It’s that time of year again — where democracy gets hyper-local, giving neighbors a chance create projects and then vote on how public money is spent in their council district.
Participatory budgeting, a city program that allows residents to directly vote on $1 million to $1.5 million in projects developed by residents, has been growing in popularity since the program began five years ago.
Last year, tens of thousands of New Yorkers voted on how to spend public dollars — attracting the highest voter turnout yet. Check out last year’s winning projects here.
And this year, with the addition of online voting and a recent spike in community board applications, voter turnout could shoot through the roof.
Here’s how it works:
For 2017, ten Brooklyn city council members have opted to participate, (is your district included? check out the full list here.) And thanks to demands from Ditmas Park residents, Council Member Mathieu Eugene (District 40) will also be participating for the second year.
Neighbors who live in Midwood, Flatbush, and Flatlands — or Jumaane Williams’ 45th Council District — can see the range of projects on display tonight at the PB Project Expo, held at the Flatbush YMCA from 6pm–8pm. One of the top projects, which has garnered a ton of community support, is a schoolyard and playground renovation at P.S. 152/P.S. 315 on Bedford Avenue.
Many of the projects revolve around education, green space, arts, and housing. The projects are proposed by neighbors and community leaders who can see directly what needs improving block-by-block. “There’s this sense of urgency to make our neighborhoods more livable and help people connect to nature,” said Susannah Laskaris, one of the project leaders.
For neighbors who live in Park Slope, Kensington, Windsor Terrace, and Carroll Gardens (Brad Lander’s district), check out a sample ballot of 2017 projects here.
You can cast your votes from March 25 to April 2 on how to use $1 million in capital discretionary funding for projects in the area.
Check out some FAQs below, or browse the full PB rulebook here.
Who can vote?
Anyone who lives in the district and is at least 14 years old.
How can I vote?
For the first time, the Participatory Budgeting Project launched digital voting, which means that you can now vote for your District’s projects online or in-person at any PBNYC vote site in Districts throughout the city.
How else can I pitch in?
Volunteering is a great way to get involved, attend a volunteer training session tomorrow, March 21 from 6:30pm–8pm at the Brooklyn Public Library Central Branch — RSVP here.
Stay tuned for our coverage of the Flatbush Project Expo, ballot lists for each district, and where to vote later this week.