Beginning in October of 2011 and culminating in a final vote a few weeks ago, New York City just completed its first round of participatory budgeting. Four city council members, representing districts from all over the city, committed at least $1,000,000 of their discretionary budgets to be set aside for projects voted on directly by their district residents. The process is entirely community-based. Residents research and propose their own projects, and then serve on various committees to develop those ideas and lobby for their success. A six month process of committee meetings, general assemblies, and community engagement culminated at the end of March with a final vote in each district and an international conference about the pilot program. Building Movement Project was proud to serve on the steering committee for the project in New York City and we sent three delegates from Detroit to the conference. During their time in New York, our delegates from Detroit participated in informational seminars, spoke with project leadership, and, most importantly, visited the pilot districts to see the participatory budgeting process in action. They are taking the knowledge and experiences they gained through this process back with them to Detroit, in hopes of developing a similar program there.
This video from BillMoyers.com follows two men from New York’s District 8, represented by Melissa Mark-Viverito, as they head to the final vote hoping the project that they proposed- a new basketball court and playground improvements for their housing development- would win city funding. Spotted in the crowd at the reveal of the winning projects is Miguel Pope, one of our Detroit delegates and President of the MEBCA community association in Detroit.
We are all excited to watch the winning projects begin to take shape in their home districts, and hope that we can get even more people involved in the participatory budgeting process next year.