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2020 was a year of unprecedented change for our democracy, both locally and nationally. Common Cause Rhode Island explored some of those changes, and where we should go starting in 2021, in our Blueprint for a Great Democracy series. 

Reimagining Public Meetings

The first event Reimagining Public Meetings looked at how we can put the public first in public meetings. Speakers included Stephanie Gonzalez, Chair of the Central Falls School Committee, Steph Machado, reporter for WPRI TV, David Petrarca, attorney and town solicitor, Brent Runyon, Executive Director of the Providence Preservation Society, and Ramona Santos, Executive Director of Parents Leading for Educational Equity. After the event we were pleased to have three community members tape responses reflecting on the topic and the panelists’ remarks. The respondents included Liza Burkin, Lead Organizer of the Providence Streets Coalition, Shawn Selleck, Providence City Clerk, and Christina Bevilacqua, Programs & Exhibitions Director at the Providence Public Libraries. You can watch a video of the November 29th event and the subsequent responses here:

We conducted a pre-event survey of the attendees to gauge their experience with and attitudes toward the two topics. You can find a summary of the survey results for the first event here:

Reimagining Elections

The second event Reimagining Elections looked at how we can build off the lessons learned from the unprecedented elections held in 2020 to make voting more accessible in Rhode Island. Speakers included Angela McCalla, Newport City Councilor, Cherie Cruz, Executive Director of the Formerly Incarcerated Union, Cristin Langworthy, Community Organizer for the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless, Alex Taylor, first-time poll worker, and Nick Lima, Director of Elections for the City of Cranston. The respondents included Gretchen Macht, Professor of Engineering and Director of URI Votes, and John Caserta, Professor of Graphic Design at the Rhode Island School of Design. You can watch a video of the December 13th event and the subsequent responses here:

You can find a summary of the survey results for the second event here:

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