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Community Forum Report

In 2018 we co-hosted a community forum with Healthy Democracy and the Rosewood Initiative entitled "Bringing Participatory Budgeting to the Portland-Region." This report summaries the forum and its recommendations to local governments for implementing participatory budgeting in the Portland-Metro region.


I. Process Design

1. Clearly define the primary goals and objectives for a PB process. Preferred goals were:

  • Social inclusion and social justice

  • Transparency and accountability

  • Civic education and leadership development

  • Fostering community, trust, and democratic deliberation

2. Provide adequate funding for

  • Staff time for outreach and engagement.

  • implementation and administration.

  • Translation, interpretation, transportation, or other needs to reduce or eliminate barriers to participation by the least served and least represented communities.

  • Capacity building in underserved and underrepresented communities and organizations that can help make PB a success long-term.

3. Make participatory budgeting fun. Incorporate game design into PB design to make participation more fun, engaging, inclusive, fair and transparent.

II. Implementation

  1. Start small and build on success through an effective pilot PB process.

  2. Follow Greensboro's example, by enlisting private foundations to help fund initial "start-up" implementation costs.

  3. Don’t do a one-off process. Commit to at least 3 cycles to allow for learning by both the community members and local government staff.

  4. Fully evaluate PB processes to learn and improve over time.​


III. Support & Training for staff and participants

  1. Follow Seattle's lead in establishing a paid steering committee that resources the time and expertise of individuals, especially those from underserved and underrepresented communities.

  2. Provide PB training for elected officials, local government staff, steering committee members, and representative community leaders.

  3. Explore the use and development of “budget stimulator”, as in Greensboro, North Carolina, to link PB to the larger municipal budgeting process.​

IV. Community Engagement

  1. Enlist the full diversity of the community in designing a pilot PB process that prioritizes equity and inclusion.

  2. Sustainably fund and center PB processes on vulnerable, underserved or underrepresented communities.

  3. Create a PB process is that is open and welcoming to community members (e.g. students, non-citizens, and others) who are currently ineligible to vote in elections.​

V. Possible Focuses

  1. Consider models in Seattle, Boston, and Phoenix that started PB with youth or students.

  2. Focus it on a specific high need district or a particular sub-population (e.g. youth).

  3. Use the pilot PB process to allocate discretionary funds with fewer policy or legal constraints on potential outcomes.

  4. Use PB to build skills and knowledge in vulnerable, underserved or under-represented communities before scaling PB processes up to the entire population.

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