Tough budget choices? Ask an everyday citizen

Tough budget choices? Ask an everyday citizen

Could you and your neighbors make smarter budget decisions than your elected officials? A Brown sociologist is leading a real-life trial of just such a process in a Chicago ward.

By Alison Fairbrother ’09 | May 22, 2009 |

An experiment in democracy is brewing in Chicago’s 49th Ward. The neighborhood is vying to become the first community in the United States to use participatory budgeting, in which residents directly decide how to spend public money, to allocate its municipal funds. It is an experiment that imports concepts developed as far away as Brazil. And it takes on added significance as federal, state, and local officials across the country face greater public scrutiny in allocating federal stimulus funds and scarce budget dollars. Gianpaolo Baiocchi leads a workshop on participatory budgeting in Chicago. Continue reading