In 2009, Chicago became the first US city to implement participatory budgeting: a method of allotting public money in which residents propose and vote on how to spend a portion of the budget.
What started with one alderman in one ward has spread across the city like (democratic) wildfire. This year, 10 wards are using participatory budgeting to decide on how to spend $7 million. Past projects range from funding art projects like murals and an experiment to bathe a viaduct in purple LED lights, to community safety improvements and creating public spaces like community plazas, to simple things like more garbage cans. (View a map of all the projects here.)
What’s more, the process has engaged over 13,000 Chicago residents – across 12 different communities directly deciding how to spend over $18 million in public dollars – in decisions once reserved for government officials.
To celebrate this year’s budgeting process Participatory Budgeting Chicago (PB Chicago) is launching “#OurChicago,” a campaign to to envision neighborhoods now.
At New Economy Coalition, we’re thrilled to support PB Chicago in this extraordinary wave of direct democracy and collective participation and ask that you join us in spreading the message by sharing this tweet.
Finally—because participatory budgeting is a process that can work for communities ranging from schools to entire countries (Portugal announced the first nationwide PB last year)— we want to hear what your vision for a PB process in your community looks like. Tell us on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtags #PeoplesBudget, #OurMoney and #OurChicago.