An Invitation to Direct Democracy

Direct democracy can be a disconcerting business. People come together, they state their opinions, they vote. They discover, unexpectedly, that their neighbors don’t share their opinions or that there are sides to an issue they hadn’t considered. Some win, and some lose. After the vote, they pick up and move on. It’s all part of the process. We’ve all won and we’ve all lost.

The Hyde Park Neighborhood Association is a direct democracy. Any resident can become a member, a common standard for neighborhood associations in Austin. Its meetings are conducted according to democratic rules. Any participant can speak after raising a hand and being recognized by the person chairing the meeting. Any participant can make a motion or a second. Any member can vote after a 30-day waiting period, another common standard for neighborhood associations in Austin.

Those of us who conduct meetings can’t guarantee that every speaker will be tactful or restrained. Speakers exhibit the spectrum of human behavior. What we can and do guarantee is that everyone who wants to speak will have the opportunity to speak and that every member who attends the meeting will have the opportunity to vote. Accordingly, we invite you to attend, to join, to speak up, and to vote. We welcome you to the world of direct democracy.

–Lorre Weidlich