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One Good Participatory Budget Deserves Another in 49th Ward

By Chuck Sudo in News on Dec 7, 2010 8:40PM

Photo by Swanksalot.

Earlier this year 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore opened up hearings to his constituency on how to best spend $1.3 million in funding for infrastructure improvements. So-called participatory budgets have been around for years in South America, but the 49th Ward was the first place in the United States to try this out.

Filmmaker and 49th Ward resident Ines Sommer said that it seemed "idealistic" on the surface, but residents warmed up to the idea simply because they were asked to voice their opinions. It appears that the experiment worked so well that the 49th Ward is set to repeat it.

The obvious benefit to this process is the empowerment 4th Ward residents feel in being able to have their voices be heard somewhere besides the ballot box. By opening the participation beyond registered voters, many young potential future voters got their first taste of the democratic process.