A shared passion for deep democracy and building community in Cleveland brought Molly and Jonathan together.

Whether walking the streets of the city together or marching in front of Cleveland City Hall, it’s no secret that Jonathan Welle and Molly Martin are a PB power couple. They met through their shared passion for deep democracy and building community in Cleveland while advocating for the city to adopt participatory budgeting.

Their grassroots coalition, PB CLE, is currently advocating for a $5 million PB process in the city while exploring other democracy tools that could bring community-led decision making to Cleveland’s neighborhoods.

The couple’s meet cute happened in a coffee shop in 2019, where the conversation focused as much on their mutually held vision for the city as it did on their personal stories. Jonathan on Molly, “I love the way she can connect with anyone she meets immediately and shows deep presence with them. I love to be that person and to learn how she does that with other people.” He said it felt fun and thrilling to meet her!

Yet, it wasn’t until two years later after a PB CLE retreat that they finally started dating after working in parallel on different, intersecting community issues. Jonathan runs Cleveland Owns, a nonprofit focused on growing economic democracy and cooperatives, and Molly is a longtime homeless rights activist.

Jonathan again: “It was only when I started doing things that resonated with my values that I met people I wanted to form lifelong relationships with.” Molly agrees, observing that, “I think we are both interested in shifting power and doing that in a transformative, life affirming way. PB is doing that and the embeddedness of our relationship in the [Cleveland] PB community adds strength to that beloved community we are striving for.”

She jokes that when you are with either one of them, PB is always on their hearts and minds. “We're probably more likely to run a ballot initiative in 2023 than have a wedding!” And with the big community they have been able to find through PB, a lot of those folks are on their potential wedding invite list.

With their shared passions and strong connection, she says “whatever we choose to do together, I feel extremely confident that we could do it.” With one another and their many friends and advocates, this PB power couple is growing an abundant, loving community rooted in participatory budgeting. Whatever happens next, they're in it together.