From September 25th-27th, more than 230 practitioners, researchers, organizers, and experts came together in Oakland and Vallejo, California to learn from each other about how to start and improve PB processes as part of the 3rd International Conference on Participatory Budgeting in North America (#PBConf).
Coming out of an inspiring conference, we believe that we can get to 500 PB processes in North America in the next 5 years.
Here are 4 things that we’ll need to make it happen:
1. Hard work
Starting a PB in your community takes a huge effort. It requires focusing political will and community support to try something new. At #PB Conf, we heard stories from Buffalo, NY, where organizers implemented PB after fighting for clean air in their community; from St. Petersburg, FL, where the local union is using organizing for PB as a way to create a more informed community; and from Los Angeles, where public housing residents are pushing for PB in the housing authority.
To see what our hard work looks like, follow us on Facebook!
Click here to see some photos from the conference
Supporting the growth of PB requires skills and experience. Almost half of the 230 conference attendees presented at or moderated one or more sessions, and over the past 5 years, over 46,000 community members have used PB to allocate $45 million. This means that there are now more PB experts than ever before. PBP is committed to sharing our expertise, to building new experts, and to creating new spaces for collaboration.
View the collaborative notes created at #PBConf this year:
We’ve worked tirelessly to create tools that make it easier to start new and improve existing PB processes. Our most recent effort is a new toolkit to help organizers and community members take concrete actions to build support and bring PB to their communities.
Download the kit and let us know what you think: participatorybudgeting.org/toolkit
Enthusiasm for PB is exploding and we are doing our best to keep up with the requests for assistance. You can help us grow by becoming a sustaining supporter and by telling your friends about PB and our work!
About Participatory Budgeting
In cities across North America, budget crises are leading to painful cuts in public services and infrastructure – especially for communities with the greatest needs. Community members are usually left on the sidelines during public budgeting, with little power to shape the spending decisions that affect their lives.
Participatory Budgeting (PB) offers an alternative – a more democratic and accountable way to manage public money. PB is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. First used in Brazil in 1989, there are now over 1,500 participatory budgets around the world. Most are for city budgets, but counties, states, towns, housing authorities, schools, universities, and other institutions have also used PB to give people real power over real money.
PB has only recently appeared on the radar in the US and Canada, with a few Canadian processes starting in 2001 and the first US experiment in 2009. But in just a few years, interest in North America has skyrocketed. PB has grown from just a few experiments to over 20 PB processes in cities, schools, and universities — with nearly 20 more cities currently organizing for PB. In 2014, around 30,000 people in the United States and Canada have used PB to allocate nearly $27 million.
Learn more about PB at the website of The Participatory Budgeting Project.