Participatory budgeting has come a long way from Porto Alegre, Brazil, circa 1989. Today, more than 1,500 cities around the world have implemented the PB process, including San Francisco, California; Chicago, Illinois; Toronto, Ontario; Vallejo, California; and New York City, New York. 

In a nutshell, PB allows citizens to suggest, formulate, vote on, and implement projects within their own communities. It's a way to educate and engage people at a grassroots, truly democratic level. So far, more than 60 PB projects — things like bike lanes, community gardens, street lights, and playgrounds — have received over $10 million in funding.

Though Shareable has covered a lot of PB ground, one of the main hubs for the model in North America is the Participatory Budgeting Project. Meerkat Media, the producers of PBP's new video, has submitted the piece to the MacArthur Foundation's Looking@Democracy contest. You can vote to help the PB movement win some of the $100,000 in prizes. The intro video was a priority result of the PBP's own internal participatory budgeting process.

Re-Inventing Democracy Through Participatory Budgeting from meerkatmedia on Vimeo.

Learn more about the participatory budgeting details and how to get the PB ball rolling in your city.

Kelly McCartney


Kelly McCartney |

Having won prestigious literary competitions in both grade school and junior high, I attended college with a Scripps Howard Foundation scholarship, earned a BA in Journalism, and interned at Entertainment

Things I share: I seek. I write. I think. I roam. I listen. I care. I wonder. I help. I flirt. I try. I dream. I grow.