Close this search box.

Shari on NHK: To transform democracy, we have to practice change

Photo of Shari Davis holding a sign that says "To Transform Democracy we have to practice change."

Our Co-Executive Director Shari Davis was recently featured on NHK, a Japanese international public media organization, for a 15 minute video segment on PBP, New Black City, martial arts, and the importance of community-led decision making in unlocking an equitable future together.

In this personal, informative, and inspirational piece, Shari shared how their upbringing and experiences laid the path to their work today building democracy at PBP:

“My conversations with my parents as a young person included an awareness of the world, awareness of the dangers of the world and of systemic racism. But also this challenge, this belief, that together we can protect communities and change our environment.”

Another part of their story that Shari continues to draw from today has been the opportunity to teach karate to other youth as a teenager. In the interview, Shari describes how their strong belief in the power of young people has only deepened:

“I’ve learned that young people of all ages have brilliant, smart, practical, important, revolutionary ideas…Young people are leaders right now. They have to be. We have to be willing to listen to and hold up young people as they build the skills that will shepherd us to where we all live together. I can’t think of any major social or transformational movement that didn’t harness the power of young people.”

And for them, this extends to everyone whose lives are impacted by budgetary decisions, especially people of color and the LGBTQIA community:

“This is a process that is about equity. In the last few years there has been an increased focus on racial justice – the importance of black people being able to thrive – and on the importance of the LGBTQIA community being able to live safely.

PB is important because budgets are important. We all make decisions large and small. Budgets can seem intimidating, but everyone has lived experience that should inform what kind of budget decisions happen in a neighborhood.”

With their New Black City project, Shari has curated collective visioning spaces for Black community members to share their visions for what an ideal city would look like. They plan to gather these ideas and turn them into a comic book:

“This New Black City project is about dreaming about what’s possible and building a blueprint for the future…We start by removing boundaries and ask ‘what are your biggest dreams?’ and now let’s move backwards to get there. Now let’s invite people to build that place with all of us.”

As Shari shares in the interview, all of the pieces of their journey join in serving and sustaining their deep-seated belief in the importance of using community-led decision-making and participatory democracy to unlock an equitable future together:

“To me, there’s a promise of what democracy is that a lot of people haven’t realized yet. PB creates a chance for us to live into that promise of shared leadership, shared power, and of making decisions together. To me, democracy means being able to understand and shape what’s happening around you.”

To them, stepping into this space of deep collaboration, being open to experimentation, and showing up fully for one another invites us to a new, iterative perspective:

“To transform democracy we have to practice change. You don’t just change one time and solve every problem. You have to practice change, you have to learn from other people. It is an iterative process.”

Watch the interview to get the full story and learn more about Shari’s journey and work at PBP!


PBP helps communities decide how to improve using public money.

Looking to get in touch?

Join Our Newsletter