The People’s Fund, East End & Hendon, Sunderland


The People's Fund was one of the original 5 pilots that the then Office of the Deputy Prime Minister funded to trial PB. They used a small community chest approach, with two events using PB to allocate £15,000 and £35,000 respectively. It was run by the local regeneneration programme known as Back on the Map, which was the public face of the Sunderland New Deal for Communities 10 year renewal initiative.

Keighley Decision Day, Bradford


Bradford Local Strategic Partnership (Bradford Vision), decided to distribute the 2006/07 round of Neighbourhood Renewal Funding (NRF) in Keighley using a process of Participatory Budgeting. On “Decision Day” community organisations allocated a total of £130,000 to local projects using the participatory budgeting.  The Keighley process was led by Bradford Vision’s neighbourhood manager for the area with the support of the senior team.

Participatory Budgeting in Wigan


This case study reports on how Wigan Encompass used Participatory Budgeting principles to distribute £20,000 to community organisations who were members of the local community empowerment network. The Community Network members in Wigan, including Encompass, were eligible to bid for funds from the £20,000 allocation made by the Local Strategic Partnership (LSP) to support the Networks during an interim period, 2008 - 2009 whilst long term funding was being sought..

An integrated approach to PB in Buckinghamshire


Buckinghamshire County Council have taken a different approach to PB. Rather than trial a small grants pot, as most would when starting out with PB, Buckinghamshire are going to pilot 4 different kinds of PB at once. Buckinghamshire is aiming to integrate PB as 'the way we do community engagement'.

The Village Spend, Coedpoeth, North Wales


In 2006 the Community Council in Coedpoeth used precept funds in a PB process. It was promoted by community groups and local leaders. A leaflet was distributed to all residents in the village informing them of the process and inviting them to a public meeting. Together Creating Communities, a broad based community organisation, together with Help the Aged and the Community Council in Coedpoeth all provided support.

Claremont & Weaste devolved highways budget case study


In 2006, Salford City Council made a decision to devolve decision making for the allocation of £100,000 of highways funding (Block 3 Transport capital – ‘Other Minor Works’) to each of the eight community committees in the city using Participatory Budgeting. The programme was a result of many years of work by the PB Unit lobbying the council to adopt a PB approach.

This case study was originally submitted to the Participatory Budgeting Unit by the organisers of the project, using a template supplied by the PB Unit.

taking a break

For me, the last week has meant: the end of the Summer Institute of Civic Studies (6.5 hours of graduate-level teaching every day), the Frontiers of Democracy conference (150 excited guests at my institution), Albuquerque, a day back in Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco. At this point, I feel an urgent need to go offline. I’ll blog again on Tuesday–from Chicago.

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Welcome, the Commons Atlas!

Ellen Friedman and the good folks at CommonSpark website (“a collective of commons activators”) are in the early stages of assembling a new sort of resource guide for the commons, “The Commons Atlas.”  This innovative project is a collection of online maps, “threat maps,” datasets and tools for creating data visualizations (geospatial maps, timelines, network maps, mindmaps, infographics, etc. ) related to the commons.

The diversity of visual systems to locate various commons is wonderful!  If you want to find out where you can locate fruit trees and other edibles for personal gleaning, go to Falling Fruit, Forage Berkeley and Mundraub (Germany).

The atlas includes a map of Maker projects in the US, and a map, “Vivir Bien” (good living) that shows where to locate “resources for a solidarity economy.”  Can’t find a place to sit in a city?  Check out Street Seats, which identifies seats and benches where you can sit down in public spaces.

On the Common Atlas, you can find the “Bike-sharing World Map” and and the Great Lakes Commons Map  which plots people’s stories on a map of the Great Lakes along with harms to it.

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Group Decision Tip: Incrementally

Group Decision Tips IconIn principle, the best things are always built in tiny stages. Often there is the illusion of dramatic change, but even seemingly miraculous changes result from thousands of small steps. Taking small steps forward on a project lets us learn as we go and adjust. Big steps are risky. Small steps are sure-footed. Nature builds in very small increments and achieves very great things.

Practical Tip: Do things small before you do them big, on small stages before big stages. Make use of pilot projects, test cases, and trial runs. Make commitments incrementally. Proceed with many small steps rather than a few giant leaps. When your group wants to rush ahead asking, “What’s the biggest step we can take to achieve our objective?” ask also, “What’s the smallest step we can take?”

It is better to take a small step in what we know is the right direction than to take a large step in what might be the wrong direction.

police as community-builders

(San Francisco) The short presentations from Frontiers 2013 are all available in video form here. As an enticing example, I present the police chief of Brooklyn Park, MN, Michael Davis. Brooklyn Park is one of the most diverse communities in Minnesota. Chief Davis argues that police forces must move beyond merely engaging their communities; they must help to build communities. He nicely summarizes the work of Harvard sociologist Robert Sampson, which I have described on this blog before. Sampson has shown that, holding other factors constant, neighborhoods with more “collective efficacy” see considerably less violent crime; and networks of nonprofit associations can boost collective efficacy. Chief Davis argues that police can help them do that.

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