Come to Chicago to join a movement to reinvent democracy!
After spreading around the world for over 20 years, “Participatory Budgeting” (PB) is making waves in the United States and Canada. Called “revolutionary civics in action” by the New York Times, PB gives people the power to make real decisions over the budgets that affect their lives – and it may soon be coming to a city near you!
In cities across North America, budget crises are leading to painful cuts in public services and infrastructure – especially for communities with the greatest needs. Community members are usually left on the sidelines during public budgeting, with little power to shape the spending decisions that affect their lives. PB offers an alternative – a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. First used in Brazil in 1989, there are now over 1,500 participatory budgets around the world. Most are for city budgets, but counties, states, towns, housing authorities, schools, universities, and other institutions have also used PB to give people real power over real money.
PB has only recently appeared on the radar in the US and Canada, with a few Canadian processes starting in 2001 and the first US experiment in 2009. But in just a few years, interest in North America has skyrocketed – with at least six new processes in the past two years. In 2013, around 20,000 people will use PB to allocate nearly $20 million.
This second regional conference on PB will take place in Chicago, to allow participants to observe and celebrate the final vote for PB Chicago. This new joint process across four city wards builds on the first PB initiative in the US, in the city’s 49th Ward. The conference will provide a space for participants and organizers of the initial PB processes in the US and Canada to share and reflect on their experiences, alongside activists, practitioners, and scholars.