Last Wednesday night, over 30 Budget Delegates and 16 City staff from 8 departments met for a Participatory Budgeting "speed consulting" session in City Hall's Sullivan Chamber.
Over the course of an hour and a half, Budget Delegates from the 'Bridge Builders; Health, Environment & Safety; Parks & Recreation; and Streetsmarts Committees moved around the room to talk about PB ideas with staff from the Community Development, Electrical, Executive, IT, Human Services, Library, Public Works, and Traffic Departments.
Last week, Budget Delegates on the 'Bridge Builders (Culture & Community Facilities); Health, Environment & Safety; Parks & Recreation; and Streetsmarts Committees came together for their first official meetings. Each will meet on a different night of the week, with other committee members doing research remotely or conducting site visits during the day.
After getting to know each other and establishing ground rules and shared expectations for the proposal development work ahead, Budget Delegates started reading through their idea lists to get more familiar with the variety of projects that fall within their purviews. Each committee used notecards with individual ideas written on them to discuss projects and divide them into subgroups, as the 'Bridge Builders are doing in the photo above.
This week, Budget Delegates will continue initial research of the projects in their subgroup and will prepare questions to ask City staff at the first Department "speed consulting" session on September 7 at City Hall.
Last week, over 50 volunteer Budget Delegates met for the first time at Budget Delegate Orientation at the Central Square Library. There was great energy and enthusiasm in the room as they got to know each other through a high stakes game of bingo, learned more about the proposal development phase, and chose the committee they will work on this fall.
Their job over the next few months is to research all 548 ideas submitted by community members in June and July and distill and develop them into the final 20 proposals that will appear on the PB ballot in December.Read more
Nine second and third grade students from Ms. Leonard's summer school class at Fletcher Maynard Academy strode confidently into City Hall this morning to present their PB ideas to City staff from the Budget Office and the City Manager's Office.
Working in groups with their teacher's guidance, they developed three proposals about how they would spend $700,000 to improve Cambridge. The first discussed cleaning up T stations across the city, the second proposed building a 10,000 sq. ft. shelter for the homeless, and the third sought to build a public swimming pool in Greene Rose Heritage Park.Read more
The new PB bike repair station at Riverside City Park
In early July, the Community Development Department installed three bike repair stations in Riverside City Park, Porter Square, and Inman Square. They will install the remaining 5 over the next few weeks. City staff ended up testing and choosing this new model of bike repair stations after Budget Delegates brought it to their attention.
The new bike repair stations feature a pump with a gauge as well as retractable tools on stainless steel cables, including screwdrivers, tire levers, a headset/pedal wrench, cone wrenches, and a hex key set. Unsure how to use these items? Use your cell phone to scan the QR code on the bike repair station to look up instructions.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.
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:
- Cambridge Prepared Food Rescue Freezer Van ($48,000)
- Separate Bike Lanes from Traffic ($50,000)
- 5 Water Bottle Refill Stations ($40,000)
- Make Massachusetts Avenue Safer for Bikers ($70,000)
- Shape Up Our Squares! ($40,000)
- Faster, Better #1 Bus for Cambridge ($250,000)
- New Chairs for Cambridge Public Schools! ($102,000)
The breakdown of votes was as follows: