Participatory Budgeting in the US and Canada: March 2012 in New York, NY

Josh Lerner (Co-Director, The Participatory Budgeting Project) shared this conference announcement via the NCDD listserv:

International Conference: Participatory Budgeting in the US and Canada
March 2012
New York City, NY

From the email:

In a time of widespread budget crises and plummeting trust in government, politicians and community members are searching for more democratic and accountable ways to manage public money. Participatory Budgeting (PB) offers an alternative. PB is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. The process was first developed in Brazil in 1989, and there are now over 1,000 participatory budgets around the world. Most are for city budgets, but counties, states, towns, housing authorities, schools, and other institutions have also used PB to open up public spending to public participation.

PB is now common in Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Africa – and in some cases even required by law. Yet it has only recently appeared on the radar in the US and Canada, with a few Canadian processes starting in 2001 and some initial US experiments starting in 2009.

This first regional conference on PB will take place in New York City to allow participants to observe and celebrate the closing of the city’s first PB cycle. The conference will provide a space for participants and organizers of the initial PB processes in the US and Canada to share and reflect on their experiences so far, alongside interested activists, practitioners, and scholars.


Conference Themes

As an opportunity to reflect upon early PB initiatives in the US and Canada, and build new relationships and collaborations between practitioners, the conference will focus on the following questions. We encourage all submissions relating to these and other similar themes.

  1. What is the current state of PB practice in the United States and Canada? How are current experiments progressing and what efforts to establish new PB’s are underway?
  2. What common themes or conditions underlie PB experiences in the US ad Canada?
  3. How do experiences in these countries differ from PB in other parts of the world?
  4. How do PB experiences in the US and Canada inform key ongoing debates on PB worldwide?
  5. How can PB practitioners, activists, and participants in the US and Canada support each others’ efforts?

The call for proposals ends January 1, 2012.

Participation around money and budgets is an exciting field with plenty of opportunities for online engagement, and a lot of good work in that area is already happening around the world. Being based on the West Coast, this conference sounds like a great excuse to visit New York City.

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