As part of our Trellis Crew we stipend young people to attend and report on community meetings, in an attempt to encourage them to be visible, present, active and an important part of our communities. It also provides a visible and ongoing reminder to leaders of the need for youth voices.
Recently one of our crew members attended their local Participatory Budget outreach meeting and had this to say…
At the Participatory Budgeting meeting, we brainstormed about different parts of District 15 needed improvement. The majority of the people that were at the meeting there, lived in the neighborhood of Carroll Gardens and have been going to Participatory Budgeting meetings since they started eight years ago.
Participatory Budgeting is a way to get the people of the community to cast an idea, vote for it and using taxes, citizens pay the government to fund for the project. It’s important that the community plays a big role in helping because who knows the community better than the people that live there.
Some examples I saw when first entering was that they helped get the estimated times on the bus stops for the B67 and B63 [local bus routes] and they helped kindergarten classrooms get sinks and toilets in their rooms. I found this interesting because the government allows citizens to vote for their money to go somewhere beneficial to the community and because the citizens want it. An idea that I proposed while brainstorming in groups was that having a mentorship in P.S. 32 [a neighborhood public school] because the majority of the kids live in Gowanus [a public housing residence in the community] I want the Gowanus community to rebuild and since we don’t have a community center P.S 32 would be ideal. Mentoring, tutoring, and babysitting because most kids are in after-school don’t do homework or parents pay for a sitter after school. Also, another idea was that to implement lights in Prospect Park because of the security issue since the park is so big and has no lights, hopefully making the park safer.
Being at the PB meeting allowed me to listen to my neighbors concerns in the community and what we can do to help it. It also gave me a sense of power in speaking out and making others aware of my vision for my community.
Anaya Lino-Suazo is a 12th grade student a Brooklyn Prospect Charter School and is an active member of the Trellis Crew
Participatory Budgeting is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. It's grassroots democracy at its best. It helps make budget decisions clear and accessible. It gives real power to people who have never before been involved in the political process.
You can find out more if your district is a part of participatory budgeting HERE