International PB Conference: March 2012, NYC

Please share with your networks:
International Conference: Participatory Budgeting in the US and Canada
March 30-31, 2012, New York City

Conference Website:
In a time of widespread budget crises and plummeting trust in government, politicians and community members are searching for more democratic and accountable ways to manage public money. Participatory Budgeting (PB) offers an alternative. PB is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. The process was first developed in Brazil in 1989, and there are now over 1,000 participatory budgets around the world. Most are for city budgets, but counties, states, towns, housing authorities, schools, and other institutions have also used PB to open up public spending to public participation.
PB is now common in Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Africa – and in some cases even required by law. Yet it has only recently appeared on the radar in the US and Canada, with a few Canadian processes starting in 2001 and some initial US experiments starting in 2009.
This first regional conference on PB will take place in New York City to allow participants to observe and celebrate the closing of the city’s first PB cycle. 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 so far, alongside interested activists, practitioners, and scholars.
March 30-31, 2012
Note: The conference will coincide with the final vote for the New York City Participatory Budgeting process. The dates of the vote have not been finalized yet, but we expect them to be one of these two weekends. We will confirm the dates as soon as possible.
New York City: Pratt Institute (Brooklyn), Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, and other locations throughout the city
Pratt Institute, Programs for Sustainable Planning and Development
The Participatory Budgeting Project
Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College (CUNY)
Conference Themes
As an opportunity to reflect upon early PB initiatives in the US and Canada, and build new relationships and collaborations between practitioners, the conference will focus on the following questions. We encourage all submissions relating to these and other similar themes.
1) What is the current state of PB practice in the United States and Canada? How are current experiments progressing and what efforts to establish new PB’s are underway?
2) What common themes or conditions underlie PB experiences in the US ad Canada?
3) How do experiences in these countries differ from PB in other parts of the world?
4) How do PB experiences in the US and Canada inform key ongoing debates on PB worldwide?
5) How can PB practitioners, activists, and participants in the US and Canada support each others’ efforts?
Session Types
We encourage presenters to submit proposals for a variety of session formats. These may include, but are not limited to: panel discussions, workshops, presentations, and videos. Sessions are scheduled to last 1.5 hours, but some sessions may group together shorter activities. Though the conference’s primary focus is on PB in the US and Canada, proposals dealing with broader PB issues or other locations will also be considered. Proposals that reflect a diversity of opinions, experiences and backgrounds will be given priority.
Panel Discussions: Panel discussions should be facilitated by a moderator (please indicate in your proposal whether you would like us to help identify a moderator/discussant) and should be composed of 3-5 panelists. Panels should leave adequate time for discussion.
Workshops: The goal of proposed workshops should be the participation of workshop participants in a discussion or other activity designed to learn, communicate, debate, etc. Workshops can be led by a single person, although workshops led by a diverse range of people are preferred. “Presenting” by workshop leader/s should be limited.

Presentations of PB experiences and academic papers are also welcome. Presentations will be grouped together based on subject, geography or theme. Academic paper presentations will be limited to 15 minutes, and all presenters should be prepared for discussion with other participants.
Videos and Other Formats: We welcome video screenings and other artistic or creative proposals.
Conference Fees
There will be a sliding scale conference fee from $10 for students and low-income people to $50 for full registration. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.
Submission Guidelines
Session proposals should include the following information:
● Title
● Abstract (200-400 words)
● Name(s) and/or organizations of authors, presenters, panelists, workshop leaders, etc
● Special arrangements or other considerations (space requirements, scheduling requests, etc)
Please submit proposals by email to: