The 49th Ward’s Participatory Budgeting process once again is receiving recognition from the White House. My chief-of-staff, Betsy Vandercook, and my participatory budgeting liaison, Cecilia Salinas, were invited recently to attend a day-long meeting at the White House to discuss their experiences with participatory budgeting in Rogers Park.
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy organized the meeting and co-sponsored it with the Participatory Budgeting Project, which is the organization that helped me launch “PB” in the 49th Ward. They brought together community organizers, residents, funders, researchers and technologists to share best practices and identify next steps for expanding and deepening PB.
As reported in the White House OSTP blog, Betsy and Stanford University Professor Ashish Goel demonstrated a new online voting tool piloted at last May’s 49th Ward Participatory Budgeting election. The tool is already showing great promise as a way to help community members easily access information about their voting options.
Betsy and Cecilia were joined by leading researchers, such as Gianpaolo Baiocchi of New York University, Tiago Peixoto of the World Bank, and Alexa Kasdan of New York’s Community Development Project, who also spoke about the positive effects of participatory budgeting, and new evaluation techniques for measuring and communicating these impacts.
Participatory budgeting first began in Brazil 25 years ago and spread to countries around the world, making its debut in the United States in 2009 when I introduced it to the 49th Ward and asked my residents to vote on how to spend my $1 million discretionary fund. Since that time, more and more cities have launched participatory budgeting efforts, including New York City, San Francisco, Vallejo, California, and Boston.
As Josh Lerner, the Executive Director of the Participatory Budgeting Project noted, when the 49th Ward launched participatory budgeting five years ago it was “an obscure idea in the U.S. Now, as the White House has recognized, it’s a best practice for civic engagement, used by over 40 cities, districts, universities, schools, and other institutions across the country”.
Congratulations once again to the 49th Ward Participatory Budgeting Leadership Committee and all the scores of community volunteers who have made participatory budgeting in the 49th Ward a national model!