My experience to be chosen as one of the panelists on the first Citizens’ Initiative Review was nothing but positive… I have been a resident of this state all of my 76 years and this was the first time I felt as though my voice was heard.
Photo from 2018 CIR session.
[The process] was challenging, but, ultimately, hugely gratifying and rewarding to produce such an important document. Many of us consider it to be our most meaningful experience in politics. And for those of us who have struggled to keep faith in the political system, it helped to restore it.
My time spent during the CIR impacted my life greatly. The experience was unlike anything I had experienced before… I was lucky enough to be selected to participate, and being someone who always had a passion for community but no outlet to follow, the CIR created an amazing way to make a difference and truly help as many people as possible.
I was so fortunate to be one of the participants last summer in the trial program and it was a life changing event for me. I still talk about it to anyone who will listen because it meant so much to me. It opened my eyes to how things should work in government… Our CIR group was demographically representative of Massachusetts, and of course, we had our own thoughts and beliefs so getting to a point where we could put together a common document that laid out the most important facts was a challenge, but a truly bonding process as well. I left that workshop feeling so connected to the people there and more importantly feeling that doing a process like this works because everyone shared their ideas and thoughts and we came together as a group to come up with a good product that had the potential to help citizens make a good, informed decision about their vote.
Today, I realized when a young man told me he did not talk about religion or politics, that many citizens fear making hard decisions that affect our democracy. Could it be that many citizens do not vote because they want to be on the winning side so they will not take a chance making decisions about difficult issues that demand deep understanding of the issue? ... Wouldn’t it be great if each citizen voted knowledgeably for or against candidates and issues?
Part of what made this experience so valuable to me was the feeling of being able to reach a larger audience with the statement that we produced. We spent a lot of time reading, listening and deliberating on issues which I had little to no background knowledge with people who were very different from me. I learned an incredible amount about certain components of the bill that I had never considered before, and I was given this opportunity to share all of that information with everybody else.