There were many faces present at PBNYC’s Agency Briefing at the Queens Museum of Moving Images. People of all ages were ready to get some answers, asking questions about their ideas and how to effectively turn them into proposals to be voted on. This was part of the exciting development phase of the PB process, where there all questions were welcome for city representatives to answer. Along the way, we met some enthusiastic PB participants who shared their story on why they attended. Claudia and Jean-Claude Calvez, were the newest edition to PB and they were ready to get some answers for a slow zone they wanted to develop in their neighborhood in Woodside, Queens residing in the 30th District under Council member Elizabeth Crowley . Claudia and Jean told us how they had been trying for years to make this project happen and with the helpful guidance from Council member Crowley, They were able to make their way to this PB budget meeting where they are optimistic and open to pursuing their community project through PB.
Students from the Academy of American Studies attended the budgeting meeting to find ways to improve their educational experience in their small yet robust school. The head of the student activities committee, Mashaal Bhatti, and other members of the group were excited to find answers in their quest for obtaining lap tops for their school and expanding their school grounds. We interviewed Mashaal and she shared with us her hopes and endeavors to find solutions to issues students at the school have been facing.
PBP: What community project are you pursuing through participatory budgeting?
Mashaal: Our original project proposal was to introduce iPad carts to our school, however since PB does not approve ipads as a capital project, we have switched our project to getting laptops. We believe technology has a positive effect on learning quality and student engagement throughout a school.
PBP: What was your experience like at the PBNYC budget meeting?
Mashaal: The meeting helped clarify any miscommunication we had about making our project happen! Our main concern was trying to understand what would be acceptable as a capital project and what would not. We had to tweak our ideas a bit, but we will continue to strive for the betterment of our school.
PBP: Why PB?
Mashaal: We choose PB to address our concerns because we truly believe our voice will be heard. Such a system makes us feel as though we can improve our school for the better. Since the voting age was lowered to 14, this will help everyone feel as part of the community and have a say on how the school money is spent. I personally believe PB is an amazing process; it allows everyone to be part of something bigger and have a voice. It gives meaning to the phrase “power to the people” and represents democracy.