Tell us about yourself.
My name is Krystal Peartree. I‘m a New York native and currently live in the Parkchester section of the Bronx, but grew up in the Hunts Point neighborhood of the South Bronx. I’ve just started a position at the NYC Department of Environmental Protection as an Analyst of M/WBE Programs. I’ve worked a majority of my career in Community and Economic Development, mostly in marginalized communities like the South Bronx. I’ll be completing my Masters in City and Regional Planning from the Pratt Institute in December 2013.
How did you first get involved in PB, and why?
I first became involved in PB back in October 2012 when I volunteered as a delegate with NYC Council District 8. Although I wasn’t a typical constituent of the district because I didn’t live or work in the district, civic engagement processes that give the decision making power back to the people have always been somewhat of an interest to me since I was a child. I got involved simply because it matters.
Being able to make people aware of the power in numbers and the power in community is major.
What did you end up doing in the PB process?
I worked for months as a delegate on the Parks Committee, from which one of the winning projects hailed (Jefferson Park Renovations). Specifically, I toured a number of sites that were suggested during the neighborhood assemblies and developed two project proposals, one of which was for a park in the Mott Haven area of the Bronx. This was important to me because there were not many projects geographically located in the Bronx, and although I don’t live in Mott Haven, it felt good to be giving back to my community in a broader sense. I also volunteered during voting week where I registered hundreds of PB voters.
What most surprised you about your experience with PB?
Over the years, with my interest and line of work, I’ve experienced and participated in numerous community engagement efforts, all in regards to very passionate issues such as education reform and environmental justice that specifically affect communities of color. What made my experience with PB different was really me developing a long term commitment to the cause and to the process.
My “ah-ha” moment came to me when I attended the Annual Participatory Budgeting Conference in Chicago back in May 2013. It wasn’t until then at the conference, where I met people from all over the world, that I realized how huge this thing (PB) really was! And it made me even more excited and passionate about it all.
What were the biggest impacts of PB on the community? On you as a person?
I believe the biggest impact PB had on the community was gaining a greater sense of awareness. Being able to make people aware of the power in numbers and the power in community is major.
– December 2013