Collecting Ideas and Learning From Each Other


By Outreach Committee member Chris Featherman

The Participatory Budgeting Outreach Committee has been out and about in Cambridge gathering residents’ ideas. Since the idea collection phase began on June 1st, Committee members have sponsored tables at the Cambridge River Festival, Fresh Pond Day, and a Cambridge Youth Soccer tournament in Danehy Park.

This Saturday, June 18th, you can find them at Hoops ’N’ Health, an annual sports tournament and health fair held at Hoyt Field. Throughout June and July, members will also be discussing PB in Cambridge Public Library branches as well as youth and senior centers across the city. Through outreach this summer, the Committee hopes to get as much participation in the PB vote this fall.

Beyond spreading the word, outreach also means listening and learning. As a volunteer committee member, I have found collecting PB ideas to be a great way to discover what matters to Cambridge residents and how they see the city.

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New Outreach Committee Kicks Off Third PB Cycle


By Outreach Committee member Chris Featherman

The Cambridge Participatory Budgeting (PB) Outreach Committee held its first meeting of the new PB cycle on May 24, 2016, at the Central Square Branch of the Cambridge Public Library. Led by Michelle Monsegur, City Budget Analyst, volunteers shared strategies for collecting ideas from residents for the City’s third PB process, in which community members will decide how to spend $700,000 of the City's capital budget.

Ideas are for one-time capital projects on City property that will benefit the public. Committee members hope to gather ideas from diverse participants during idea collection phase, which runs from June 1st to July 31st. Last year, 540 ideas were submitted, and 4,184 Cambridge residents age 12 and older voted, a 53% increase over the first cycle. “Nearly 4,200 votes is great,” said Monsegur, “but in a city of over 100,000 residents, I’d like to add a zero to that total." That's where the Outreach Committee comes in. 

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Participatory Budgeting Internship

Are you interested in city government, civic engagement, and community building? If so, help us launch the third PB cycle in Cambridge! 

The City's Budget Office seeks an undergraduate junior/senior or a graduate student to work as a summer intern during June, July, and August to support idea collection, Budget Delegate recruitment, and outreach efforts. This is a paid position. For more details, please see the job description or read below.

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Community Learning Center Students Reflect on PB2

During this last PB cycle, many students at the Community Learning Center (CLC) submitted ideas about how to use the $600,000 to improve the community.  Later in the fall, they learned about the 23 projects on the ballot, debating the merits of each and discussing their favorites with teachers and classmates. 

In early December 2015, dozens of CLC students cast their ballots in English, Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Spanish to decide which PB projects would ultimately win funding. Many also attended the PB Results Party on December 17th to hear which projects won and to celebrate with other community members.

Please read the essays below from five level 4 ESOL students to learn about their PB experiences and reflections.

PB2 Vote Results: 7 Winning Projects

4,184 Cambridge residents age 12 and older voted in the City's second Participatory Budgeting process - a 53% increase over the first process! 

This time, 7 projects won funding:

  1. Cambridge Prepared Food Rescue Freezer Van ($48,000)
  2. Separate Bike Lanes from Traffic ($50,000)
  3. 5 Water Bottle Refill Stations ($40,000)
  4. Make Massachusetts Avenue Safer for Bikers ($70,000)
  5. Shape Up Our Squares! ($40,000)
  6. Faster, Better #1 Bus for Cambridge ($250,000)
  7. New Chairs for Cambridge Public Schools! ($102,000)

 The breakdown of votes was as follows:



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Over 4,000 People Voted in the Second PB Vote!


Over 4,000 Cambridge residents voted in the City's second Participatory Budgeting vote December 5-12, 2015! 

Want to find out which projects won?  Once we finish tallying all of the ballots, we'll announce the results at a party at the Citywide Senior Center on Thursday, December 17 from 7-8pm.  Please join us! 


Vote Kickoff - Saturday 12/5 @ CambridgeSide Galleria Mall


Above: Steering Committee members fold ballots to prepare for vote week 

It's finally here!  Cambridge's second Participatory Budgeting vote kicks off on Saturday, December 5, 2015.  

Please join us tomorrow at the CambridgeSide Galleria near the food court between 12-4pm to talk with Budget Delegates, check out the poster displays they made for each project on the ballot, and vote for your favorite PB initiatives!


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Watch our PB Vote Video

To watch this video with English subtitles, please click here.  Se puede ver el vídeo con subtítulos en español aquí.

Read about the Projects on the Ballot!

From December 5-12, 2015, Cambridge residents who are 12 and older will be able to vote for up to 6 of the 23 creative and interesting projects on this year's Participatory Budgeting ballot

Since ballot space is limited, the ballot will only contain the title, cost, location, and short description for each of the 23 projects. 

To read the full project proposals (which include longer descriptions and images), please click here to download the PDF

Which projects will you choose? How would you spend $600,000 to improve Cambridge?


Community Learning Center Laptops Have Arrived!


Last week, 21 laptops purchased with Participatory Budgeting funds arrived at the Community Learning Center (CLC).  This is the first project from the City's pilot PB process to be completed. 

The CLC helps adults improve their lives and increase their community participation through free educational programs and services, which include English language classes; reading, writing, and math classes; preparation for High School Equivalency examinations, college or training programs, and the U.S. citizenship test; career counseling; tutoring; and basic computer instruction. 

CLC students and teachers will be able to use these laptops as part of classroom activities, to research local resources and job opportunities, to learn about the projects on the ballot in the upcoming PB vote, and of course to vote for their favorite PB projects between December 5-12!