Participatory Budgeting Project Launches Global PB Hub

We want to make sure folks in our network heard that NCDD member organization the Participatory Budgeting Project recently launched a new global PB hub! We’re excited for this effort which will connect PB practitioners and provide space to share resources, and further expand participatory budgeting across the world. You can read the announcement in the post below and find the original on the Participatory Budgeting Project’s blog here.


PBP is launching a new Global PB Hub!

We’re thrilled to announce that PBP is launching a new global hub for PB practitioners and advocates, thanks to a $560,000 grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The Global PB Hub will coordinate knowledge sharing, research, learning, and resource development for PB practitioners and advocates around the globe.

The PB Hub will build on the knowledge and expertise of implementers and supporters around the world. We will work with the PB community to map existing knowledge and to identify priorities for new PB research and resources. To start, we’re inviting PB implementers, advocates, and researchers to apply for the Hub’s Governance Board and Research Board.

Why do we need a Global PB Hub?

Over the past 30 years, PB has expanded to more than 7,000 cities across the globe, becoming the most widespread model of participatory democracy. PB leaders have generated a wealth of knowledge and expertise, but these resources are often inaccessible to local implementers and advocates. And despite PB’s global growth, local PB processes still face common challenges: limited guidance for implementers, labor-intensive coordination, empty top-down mandates, and slow implementation of winning projects.

These were the main findings of the PB Exchange, a  co-design workshop held in November 2018 that gathered experts and implementers from 21 countries to assess the challenges and opportunities of PB implementation. Based on the recommendations of the PB Exchange participants, the Hewlett Foundation dedicated a two year grant to pilot a global hub to coordinate PB knowledge and peer exchange around the world.

What will the Global PB Hub do?

PBP is honored to receive this grant and to host the PB Hub. This global effort aims to improve and expand PB around the world by addressing the common challenges and opportunities identified by PB implementers and advocates. Over the next two years, the PB Hub will:

  • Establish new communications and governance systems for the global PB community, including a global PB governance board.
  • Create an online library of PB research and resources, to consolidate, organize, and disseminate the most useful PB research, data, tools, and resources in an accessible format.
  • Convene a global PB research board to identify PB research priorities and kickoff new research addressing these priorities.
  • Identify PB implementers’ priorities for new resources and tools, and develop and disseminate new tools and resources that address these priorities.

Call for Applications

The PB Hub is calling PB implementers, advocates, and researchers around the globe to apply for its new Governance Board and Research Board. We’re looking for candidates eager to improve the quality and impacts of PB, by addressing key challenges and opportunities faced by PB implementers and supporters around the world.

The Governance Board is the high-level governance and decision-making body for the PB Hub. It is responsible for setting PB Hub strategy and policy, planning for its financial sustainability, and ensuring that it is carrying out its goals effectively. The board is also responsible for identifying priorities for new PB research and resources, with the broader PB community and the research board.

The Research Board coordinates global research on PB and its impacts. It is responsible for developing a global PB research agenda and supporting researchers in launching new studies that address research priorities.

The boards will meet up to six times a year, with most meetings via video but at least one multi-day in-person meeting. Board service is a volunteer position, but we will pay for travel costs for in-person meetings.

Please help grow PB around the world by applying to serve on a board or sharing with others who might be interested in serving on a board. Deadline: August 9, 2019.

We’re also hiring a paid intern to work on the PB Hub – apply here and indicate Hub interest in your letter.

We look forward to working with you to build stronger and more equitable democracy around the world!

You can read the original version of this announcement on the PBP site at www.participatorybudgeting.org/global_pb_hub_launch/.

Early Bird Ends June 30th for IAP2 N. American Conference

In case you missed it, The International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) – an NCDD member organization, is holding their 2019 North American Conference from Sept 4-6 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The conference will be a three-day opportunity to dig deeper into public participation with fellow practitioners and highlight the theme, “Leveraging P2 to Create Thriving Communities”. Follow the hashtag #IAP2NAC for extra conference happenings. Early bird registration is open for just another 5 days (until June 30th), so make sure you purchase your tickets at this great rate! You can read the announcement from IAP2 below or find the original on their site here.


 2019 IAP2 North American Conference – Leveraging P2 to Create Thriving Communities

Join us in Charlotte, North Carolina for the 2019 IAP2 North American Conference September 4 – 6, 2019! Charlotte is a city rich in history and diversity, having almost 200 neighborhoods radiating from the central Uptown neighborhood.

Read the Schedule-at a-Glance featuring over 50 professional Development opportunities including sessions, field trips, workshops and more! This is your opportunity to learn from presenters from around the globe. We have presenters from 14 States, 9 Canadian Provinces, and 4 Countries including Finland and Australia.

Never been to an IAP2 North American Conference? Check out materials from our 2018 Conference held in Victoria, BC!

Timing is EVERYTHING! Register on or before June 30, 2019 to get $100 savings on your conference registration! Check out our 2019 Schedule-at-a-Glance to preview speakers, sessions, themes, and SO much more!

Full conference registration covers most pre-conference events, opening reception, Thursday and Friday activities including breakfast, lunch, and the Core Values Awards Gala and dinner.

Stay close to the action by reserving your room at the Sheraton Charlotte Hotel! All conference attendees are eligible to receive our conference discount starting at only $149.00 USD per night! You must book by August 4th to receive the IAP2 discount.

IAP2 Core Values Awards Gala
Join us as we celebrate the best of the best in P2 in North America. We will be celebrating and learning about the amazing projects that have been taking place from the northern tips of Canada to the southern corners of the United States.

Each year, IAP2 Affiliates around the world celebrate excellence in the profession through the IAP2 Core Values Awards. The awards go to projects and organizations which best demonstrate IAP2’s Core Values.

If you are registered for the 2019 IAP2 North American Conference as an attendee, your admission is part of your conference registration. Bring a guest to the festivities! Gala tickets cost $80 USD.

You can find the original announcement from IAP2 at: https://iap2usa.org/2019nac

PBP Releases New Data Map on Participatory Budgeting

The Participatory Budgeting Project, an NCDD member org, has developed a new map of the participatory budgeting (PB) processes happening across the US and Canada, both current and past efforts. PB is a process in which community members democratically vote on a portion of the public budget, and as the map shows, the process has been growing rapidly across the country. We encourage you to learn more in the article below, view the live map here, and find the original version of this piece on PBP’s site here.

Speaking of cool tech tools, make sure you register for our FREE April Tech Tuesday happening in just a few hours (from 2-3pm Eastern, 11am-12pm Pacific), where we will explore the new participatory decision-making platform, Ethelo. You won’t want to miss it – register ASAP!


New Data-Driven Map Shows Spread of Participation in Democracy

As we celebrate the first 30 years of participatory budgeting (PB) in the world and the first 10 years of the Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP), we reflect on how far and wide PB has spread–and how it continues to grow! We’re thrilled to introduce a new tool to help us look back as we plan for the next 30+ years of PB. And so we’re introducing a map of PB across the U.S. and Canada. Each dot on the map represents a place where democracy has been deepened by bringing people together to decide together how to invest public resources in their community. (Below is a screenshot of the map, but make sure you view the real interactive map here!)

How can you get the most data out of this map?

Try playing with the “widgets” located to the right of the map that visualize different classes of data.

  • By default all of the processes show up first but you can select any particular year you are interested in.
  • You can also view a count of how many PB processes of a particular sort took place within the portion of the map you are viewing. For example, you can find out that in 2018 there were 56 PB city-wide, county-wide, and district-level processes in the US and Canada–our biggest year for PB yet!
  • Or, try selecting one year and zooming in to your own neighborhood to find active or pending PB processes in your community. If you click on a dot you can get more info about the process, such as how large the budget was, how many voters turned out, and where to find its website.

The map is linked to the database that PBP maintains to try to track every PB process in the U.S. and Canada. Inevitably some PB processes aren’t on our radar.

If you know that PB exists somewhere not seen on our map, or you have additional data about a PB process, please fill out this form to let us know!

If we listen closely, we hear messages from this data.

This data sheds light on larger questions, such as what is the relationship between the size of PB budgets and the number of people who participate? Looking at PBP data on processes in counties, cities, and urban districts, we find a positive correlation between the size of the PB budget per person and the number of people who take part in a PB vote (r=.22, n=245). In other words, where officials make a stronger commitment to funding PB, more people take part in the process–all the more reason to continue growing PB!

This year, as we reflect on the first 30 years of PB and the first ten years of PBP, we also look ahead to filling out more of this map. Will you join us as we celebrate and vision – by joining us at our Anniversary Benefit on May 23rd or becoming a PB Amplifier?

You can find the original version of this article on The Participatory Budgeting Project site at www.participatorybudgeting.org/pb-map/.

Submit by Jan 18th to Win $50K in Engaged Cities Award!

We love hearing about opportunities to award those doing great engagement work and want to ensure folks heard that the international Engaged Cities Award is now accepting submissions! NCDD member org, Public Agenda, shared on their blog that Cities of Service has recently launched the second annual Engaged Cities Award, given to those cities with successful engagement efforts to address a specific public problem, in order to create a template for other cities to use in their own communities. 3 cities will be chosen as winners and each winning city will be awarded $50,000 and will be announced at the Engaged Cities Award Summit in Fall 2019.

The award is open to cities in the Americas or Europe, with populations above 30,000 – and the submissions are due January 18, 2019. You can read more about the award below and find the original information on the Public Agenda site here.


Cities of Service Launches Second Annual Engaged Cities Award

Cities of Service, a nonprofit organization that helps mayors build stronger cities by changing the way local government and citizens work together, launched the application process for its second annual Engaged Cities Award. The international award program recognizes cities that have actively engaged their citizens to solve a critical public problem.

All over the world, city leaders and citizens are reducing community violence, producing better budgets, creating safer streets and building stronger communities together. The award shines a light on the engagement solutions that have worked for these neighborhoods. Cities of Service creates blueprints, case studies, and other resources that highlight winning cities’ solutions so other cities can replicate their projects and their impact. You can find resources from the 2018 award at engagedcitiesaward.org.

Engaged Cities Award applicants must address a specific problem that directly affects the lives of citizens, such as homelessness, neighborhood safety, or extreme weather, or impacts the city’s ability to deliver vital services to the community.

The Engaged Cities Award is open to cities with populations of 30,000+ in the Americas and Europe. Cities of Service, along with an esteemed group of experts, will choose three winning cities. Each winner will receive a minimum of $50,000 and be announced as part of the Engaged Cities Award Summit in fall 2019.

Are you a city leader engaged in this kind of problem-solving, world-changing work with your citizens? Cities of Service wants to hear from you! Just answer five short questions and submit your application by January 18, 2019.

For more information about the Cities of Service Engaged Cities Award, including guiding philosophy, criteria, eligibility, timeline, and past winners, please visit: engagedcitiesaward.org.

Looking to learn more about last year’s winners? Check out this blog from Cities of Service Award judge and Public Agenda Vice President of Public Engagement Matt Leighninger.

You can read the original announcement of this on Public Agenda’s site at www.publicagenda.org/blogs/cities-of-service-launches-second-annual-engaged-cities-award.

SFU Extends Nominations Deadline for Int’l Blaney Award

Our friends at SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue – also an NCDD member organization, informed us they have extended the nominations deadline for the 2019/20 Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue! We encourage folks to nominate individuals, from anywhere around the globe, who have demonstrated excellence in utilizing dialogue to advance complex social issues and increase mutual understanding. Awardees are given a programming residency at SFU to continue their work, a CAD10,000 cash award, and more. Make sure to submit by the new deadline, January 14, 2019! You can read about the award in the post below and find the original on the here.


SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue is now accepting nominations for the 2019/20 Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue

Know someone who demonstrates excellence in their use of dialogue? Nominate them ahead of January 14, 2019 (Deadline extended!) for the next Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue.

The Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue is presented every second year to an individual who has demonstrated international excellence in the use of dialogue to increase mutual understanding and advance complex public issues. Nominations are encouraged from around the world in the fields of international diplomacy & conflict resolution, climate solutions, diversity and inclusion, democracy and civic engagement, and urban sustainability.

CRITERIA USED TO SELECT THE RECIPIENT INCLUDE:

  • The candidate’s demonstrated international excellence in the use of dialogue to increase mutual understanding;
  • The global significance of the work in addressing complex and profound public issues; and
  • Related programming opportunities.

ABOUT THE AWARD:

Far more than a simple ceremony, the Blaney Award includes a short programming residency in Canada that builds upon the recipient’s work to achieve tangible outcomes, reflecting the mandate of Simon Fraser University to be Canada’s most community-engaged research university. The award endowment includes funds to cover recipient transportation and associated programming costs, as well as a CAD10,000 cash award.

Recent Blaney Award programs have engaged thousands of participants through the hosting of international announcements, book launches, capacity building workshops, and participatory research.

NOMINATION SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:

*Nomination deadline extended*: January 14, 2019 at 17:00 (Pacific Standard Time)

Inquiries: Grace Lee, Program Lead for Signature Events and Endowment, eunhyel@sfu.ca , +01 778-782-4893

VIEW PAST AWARD RECIPIENTS

You can find the original version of this SFU announcement at www.sfu.ca/dialogue/awards/jack-p-blaney/call-for-nominations.html.

Exciting New Book on 30 Years of Participatory Budgeting

For our participatory budgeting enthusiasts out there (and we know there are a lot of you!), NCDD member org – the Participatory Budgeting Project, recently shared the exciting new book, Hope for Democracy: 30 years of participatory budgeting worldwide. The 600-page volume, edited by Nelson Dias, features over 60 authors on their experiences with PB across the world over the last 30 years and offers great insights for how to further grow the PB movement. We are thrilled to note that folks are able to download this book for free! You can read more about it in the post below and find the original announcement on the PBP site here.


Hope for Democracy: A New Book Reflects on 30 Years of Participatory Budgeting

An expansive new volume edited by Nelson Dias features dispatches by more than 60 authors from the frontlines of participatory budgeting’s (PB) growth around the world. This book, Hope for Democracy, could not have come out at a better time for PB supporters in North America. Next year will mark 10 years of PB in the US and new opportunities to take PB to the next level: a big citywide process approved in NYC, hundreds of new school PB processes, and growing political interest in strengthening democracy.

To make the most of these great opportunities to revitalize democracy, we need to first learn from PB’s growth internationally. Dias and his collaborators deliver countless insights in their 600-page panorama. (Download the book for free here.)

We lift up the biggest lessons below…

Why have Hope for Democracy?
Dias begins with an overview of key trends in PB as it spread from Porto Alegre, Brazil in 1989 to over 7,000 localities around the world. PB experts Brian Wampler, Stephanie McNulty, and Michael Touchton note how in Brazil during the 1990s, leftist politicians and activists championed PB as a radical project to “broaden the confines of representative democracy, mobilize followers, and achieve greater social justice” (p. 55); over time, it attracted support from a wide range of actors, including international organizations like the World Bank, because of its potential to improve governance and promote civic engagement. Giovanni Allegretti and Kalinca Copello discuss how, as PB spread internationally, new processes often committed fewer funds, whether measured as lower PB spending per person or as a smaller share of PB in the overall budgets (p. 45).

Benjamin Goldfrank and Katherine Landes examine how this trend has played out in the U.S. and Canada. They report that PB has expanded more slowly than other regions in terms of the number of cities implementing it, the amount of participants, and the volume of funds (p. 161). Yet, Goldfrank and Landes demonstrate this is not due to a lack of public interest: “we find that where PB allocates larger pots of money, the rate of participation tends to be higher” (p. 172). In other words, the more dollars that a PB process allocates, the more people care about it. Moreover, two bright spots on the horizon indicate that PB may grow faster in coming years: its mounting presence in schools and its rising appeal among progressive activists and politicians.

In the light of the recent victories in NYC—PB in all public high schools and citywide PB approved into the city charter—this watershed may be closer than the Goldfrank and Landes anticipated. Chapters on Paris, Russia, and Portugal offer additional insights on how to scale up PB in North America.

Paris offers a model of PB going big
Paris currently runs the largest PB process in the world. Similar to NYC’s coming city-wide process, PB in Paris was championed by a progressive mayor, Anne Hidalgo, who successfully campaigned on bringing PB to Paris in her 2014 election. Mayor Hidalgo wasted no time in implementing her plan of dedicating 5% of the city’s capital budget to PB over the first five years (That’s roughly 500 million euros!). Tiago Peixoto and colleagues use the Paris case to study large-scale issues, like whether online voting improves the process or biases it towards more privileged residents. Their research finds that voting patterns between online voters and those who vote in person are remarkably similar.

PB in Russia innovates, expands rapidly
In 2015, Russia experienced a turning point after which the number of PB processes grew surprisingly fast. This occurred when the Ministry of Finance noted the positive outcomes in regional PB processes and created a framework known as Initiative Financing. The next year, 8,732 PB projects were implemented. By 2018, half of all regional governments in the country (the equivalent of U.S. states) decided to set up PB programs.

Why did so many regions begin PB so quickly, when the federal government did not provide financial incentives to do so? Ivan Shulga and Vladimir Vagin emphasize how the central framework and technical assistance provided by the Ministry of Finance and the World Bank made regional implementation much easier. These processes also made use of some innovative institutional designs. In some programs, municipalities, businesses, organizations, and citizens pledged to co-finance projects, increasing their chance of receiving regional funding. Another program used a form of sortition or citizen jury, in which a cohort of volunteer budget delegates was randomly selected, to work with experts to turn project ideas into full-fledged and feasible proposals.

Portugal leads the way with national PB
Portugal was the first country to run nation-wide PB. While the process is not particularly large in terms of public participation or budget, it does provide one model of a large-scale institutional design that bridges disparate regions.

Roberto Falanga outlines how the process collected nearly 1,000 ideas from each part of the country in 50 assemblies and winnowed them down into viable proposals for a vote. The process did not use budget delegates to revise the proposals. While this may streamline the process, it runs the risk of giving experts and officials more power than public participants. However, an effort was made to minimize this danger by requiring detailed reasons for rejecting proposals and re-including ones that could be revised and made feasible. Still, proposals that were backed by informal social networks may have received undue prominence. For example a bullfighting project won funding even though a majority of the Portuguese public believes that the practice should be banned.

Reflecting on what’s been done, ready for more
It’s an exciting moment to get involved with PB. And it’s an important time to reflect on how far different regions have taken PB. While there are currently around 100 active processes in the U.S. and Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean hosts around 2,500 processes and Europe 3,500. We have some catching up to do.

Donate here to help PB grow.

You can find the original version of this announcement on the Participatory Budgeting Project’s site at www.participatorybudgeting.org/hope-for-democracy-a-new-book-reflects-on-30-years-of-participatory-budgeting/.

Moving Past Couch-Potato Democracy to Engagement

In the sixth installment of their series, democracy around the world, NCDD sponsoring member, the Jefferson Center, wrote this piece on how Americans can be more civically engaged and address our challenging issues. Many of the states in the U.S. are designed to give the people even more power to shape legislation through initiatives and referendums. The article challenges for people to push more into civic life and participate in government, especially when their elected officials are not. You can read the article below and find the original version of it on the Jefferson Center site https://jefferson-center.org/2018/09/initiate-democracy-across-the-united-states/here.


It’s Time to Initiate Democracy Across the United States

This is the sixth post in our blog series exploring democracy around the world, submitted by a diverse group of people interested in using deliberation, participation, and civic tech to solve challenges we face today. The following does not necessarily represent the views of the Jefferson Center or Jefferson Center staff.

John Hakes is a freelance writer and Certified Public Accountant who has worked with the U.S. Census Bureau and Questar Assessment Inc. He earned his Master’s Degree in Advocacy and Political Leadership from the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. – First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

In the opening blog of this series, guest blogger Ross Busch suggested a national assembly model recently employed by the country of Ireland– on an agenda of climate change leadership, aging population and abortion– might be used to address the seemingly intractable issue of gun control in the United States.

If Ireland, a nation with a centuries-long entrenched position on the sensitive abortion issue can use informed reasoning to assess the will of the people through assembly— the Busch reasoning goes– there is hope people could do likewise on other emotionally-charged issues.

We will now ‘wait ‘n see’ whether Busch’s clarion call takes root around the world. But meanwhile, in November, the twin ‘people power’ petition mechanism afforded to American citizens by the First Amendment will be exercised on the issue of gun control. That’s when Washington citizens will decide whether they wish to add parameters to the use of firearms through a vote of the people via Initiative I-1639.

The Initiative Tool

Should you call states like Hawaii, New Mexico, Iowa, North Carolina, Maryland, or around 20 others home, you may not be not familiar with the initiative process.

Unlike a referendum, where a question must come from a given jurisdiction’s legislative body, a citizen initiative is typically created when a certain number of ‘registered voter’ signatures are gathered on a question proposed to become law.  Initiatives can either be direct (where potential new law is decided on by voters) or indirect (where the affirmed petition question is handed to a Legislature for it to decide on).

The state of Washington’s citizen initiative process was enacted in 1897. The I-1639 effort began when the gun measure petition received the requisite number of signatures from across the state.  Naturally, the road from ‘obtaining a verifiable set of signatures’ to ‘Secretary of State approval’ to ‘finalized question on the November ballot’ has been met by significant counter challenges. But on August 24, 2018, a ruling of the Washington Supreme Court officially permitted the existence of the ‘gun measures’ question to be included on the November 6th ballot .

Initiative and Referendum in the U.S.

Less than half of the U.S. states allow their citizens to raise & legally install the answer to a question through the initiative process. More western than eastern states have this process in place.

At least partly due to the continually shifting voting preferences over time in a given electorate, states currently deemed ‘red’ and ‘blue’ both offer legislation-by-initiative. Washington & California are examples of so-called blue states while North Dakota and Arizona are counted among ‘red’ states that utilize initiatives.

Unsurprisingly, voter turnout in these states has historically been 5 to 7 percent higher than in states without initiative and referendum (states with one typically offer the other). The reason for this is simple: voters feel that their vote for or against a grassroots-raised issue on the ballot does make a difference.

Despite being a state that frequently leads the nation in voter turnout,  Minnesota–also well-known for possessing a strong political and civic culture–features neither an Initiative or Referendum component in its democratic procedural toolkit.

Like every other state, Minnesota does allow questions pertaining to  legislatively-referred, state constitutional amendments to be decided on by voters.  There have been three periods in which the right to decide by Initiative has been seriously considered in Minnesota, with the last push led by MN House Representative Erik Paulsen during the Jesse Ventura administration of the early 2000s.

Looking ahead

Although it’s true that social media has the power to amplify voices and mobilize people to achieve ‘a’ form of grassroots push on a given issue, such sentiments too often blow away with the wind of the next incoming news cycle.  Rather than focusing only on the  couch-potato democracy by electronic device, Americans in half of the U.S. states should exercise the legal levers they already have to permanently alter the law when their elected representatives don’t seem up to the task.

To quote the Busch piece again: “Conversations between ordinary citizens on complex topics are perhaps the greatest defense against the degradation of modern politics.”

What better way to begin stepping across the street for face-to-face conversation than to create outcomes on even an incredibly divisive issue through an Initiative provision, like approximately half of our country’s people have the legal luxury of doing?

And though founders like James Madison would likely be one to equate the Initiative process with ill-advisedly caving to the passions of the people, perhaps even our celebrated ‘Father of the Constitution’ might see the diligence and organization required of Initiative efforts as preferable to the Rule by Retweet method that regularly influences the course of events today.

Thanks to efforts like those who’ve advanced the I-1639 in Washington, political pockets of our country are arguably “deliberating, even when it’s difficult,” on important issues, as writer Ross Busch recommends.

You can find the original version of this article on The Jefferson Center site at www.jefferson-center.org/2018/09/initiate-democracy-across-the-united-states/.

Participatory Budgeting Lessons Over Last 30 Years

Participatory Budgeting has been rapidly growing across the world for the last 30 years, in all levels of government, in organizations, and in schools. There was a report released by the Hewlett Foundation and Omidyar Network on the current state of PB and its future; and NCDD member org, the Participatory Budgeting Project, recorded a webinar with the report authors, Stephanie McNulty and Brian Wampler. You can listen to the webinar in the article below and find the original on PBP’s site here.


Lessons from 30 years of a global experiment in democracy

The Hewlett Foundation and Omidyar Network recently funded a major new report on the lessons learned from 30 years of participatory budgeting (PB). In July, we hosted a webinar about the state and future of PB with report authors Stephanie McNulty and Brian Wampler.

Check out the webinar recording, slides, and key takeaways below.

We asked Stephanie and Brian about what it meant to write this report in 2018, a time of great change for PB and for democracy.

Stephanie spoke to how PB has grown since beginning in Brazil in 1989: “It’s sort of exploding, and happening all over the world in places that are very different from Brazil… It’s taking place faster than we can document and analyze.”

Brian shared about experimentation in PB happening with a variety of focus areas and in new contexts. Part of the power of PB is in how adaptable it is. Many folks experiment with how to design PB to best serve their community. And so, PB looks different in the more than 7,000 localities it exists in around the world.

“PB is probably the most widespread public policy tool to undertake what we consider democratizing democracy.”- Stephanie McNulty

In 30 years, PB has created significant impacts. Doing PB and studying it need more investment to further impact democracy. We’re still learning about the ways that PB can transform individuals and communities.

Early research suggests PB strengthens the civic attitudes and practices of participants, elected officials, and civil servants. Beyond changes at the individual level, the report documents changes at the community level. Changes at the community level include greater accountability, stronger civil society, improved transparency, and better well-being.

But, in the end, good PB doesn’t just happen; it has to be built. It requires intentional effort to ensure that PB practice lives up to its promise. It can yield benefits for those who participate in the early stages, but it takes time for those to expand to broader areas. PB is growing faster as more people learn about it’s potential. We need further research to  learn from what advocates on the ground know about PB’s impact—as well as it’s areas for improvement. The future of PB will require effort and sustained resources to support new ways of placing power in the hands of the people.

The report documents key ways PB has transformed over 30 years.

  • Scale. PB started at the municipal level in Brazil, and now exists in every level of government, and even within government agencies. PB is now being done for schools, colleges, cities, districts, states, and nations—places where people are looking for deeper democracy.
  • Secret ballots to consensus-based processes. When we spoke about what was most surprising or unexpected while writing the report, Brian talked about the shift in how communities make decisions in PB often moving from secret ballots to consensus-based processes.
  • Technology. New technologies are used for recruitment, to provide information, and to offer oversight. We don’t fully understand the benefits and limitations of this particular transformation, and look forward to more research on this question.
  • Increased donor interest. More international donors are interested in promoting and supporting PB.
  • A shift away from pro-poor roots. PB in Brazil began as a project of the Workers Party to pursue social justice and give power to marginalized communities and the disenfranchised. This is a core reason why many look to PB to solve deeply entrenched problems of inequity in the democratic process. Unfortunately today, many PB processes around the world do not have an explicit social justice goals.

We’ve learned that focusing on social justice actually makes PB work better. PB processes that seek to include traditionally marginalized voices make it easier for everyone to participate in making better decisions.

To wrap up our webinar, Laura Bacon from Omidyar Network, David Sasaki from the Hewlett Foundation, and our Co-Executive Director at PBP, Josh Lerner shared takeaways for grantmakers.

They discussed what we need to make the transformative impacts of PB be bigger and more widespread.

  • Medium and long term investment is important for PB success. One off investments don’t create the impacts of PB and can lead to a decline in quality.
  • Government support is crucial. PB works best when it complements government—not opposes it.
  • Watch out for participation fatigue. If the conditions for successful PB are not fully in place, residents and advocacy organizations can grow weary of continued involvement.
  • Funders should focus PB grantmaking in areas that have conditions in place for it to be successful. They should look at political, economic, and social contexts before funding the process.

Want more updates on the state and future of PB? Sign up for PBP’s Newsletter

You can find the original version of this article on the Participatory Budgeting Project site at www.participatorybudgeting.org/lessons-from-30-years-of-pb/.

Exciting Models of Democracy in Engaged Cities Awardees

This week, Cities of Service announced the three winners of the Engaged Cities Awards, given to the cities of Santiago de Cali, Bologna, and Tulsa. As NCDD member org Public Agenda noted in their recent piece, each of these cities offer inspiring examples of civic engagement and better models of local democracy. Sometimes democracy in the US can feel in a rut, but these cities give us innovative ways to bring better democratic practices to our own communities and more fully enrich our lives. You can read the article from PA below and find the original version here.


For Better Models of Democracy, Look to the Engaged Cities of Cali and Bologna

Both Santiago de Cali, in Colombia, and Bologna, Italy, demonstrate the power of putting citizens at the center of governance, giving them opportunities to engage that are meaningful, enjoyable, regular, and sustained.

The main problem with American democracy is that we don’t realize it can be improved. We assume that we’re stuck with the system we have, and we ignore the fact that there are other varieties of democracy already out there in the world.

Two of the three winners of the Engaged Cities Award, given by the nonprofit organization Cities of Service, illustrate some of the possibilities. Both Santiago de Cali, in Colombia, and Bologna, Italy, demonstrate the power of putting citizens at the center of governance, giving them opportunities to engage that are meaningful, enjoyable, regular, and sustained.

Not too long ago, Cali was a city plagued by violence spilling over from drug wars and civil wars. It had a homicide rate of 15 per 100,000 inhabitants. Almost a third of the population came from places other than Cali, and there were regular conflicts between people from different places and cultures. Over 60 percent of Cali residents said they didn’t trust their neighbors.

To remedy an interrelated set of problems, Cali created a comprehensive system for local engagement. As part of a strategic planning process, they created a department and council devoted to “civic culture.” They conducted a comprehensive research process, reaching 30,000 people, to take stock of the civic landscape and find out what kinds of changes people supported.

The backbone of the new system is a set of “local councils for civic culture and peace,” with one in each of Cali’s 22 neighborhoods. Unlike most neighborhood councils in the US, these councils are highly participatory and deliberative, and attract large numbers of people to their meetings and events. Each neighborhood develops a set of norms and “agreements of coexistence” to govern how they will work together. There is an explicit focus on engaging people of different “ethnic, cultural, artistic, religious and social groups.”

The councils make decisions on issues ranging from land use to waste management to environmental concerns. Neighborhoods also identify initiatives that they want to take on. The city supports these high-impact volunteering efforts with teams of professionals who help people plan, research and implement their ideas. Over 300 of those initiatives took place in the last year.

Each year, the work culminates with “Civic Culture Week,” a festival that attracts thousands of people.

The city developed a tool to measure progress called the “Diagnosis of Civic Culture.” Cali residents’ trust in their neighbors and perceptions of public safety have risen. Homicides and violent incidents are at their lowest levels in a decade.

In Bologna, a declining voter rate and increasing mistrust of government were signs of local civic decay. Rather than focusing solely on voter registration or electoral reforms, community leaders decided to be proactive about improving the relationship between residents and public institutions. The city adopted a “regulation on public collaboration between citizens and the City for the care and regeneration of urban commons” and created a new office for “civic imagination.”

To give this new vocabulary a real presence in the city, Bologna has a system of six District Labs which provide spaces for residents to develop plans, share information, make new connections and co-design collaborative projects for the improvement of the city’s physical infrastructure. The labs are considered the “antennae” of the neighborhoods, relaying ideas and concerns within the new engagement system.

In the last five years, 508 collaborative proposals have been developed and 357 have been implemented, with over 1,700 citizens participating in district meetings in the last year alone. The spinoff “Incredibol!” initiative, which called for the support of creative industries by allowing the re-use of public spaces to develop entrepreneurial projects, received 621 proposals, nominated 96 winners and assigned sixteen public spaces.

Alongside the district labs, Bologna has launched a citywide participatory budgeting process that also has engaged thousands of people. The city also uses a range of online tools, including direct emails, social media and a “Comunità” website to facilitate information-sharing and networking within and across districts.

A secret to the success of both Cali and Bologna is that, in those cities, engagement is fun. The Cali system capitalizes on the “recovery of streets and parks, murals, photographic exhibitions, soccer tournaments, gastronomic shows and festivals.” Bologna’s application for the Engaged Cities Award featured the roles played by artists, kindergarteners and cyclists.

Beyond the fun factor, local democracy in Cali and Bologna seems more vibrant because engagement in both cities is sustained and systemic, with a wide variety of opportunities for people to participate.

The third winner of the Engaged Cities Award, the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, demonstrates another way to encourage and capitalize on citizen engagement. By creating a team of Urban Data Pioneers, they tapped the tech skills of people inside and outside City Hall. Through a range of new tools and apps, they are identifying and solving problems ranging from traffic incidents to blight.

A great virtue of the Engaged Cities Award, and the role played by Cities of Service in organizing it, is that it provides stories from near and far for spurring our civic imagination. If we are dissatisfied with the state of our democracy, there are inspiring examples to look to elsewhere, and many ways of improving public decision-making, problem-solving and community-building.

You can find the original version of this blog post from Public Agenda at www.publicagenda.org/blogs/for-better-models-of-democracy-look-to-the-engaged-cities-of-cali-and-bologna.

Register for the 2018 Summer Peacebuilding Institute

In case you missed it, the Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI) is happening now! This phenomenal program offered by NCDD member org, the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University is an opportunity to learn from leaders in the D&D field about conflict transformation and restorative justice. Courses can be taken to improve your skills or for academic credit (and they now offer an M.A. in Restorative Justice program).  Session 1 has already begun, but the remaining sessions are going until the end of June – so check it out ASAP (or prep for next year!). Below are the list of courses offered for 2018, and you can read more about the courses and SPI here


Summer Peacebuilding Institute 2018

The Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI) provides useful and intellectually stimulating opportunities to learn more about yourself, others and the world around you. Courses are designed for people interested in integrating conflict transformation, peacebuilding, restorative justice, and related fields into their own work and personal life.

SPI 2018 Course Offerings
Session I – May 14 – 22, 2018 (7-day, 3-credit)
Session II – May 24 – June 1, 2018 (7-day, 3-credit)
Session III – June 4 – 8, 2018 (5-day, 2-credit)
Session IV – June 11 – 15, 2018 (5-day, 2-credit)
Session V – June 18 -20, 2018 (3-day, non-credit workshops)

Only one course may be taken per session. All courses can be taken for training and skills enhancement or academic credit. Session 1 and 2 courses may be taken for three academic credits. Session 3 and 4 courses may be taken for two academic credits.  Courses with PAX/PTI can be taken for academic credit or training. Courses with PTI can only be taken for training. Contact SPI for more information.

If you have questions about a particular course that are not answered in the information below, please feel free to contact the SPI office at spi[at]emu[dot]edu.

SESSION I: May 14 – 22, 2018
Analysis: Understanding Conflict – PAX/PTI 533, Gloria Rhodes
Explore the nature, dynamics, and complex causes of conflict and violence. Discuss how relationships, motivations, culture, and worldviews increase or decrease violent conflict. Learn ways to understand and change multifaceted systems that perpetuate conflict.

Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR), Level II – PAX/PTI 640, Katie Mansfield and Lisa Collins
Review and deepen the concepts from STAR Level 1. Work with trainers and other participants to plan your application and contextualization of STAR frameworks, models, concepts, and activities.

Transformative Leadership for Organizational Development – PAX/PTI 684, David Brubaker and Elizabeth Girvan
Focus on the role of leaders in leading organizational and social change and managing structures, personnel, finances, and external networks and partnerships.

Forgiveness & Reconciliation – PAX/PTI 563, Hizkias Assefa
Explore the concepts of forgiveness and reconciliation from multidisciplinary perspectives and understand how they can be used to generate durable solutions and healing at many levels of conflict from the interpersonal to the international.

Modern Slavery and the Prison-Industrial Complex – PAX/PTI 685, Monti Narayan Datta
Critically assess what human rights are, explore how and why it is still possible for human beings to be bought and sold around the world today, and investigate inequality in the American prison system.

SESSION II: May 24 – June 1, 2018
Formation for Peacebuilding Practice – PAX/PTI 532, Gloria Rhodes
Explore various competencies needed by those who feel compelled to work for peace and social justice. Strengthen your abilities to listen and communicate, create and maintain healthy boundaries, recognize and promote diversity, lead from your vision and values, and engage people in dialogue and decision-making.

Restorative Justice: Principles, Theories & Applications– PAX/PTI 571, Carl Stauffer
Deepen your understanding of justice. Explore a justice framework that focuses on healing, accountability, and community, not blame, punishment, and isolation.

Adaptive Action: Nonviolent Resistance in the 21st Century – PAX/PTI 645, Glenda Eoyang, John N. Murray and Mary Nations
Transform oppression into opportunity. Learn to effectively engage in a chaotic and uncertain political and social world. Analyze the dynamics that drive complex change in human systems and find practical ways to respond to forces that oppress.

Sexual Harms: Changing the Narrative – PAX/PTI 692, Carolyn Stauffer
Join the wave of leaders committed to creating environments free from sexual harm. Gain tools to respond to sexual violence and learn about preventative best practices. Design restorative interventions that build safety and resilience.

Circle Processes PAX/PTI 672, Kay Pranis
Gain skills to lead a process that brings together victims, offenders, family, community members, and others to have difficult conversations and respond to acts of violence or crime. Explore the foundational values and key structural elements of the circle process and learn to design and conduct circles.

Biblical Foundations of Justice and Peacemaking – BVG 541, Andrew Suderman
More than a study of a few select texts that deal with peacemaking, this course will explore and examine the various dimensions of peace in the Bible, with special attention to how the Bible as a whole, functions as a foundation for peacemaking. This course is being offered through Eastern Mennonite Seminary. To register as a non-seminary student use this part-time application.

SESSION III: June 4-8, 2018
Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR), Level 1 –PAX 540/PTI 041, Donna Minter and Ram Bhagat
Explore processes and tools for addressing trauma, breaking cycles of violence, and building resilience. Increase awareness of the impact of trauma on the body, mind, beliefs, and behavior of individuals, communities, and societies.

Truth-telling, Racial Healing and Restorative Justice – PAX/PTI 671, Fania Davis, Jodie Geddes and Lenore Bajare-Dukes
Explore linkages between truth, justice, and healing at personal and collective levels in the wake of violence. Discuss informal and formal approaches to truth-telling, restorative justice and reconciliation from around the world. Consider future applications of truth-telling amidst ongoing police violence against communities of color in the US.

Christian Spirituality for Social Action – PAX/PTI 688, Jennifer Lee and Johonna Turner
Explore Christian spiritual formation practices to nurture and sustain a life of community leadership, engaged ministry, and social activism. Expand awareness of spiritual disciplines as well as biblical and theological resources to support a faith-rooted approach to social action.

SESSION IV: June 11-15, 2018
The Transformative Power of Identity and Dignity – PAX/PTI 551, Barry Hart
Understand the positive and negative roles and transformative power of identity and dignity within complex conflicts, violence, and trauma.

Building Resilience in Body, Mind, and Spirit – PAX/PTI 612, Katie Mansfield and Katia Ornelas
Taking the body-mind connection seriously, peacebuilders, caregivers and change makers need full-bodied, creative engagement in activities for self-care and well-being. Explore strategies, tools, and exercises for individual participants and communities/organizations to cultivate safety, healthy uses of power, and a deeper sense of connection. Discuss cultural contexts, taboos, stereotypes, and biases that keep us from integrating creative, embodied practice into work for social change and peace.

Peace Education – PAX/PTI 546, Ed Brantmeier
Discuss the education that is needed for the elimination of direct and indirect forms of violence. Explore strategies to reduce violence such as bullying, implicit bias, ethnocentrism, physical fights, or institutional discrimination in schools, the workplace, and the community.

Designing Facilitated Processes that Work – PAX/PTI 689, Catherine Barnes
Do you ever think you need to go beyond basic meeting facilitation to design processes that will help groups address challenging situations, deal with differences and envision a better future? This class is intended for people with some experience of facilitation who want to take their skills to the next level through using context analysis, process design principles, and more conducive process methods.

Story-gathering: Participatory theatre for facilitation and empowerment – PAX/PTI 691, Heidi Winters Vogel and Roger Foster
Develop fluency in participatory theatre techniques for use in mediation, intervention and group facilitation to promote participant-generated change.

SESSION V: June 18-20, 2018
Restorative Justice in Higher Education – PTI 080 E, Jon Swartz and Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz
How is the restorative justice approach being used in the context of education settings for accountability, repair, and healing?

Resisting the White Savior Complex in Social Justice Organizing – PTI 081 E, Amanda Gross and Cole Parke
What do well-intentioned white people need to understand about the harm, violence, and insidiousness of racism? Exploration of a theological basis for anti-racism work.

Crime Victims, Survivors, and Restorative Justice – PTI 082 E, Matthew Hartman
Explore the intersection between trauma, recovery, victim assistance, and restorative justice. Develop programming strategies that orient toward the needs of crime victims and survivors.

Developing Integrated Conflict Management Systems – PTI 083 E, Brian Bloch
Learn to create a system and culture that collaborative addresses conflict and the practical steps an organization can use to put this system in place.

Performance Arts: Developing Sustainable Resources for Community Learning & Action – PTI 084 E, Heidi Winters Vogel and Roger Foster
Learn to assess and evaluate performance-based community engagement programs to strengthen them and make them more attractive to funders.

Singing to the Lions: Helping Children Respond Effectively to Violence and Abuse – PTI 085 E, Lucy Steinitz and Naoko Kamiok
Training of trainers to learn the use of games, drama, dance, and art to help trauma-affected children and young adults overcome fear and violence in their lives.

You can find more information on these courses and the Summer Peacebuilding Institute at www.emu.edu/cjp/spi/.