I’m writing to invite you to join me on “Giving Tuesday” in supporting a group that is helping to expand true democracy in Chicago and throughout the United States: a non-profit organization called The Participatory Budgeting Project.
Four years ago, I became the first elected official in the United States to implement Participatory Budgeting. Known by its acronym “PB,” Participatory Budgeting is a process that empowers ordinary people to decide how tax dollars are spent in their communities. People come together to brainstorm ideas for how to improve their community, work with experts to turn these ideas into concrete proposals, and then vote to decide which proposals get funded.
This revolutionary process has been used all over the world to decide how to spend over a billion dollars, but it’s only in its infancy in the U.S.
The Participatory Budgeting Project provided critical advice and support that helped my community and me launch “PB49” in the 49th Ward. As a result of their efforts, PB49 has been a rousing success, with thousands of 49th Ward residents deciding by popular vote how to spend over $4 million in my community.
Since the 49th Ward implemented PB in 2009, The Participatory Budgeting Projecthas worked to expand participatory budgeting far beyond my ward to include three other Chicago wards and city council districts in New York City, San Francisco, and St. Louis. Last year, Vallejo, California, became the first city to implement participatory budgeting citywide.
Quite simply, participatory budgeting would not have occurred in my ward or in the other cities without the help and support of The Participatory Budgeting Project. In fact, I was so impressed by their work that I agreed to serve on their Board of Directors.
To learn more, take a look at this great video. Or you can read about those who are experiencing the excitement of PB, such as Jenny Aguiar, one of the youth participants in the citywide process in Vallejo, CA:
“I came in for the free pizza . . . but I stayed because I saw an opportunity to make a change. Before this, I had little to no experience in working with my community, but I had always been interested. . . .
“There was a stronger sense of unity that has emerged from PB. Personally, it just opened my eyes to what it was like to actually do something that means something to people. . . . I now know I have the ability to help not just this community, but many more.”
Real Power. Stronger Communities. Better Decisions. These are the results of participatory budgeting.
The Participatory Budgeting Project needs your help to continue the work of expanding democracy in the U.S. This year alone, over 20 U.S. cities have approached them to set up participatory budgeting. But they can’t do it without the financial resources. This is a big opportunity for you to help take this movement to the next level and really transform government.
By giving today, Tuesday, December 3rd, you can help make your contribution count even more. The Participatory Budgeting Project’s board of directors and major donors have pledged to match all donations today up to $7,000, meaning that every dollar you give is doubled–give $25 and they receive $50, give $250 and they receive $500, or give $1,000, as I plan to do, and they receive $2,000.
And when you give, you’ll have the opportunity to get a true taste of participatory budgeting–you’ll receive an email invitation to vote in the group’s own internal PB process, to help them decide how to spend the donations they receive in 2013.
So please, give generously today!