PBP always wants to know what got our members interested in PB! PBP’s Solaire Spellen interviewed Long Beach Steering Committee Member Kellie Morris to talk about how she and her husband first got involved in participatory budgeting!
Solaire: Kellie, tell us about yourself.
Kellie: I have lived in North Long Beach for three years, but prior to that my family lived in Carson. My husband and I lived in Long Beach after we married 34 years ago and have always wanted to return, so when the opportunity to move came up, we decided Long Beach was the ideal city for us! Our two daughters and granddaughter also live in Long Beach.
I am self-employed, providing bicycle safety instruction, coaching, tour design and tour planning. My company is We All Ride Bikes.
Solaire: How did you first get involved in PB, and why?
Kellie: I received the invitation to be part of the process because Councilmember Rex Richardson (Long Beach District 9) has me on his distribution list for community involvement. Prior to moving the Long Beach, I did volunteer but had never been involved with any political work. My general impression and experience with politicians had not been very positive. But when I met Councilman Richardson, I found him to be genuine. He really cares about the 9th District. When I attended the first PB meetings I had an idea that this was something very new and exciting. It’s not often you get a chance to be involved in something new. I knew PB was that opportunity for me.
When our family moved to Carson in 1973, the area was unincorporated. When the city was formed, my Dad decided to be involved in the formation of the city by volunteering his time on many commissions: Parks & Recreation and Planning. I remember the satisfaction he received by making a difference in how the new City of Carson would be planned. Maybe, I thought, PB would give me that kind of opportunity to make a difference in Long Beach.
Solaire: What did you end up doing in the PB process?
Kellie: Steering committee member and facilitator was the most important role I played. I like the challenge of helping a group of people reach agreement especially when the group is full of highly opinionated people.
Solaire: What most surprised you about your experience with PB?
Kellie: I was most surprised at the speed of the entire process! Most community engagement I have been involved with moved at the speed of a glacial, with little or no perceptible movement at all. By contrast, PB takes off like a racehorse and never stops!
Solaire: What were the biggest impacts of PB on the community and you as a person?
Kellie: The guess work is gone! The community can tell our councilman what WE want. Throughout this process, I had a strong feeling that I was making a difference and that my opinion counts. I was at one of the assemblies where we “kidnapped” the Senior Lunch at Houghton Park. I remember the initial response of the crowd “sure you want my opinion?” And “no one cares about our opinion!” The more time we took to explain the process and give them positive feedback for their ideas, the more they participated. We showed that they are valuable members of society.