Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Participatory Budgeting conference in NYC in March

Given the ethics challenges in local government in DC and elsewhere, I am intrigued by the concept of "participatory budgeting" and making over appropriations processes as opportunities for civic engagement and public agenda setting. For example, using PB processes for the allocation of monies from constituent funds would be a way to make the funds more useful, and is a much better response than the constant suggestion of the Washington Post editorial page to eliminate the funds altogether.

See the past blog entries:

- Missing the point on constituent service/discretionary funds available from legislators
-- More on ethics: discretionary funding-constituent funds

Via the Comm-Org e-list from:

International Conference:
Participatory Budgeting in the US and Canada

March 30-31, 2012 - New York City

Conference website

Conference Fees
There will be a sliding scale conference fee from $10 for students and low-income people to $50 for full registration. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

The conference dates have been finalized, and we are already planning an exciting lineup of sessions and activities. Here’s a taste of what to expect:

• Site Visits to Observe PB Voting in NYC;
• Presentations on PB processes in New York, Chicago, Toronto Community Housing, Guelph, Montreal, Porto Alegre, the UK, and elsewhere;
• Sessions on e-Participatory Budgeting & Digital Media, Community Organizing, Arts & Culture, Public Housing, and Youth Engagement
• Focused discussions for elected officials, practitioners, and community organizations

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 processes are underway?

2) What common themes or conditions underlie PB experiences in the US and 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?

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