are an energetic citizen, community organization, elected representative, public official, government council or enterprise board – and help you nurture these values in your community.