Participatory Budgeting in Vallejo

(Washington, DC) Alana Samuels has a great Atlantic piece about Participatory Budgeting in the California City of Vallejo. Participatory Budgeting is an important democratic innovation with lots of potential, and Samuels movingly describes residents of Vallejo working hard to allocate city funds even on “the second-to-last night of the World Series, when the region’s beloved San Francisco Giants could have clinched the series.” (Compare my narrative of youth working hard on PB in Boston.) But hers is also a cautionary tale about enlisting people in small-scale democratic practices while large-scale systems–such as state budgets–go very much against their wishes. Frustration ensues.

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About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.