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What starts in PB doesn't always end in PB

Participatory Budgeting update from Neil Reilly, District 39 District Committee Member and former Transit Committee Delegate

Through patience and persistence, bringing real change to our neighborhoods is possible through Participatory Budgeting—even when a project doesn’t fit the budget or scope of PB!

As a budget delegate serving on the Transit Committee last year—the first year of PB in New York—I spearheaded a project to improve the subway stations in the district. I compiled the suggestions submitted by district residents for improvements at all of the F/G stations from Church Avenue through Bergen St, as well as the R station at 4th Avenue/9th Street. The suggestions ranged from improving lighting to repairing track tiles to repainting the ceilings.

The Participation Doesn't End at the Vote

Participatory Budgeting Update from Alix Fellman of the District 39 Parks & Recreation Committee

This time last year the people of our district came together for our first Participatory Budgeting vote, and selected seven projects to improve our community. One of the winning projects (the one I worked on) proposed to plant 100 trees on the most barren streets of our neighborhoods.

Over the past year the volunteer budget delegates from our district have been working with Parks Department staff and Councilmember Lander to get the trees off the drawing board and onto our streets. In the past month things have moved forward quickly, showing that the participation doesn't stop at the ballot box. We have been able to stay involved with implementing the project, making sure that the community’s vision is represented in the final product.

Behind the Scenes of Participatory Budgeting in District 39

By Rachel Fine of the Participatory Budgeting District Committee in District 39 

As a District Committee member, I have been focusing on getting the word out about participatory budgeting and engaging our district’s diverse communities in this process. Although the past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity getting ready for the neighborhood assemblies, our outreach efforts have targeted a number of communities.

One of the main goals this year is to increase youth participation. We are hosting youth breakout sessions at each of the neighborhood assemblies, beefing up our social media presence, encouraging youth to be budget delegates, and spreading the word to students and young people about all of these great opportunities to get involved! In addition to engaging youth, we wanted to host mini-assemblies at local neighborhood spots (e.g. popular bars, coffee shops, churches) and a Spanish-speaking assembly to reach folks who otherwise might not have heard about it. I really wanted to host one at Ginger's, the local lesbian bar, but that idea will have to wait until next year since our calendars were filling up with various events such as hosting mini assemblies, phone banking, and canvassing.

My main focus has been organizing phone banks to invite residents to the neighborhood assemblies. Our strategy was to set up a series of phone banks at people's homes. We organized one phone bank per neighborhood and invited anyone who wanted to help out. I realized phone banking is not easy and it was tough to find enough volunteers; however, the ones we did find were awesome! Fortunately, the anxiety of contacting people over the phone turned out to be totally unfounded. Everyone we talked to were receptive and thrilled to hear that participatory budgeting was happening again.

Participatory Budgeting – Turning Your Ideas Into Projects

Participatory Budgeting update from Michael Fettman of the Streets & Sidewalks Committee:

What a great feeling. After weeks and months of meetings and learning about the Participatory Budgeting process, going through so many ideas submitted by our friends and neighbors, and learning all about how to maneuver and comply with all the government bureaucracies, we finally got to the point of putting the finishing touches on to the proposals that we are ready to submit for review. Soon, our neighbors will get to give us their input on our proposals, which will be put up for a vote in March to decide which ones will get funded.

PB Committee Tackles Flooding at Subway Station

Participatory Budgeting update from Tracy Turner of the Transit Committee:

We were delighted to hear the announcement from Catherine Zinnel of Councilmember Brad Lander’s office that they were able to get various city agencies (Department of Parks, Sanitation, and Environmental Protection) to commit to cleaning up the area outside the Ft. Hamilton F/G subway entrance. We applaud the great strides that Councilmember Lander’s office has made with this recent announcement. This is indeed a triumph!

Budget delegates for the Parks and Recreation committee get real

Participatory Budgeting update from JC Martinez-Sifre of the Parks and Recreation Committee:

The reality is beginning to set in for budget delegates engaged in Councilmember Brad Lander's initiative to make participatory budgeting a functional reality in his district.

“I think we’re all beginning to understand how big a process this is going to be,” said Budget Delegate, Michael Hickey of Kensington. The delegates, if they weren't already aware, are coming to understand that this is not going to be a brief exercise in spending a million dollars of public funds.

Participatory Budgeting Transit Committee Seeks Best Projects for Scarce Funds

Participatory Budgeting update from Sara Nordmann of the Transit Committee:

The Transit Committee of District 39‘s Participatory Budgeting Initiative met on Nov. 16th at PS 230 for our first real gathering as a group.

That evening, Bill Henderson, the Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee (PCAC) to the MTA, discussed with us the feasibility issues concerning the project proposals submitted during the community-meeting process. He emphasized that even small projects cost much, much more than us regular folks would expect, particularly when they involve interrupting regular transit service.

Committee Using Participatory Budgeting to Address Public Safety

Participatory Budgeting update from Rachel Fine of the Public Safety, Public Health, and Sanitation Committee:

The first meeting of the Public Safety, Public Health, and Sanitation Committee was a huge success. Our group is the smallest of all of the committees, but boy are we mighty!

Our group consists of individuals of all different ages, backgrounds, and parts of District 39. But despite (or perhaps because of?) our many differences, we worked incredibly well together and made some huge strides forward at our first meeting.

Participatory Budgeting delegate committees get to work

Participatory Budgeting update from Maggie Tobin of the 39th District Streets & Sidewalks Committee:

Monday evening, November 6th, the budget delegates from the 39th District all met at P.S. 230 in Kensington to kick off the long and arduous (but truly fun and fascinating!) process of deciding how we would like to spend a million dollars from Councilmember Brad Lander’s discretionary funds in our collective community. It was a very interesting evening, especially because I met so many new people from all over the district, each with wonderful ideas on how we can improve our neighborhoods.

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