Here in New England, we’re currently in peak town meeting session. Residents, or their representatives, are assembling to discuss civic business in towns small and large across the commonwealth.

In Massachusetts, communities with less than 6,000 people effectively act as their own legislators, debating the issues and then casting votes. These are known as open town meetings. Bigger towns can take this approach too, or use a so-called representative town meeting, in which a smaller array of participants are selected beforehand. For an assortment of reasons, many towns prefer the latter format.

But the town of Lee in Western Massachusetts is about to switch from a representative to an open town meeting for the first time in more than 50 years. Susan Wright, Lee's town meeting moderator, joins Adam Reilly to discuss the impetus for that switch, which involves a major environmental battle curretly playing out in town. Reilly is also joined by Susan Clark, an expert on town meetings who moderates the annual gathering in Middlesex, Vermont and is also the co-author of “All Those in Favor: Rediscovering the Secrets of Town Meeting and Community and Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision Making Back Home.”

If you've participated in a town meeting, did the benefits outweigh the disadvantages? Send us a message at, or share your thoughts via the Talking Politics page.

You can watch the discussion below right now, or catch the full show at 7 p.m. on GBH 2. Subscribe to the GBH News’ YouTube channel to get alerted to future episodes.