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What is this place?

OPENCouncil is a project to collect and publish information on rural, small-town governance.

There are over ten thousand municipalities across the U.S. Most of them are small towns with limited resources. Most of them are facing the same problems. There are two barriers to knowledge that hamper effectiveness in rural government. The first is the barrier of institutional knowledge. The memory of historical decisions and reasoning is short and biased in most small towns. Short election cycles and high attrition mean that over the span of just a few years, a town government can turn over almost entirely. It can be difficult for a newly elected official to get up to speed and reach their maximum effectiveness within their term. Of course, the opposite is true and bias against change can also be a force to be reckoned with.

The second knowledge barrier is that which crosses from town to town. There are many towns and small cities across the country that have similar demographics and make-ups that are facing similar decisions. If an elected official or group of citizens is tackling a problem somewhere, chances are good that someone else has tackled a similar problem elsewhere and has valuable experience to share.

We interview people throughout the State of New Hampshire on a wide array of topics related to rural municipal governance, from state officials to former selectmen and regular citizens. We publish a podcast as well as transcripts of these interviews as often as we can.

The Document Search allows you to instantly search the text of town minutes and ordinances from any device. This allows you to fact check, in the moment, at meetings.