democracy as dance

In Massachusetts most towns operate in a direct democracy system rather than a representative system of legislative councils and community boards. What this means is that anyone registered to vote in the town can participate in Town Meeting and make legislative decisions impacting the town.

This week I attended my first Town Meeting. 1200+ people were packed into the local high school auditorium with overflow in the cafeteria. To vote on various matters ranging from land-use & zoning issues, to financial decisions, and other things, we used our bodies. 

For easy votes when just a simple majority was required and there was a clear majority in the room, all we had to do was raise our hands. However, most of the votes that night either required an exact count OR were too close to call by eye-balling a show of hands. To get the exact count for those votes, we had to stand and be counted one-by-one. 

In embodied direct democracy practices, the whole town dances the questions together, the whole town lives with the answers.

Democracy as embodied practice 

is democracy as dance.

And there is something complex and beautiful about it.