Have you met Hui Zhen Li, a 90-year-old community leader in Oakland?

We’re celebrating her amazing work as a PB leader with Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) at our June 1st Oakland PBParty Benefit! As this summer marks five years of participatory budgeting (PB) in California, now is the time to get your tickets to the #PBParty, and to meet Hui Zhen:

Image Description: Community leader Hui Zhen uses a megaphone at a march with Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN)

Hui Zhen joined APEN more than 10 years ago and has become one of APEN’s core leaders. Due to the lack of public decision-making processes that Hui Zhen experienced in China, she is now passionately organizing around PB, as “a democratic budgeting process for the low-income community to voice out their concerns and needs.” Hui Zhen first found out about PB at one of APEN’s community meeting and she wanted to get involved right away.

Earlier this year, Oakland residents of City Council Districts 1 and 2 decided how federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds should be spent to benefit low-to-moderate income communities in their district. Oakland is the first city in the U.S. to use PB to allocate federal funds. And thanks to incredible volunteers like Hui Zhen, and outreach partners like APEN and Oakland Rising, more than 1,200 people of all ages speaking four different languages came together to decide how to spend $784,678 to benefit low-income residents.

Hui Zhen served as a budget delegate to develop concrete project proposals and did outreach in her building during the voting period. What inspired her the most about PB is its mass appeal to community members of all walks of life to make real decisions with real money. “I was surprised by all those great ideas that were generated from the community,” she said, “given the Chinatown community is a lot more reserved in wanting to make changes.” This is the power of PB.

On the evening of June 1st, Hui Zhen will be accepting the Community Activist Award on behalf of APEN at the PBParty. Join APEN and Hui Zhen on June 1st to celebrate PB and all those who make it possible.

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