Every year in the spring, small towns throughout New England host their annual town meeting. Town meetings take place in high school gyms or town halls, and anyone can come. In fact, in Vermont, Town Meeting Day is a public holiday. Everyone gets the day off work to make sure they have the chance to participate. It’s a moment when everyone who lives there can come together to talk out the issues facing the town and decide how they want to spend their money.
Radio producer Erica Heilman lives in Vermont and is the host of a jewel of a podcast called Rumble Strip. It’s ostensibly all about life in Vermont, but it may just also be about life in general.
Erica been going to town meetings since she was a kid. It’s not always easy. There are lots of disagreements, but people have to learn to disagree civilly because in a small town you have to rely on one another. A lot of these small towns depend on volunteers to function, and town meeting is the place where those roles get decided. For better or worse, they’re a key part of life in many New England towns.