PB in Action in Durham, North Carolina

In May 2018, North Carolina launched PB Durham where the Durham City Council allocated $2.4 million out of the $500 million budget for residents 13 years or older to decide upon for use in one-time projects. The Durham City council appointed a 15-member steering committee for PB in the city and hired a team including Holland to oversee the process.

“With participatory budgeting, PB, it really humanizes the budget process,” Durham Budget Engagement Manager Andrew Holland told the American City County Magazine. “With our process, that’s what we witnessed. A lot of our residents were energized… they really felt as though they had a voice in the process.”

Over 500 project proposals were submitted during idea collection and the city reached its goal getting over 10,000 city residents to vote which was remarkable. 

Natalie Rich was one of the Durham residents who voted in the city’s PB initiative, voting for an LGBTQ Youth Center. Rich told Indy Week that this was an issue “really close to my heart,” she says. “As a queer person who has experienced rejection from family and friends, I know how important it is to have a place, a protected and welcoming space, for LGBTQ youth.”

Durham is now focused on implementing the project ideas that won, as the greater community remains excited and engaged to see the progress of these new projects in their communities. 

“Creating opportunities for folks to get on the same side of the table builds rapport and support,” PBP Co-Executive Director Shari Davis told American City County Magazine about how PB is changing the government’s relationship with its people. “And I think that PB is part of the answer here, but I think one of the challenges in moving PB forward is making sure that folks are on the same side of the table so this is not just another top-down mandate or an example of folks doing intense advocacy not being heard,” she said. 

This past October, PB Durham and was invited to speak at the International Observatory Participatory Conference and other conferences in North Carolina.

To learn more information about PB Durham, please visit pbdurham.org.

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