Participatory budgeting is a process in which community members come together to decide how a public budget should be spent. It happens in cities and towns large and small — from New York City to Hinton, Alberta. It’s also spreading rapidly across high schools and universities.
At the core of this process is the need for a large number of people to weigh in on proposed spending initiatives, given a set of financial or other constraints. If you think that this sounds like the perfect application for Ethelo, you’re right.
Ethelo founder and CEO John Richardson recently presented at the Innovations in Participatory Democracy conference, organized by the Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP). His presentation was attended by about 30 government representatives from around the world who are interested in trying participatory budgeting or other aspects of direct democracy with their constituents.
The PBP was founded in 2009, but the concept of participatory budgeting has been around since 1989. The process, while well developed and tested, is still very manual and labor intensive. It takes a long time to produce results and requires people to participate in person, which decreases turnout and increases cost.
Several organizations took up Ethelo on it’s offer of a free license for leading participatory budgeting initiatives. Youth in Kenya will be using it. Students at City University in New York will use it. And so will the Participatory Budgeting Project itself. PBP can incorporate Ethelo into the toolkit that it puts together for local governments and other organizations that want to engage in the participatory budgeting process.
Ethelo will allow participatory budgeting to move online, and allow for costs to be considered as one of many constraints in a larger planning process. The platform can be customized for each city’s unique challenges and tailored to its population.
Participatory budgeting representative democracy at its finest, and it’s about to enter the 21st-century thanks to Ethelo. We look forward to sharing more about this partnership as it develops.
For more information, watch this overview of how Ethelo can be used in participatory budgeting process: