29 September 2011

Participatory Budgeting

What would you do with $1 million dollars? 
Starting in October, Taxpayers Will Decide How to Spend Millions of NYC Budget DollarsNew York City is about to experience a new kind of democracy. [Name of organization] is proud to be a partner for a groundbreaking experiment in grassroots democracy, called "participatory budgeting". Together with four City Council Members and a broad coalition of organizations, we are undertaking an exciting initiative to put budget decisions directly in the hands of the people those decisions impact most – city residents. 

In October, residents of four diverse City Council districts from Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, will come together to decide how to spend around $6 million of taxpayer money. In each district, they will decide what to do with at least $1 million of the districts' capital funding budget, the part of the budget that is used to repair streets, improve parks, buy school technology, or build bike lanes. Community members will exchange and debate ideas, work together to turn ideas into project proposals, and then decide what projects get funded at the ballot box. The process will make budgeting more transparent and accessible. It will open up participation to people who have never been involved before. And it will make budgeting more effective, because who knows better what is needed in our communities than the people who live there? 

Come out to a neighborhood assembly in October to learn more and submit project ideas. The first assemblies start next week:

Monday, October 3: 45th District Assembly (East Flatbush)
6:30pm – 9:00pm
TOP Civic Center (1098-1100 Utica Avenue, Between Beverly & Clarendon Roads) 

Wednesday, October 5: 39th District Assembly (Park Slope)
6:30pm – 9:00pm
Old First Reformed Church, 729 Carroll Street

Thursday, October 6: 8th District Assembly (East Harlem)
6:30pm – 9:00pm
Yorkville Common Pantry 8 E. 109th Street (between Madison & Fifth Avenues)

See http://pbnyc.org/ for the full schedule of assemblies and more information.
 How can you get involved? 

1) Free (volunteer) or very, very low cost written translation for the following languages for educational and outreach materials and surveys and questionnaires.
  • Spanish
  • Mandarin
  • Yiddish
  • Russian
  • Polish
  • Bengali/Bangala
2) There may still be need for experienced facilitators for the neighborhood assemblies, and people to conduct interviews and observations to help out with the research on the process. If you have experience in conducting community forums, please contact me or Josh Lerner josh@participatorybudgeting.org ASAP to participate in the training sessions TONIGHT and on Tuesday night in the city.
3) We will also need with technical support to district delegates in their work later this semester and at the beginning of the new year, and with the national conference that we are planning to co-host in early Spring...
Read more on the process at http://www.participatorybudgeting.org

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