Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Participatory Budgeting Comes to San Francisco (and Berkeley and Vallejo)

(Editor's note: I have been organizing this for the past few months after seeing really inspiring presentations from Toronto public housing, Chicago Alderman Joe Moore, and videos from Latin America where the model was initiated. There will be a private meeting at City Hall to go over the details and feasibility with government officials of different participatory budgeting models.)

From Budget Cuts to the People’s Budget: Participatory Budgeting
April 26, 6:30-9pm
Centro del Pueblo Auditorium
474 Valencia St., Second Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103
(wheelchair accessible, refreshments served, donation for space accepted)

Join the Center for Political Education, PODER, JASEcon, the San Francisco Community Land Trust, the Chinese Progressive Association, Bay Area Community Exchange and other community-based organizations for a discussion of Participatory Budgeting and how it could be applied in San Francisco with Josh Lerner and Alderman Joe Moore.

Participatory budgeting is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. Hundreds of municipalities all over the world have used this process to open up decision-making on municipal budgets to community stakeholders. It is an important tool to create more participation in proposal development, transparency of budget allocation, and to get resources to communities whose voices often go unheard and that are significantly under-served by budgets, especially in times of budget cuts. What would the people decide? More money for affordable housing, healthcare, community gardens, worker coop seed grants?

In 2009, Alderman Joe Moore, a member of Chicago's City Council representing the 49th Ward (a district that speaks 80 different languages), launched the first participatory budgeting process in the US, inviting residents of his ward to directly decide how to spend his $1.3 million discretionary budget. The initiative was a resounding success that engaged over 50 civic, religious and community organizations in the development of budget proposals, which culminated in a ward-wide election in April, 2010, where over 1,600 49th Ward residents voted on infrastructure spending priorities for 2010.

For more info, see article “Participatory Budgeting: Sharing Power Over Public Resources”, website Participatory Budgeting Project and video “Direct Democracy in Chicago”

Alderman Joe Moore is a member of Chicago 's City Council. Since 1991 he has represented the city's 49th Ward, which includes the Rogers Park neighborhood. Moore has been named the "Most Valuable Local Official" in the country by The Nation magazine, in recognition for his successful sponsorship of a resolution against the war in Iraq , measures requiring living wages for employees of big box retail stores, and environmental restrictions on Chicago 's coal-fired power plants. Starting in 2009, he launched the first participatory budgeting process in the US, inviting residents of his ward to directly decide how to spend his $1.3 million discretionary budget.

Josh Lerner is Co-Director of The Participatory Budgeting Project, a non-profit organization that works with elected officials, public agencies, and community organizations to open up public budgets to public participation. He served as a lead adviser to Alderman Moore for participatory budgeting in Chicago's 49th Ward, and he has also researched and worked with participatory budgeting processes in Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Guatemala, Spain, and the UK. Lerner is a PhD candidate in Politics at the New School for Social Research and has taught at Fordham University, The New School, and the Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment.

media contact: Mira Luna (mira at

Also events in Berkeley (and Vallejo)
Wednesday April 27th, 5-7pm
UC Berkeley Campus, Wurster Hall
Room 112, 1st floor

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