PB Spotlight: Meet Steering Committee Member Mina Makarious


By PB Steering Committee member Karen Cuenca

In June 2015, the 24 members of the Steering Committee met for the first time to start their work overseeing Cambridge’s second Participatory Budgeting (PB) process. Mina Makarious, a Cambridge resident of five years, is serving on the Steering Committee for the second time. A municipal lawyer, Makarious was drawn to the opportunity to become more involved with his city through an innovative democratic process.

In the first PB cycle, the City of Cambridge and the Steering Committee were guided by The Participatory Budgeting Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping communities build participatory budgeting processes. According to Makarious, the first PB cycle was about learning what other cities had implemented and working together to shape the process for Cambridge. Among the initial decisions the Steering Committee made was to set the minimum voting age at 12 years old to encourage community members to become civically active from an early age. This year, Makarious notes that the City is “more independent” and is making the PB process its own.

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Environment, Health & Safety Committee Meeting on 9/22


On Tuesday night, Budget Delegates from the Environment, Health & Safety Committee met to review feedback they received from City staff the week before and to start planning further research and site visits. This committee has an interesting list of 142 ideas to consider. Projects range from drinking fountains to butterfly gardens to ideas to address homelessness in Cambridge.

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Speed Dating with Department Staff

On Monday night, a crowd of Budget Delegates gathered in the Sullivan Chamber at City Hall to meet with department representatives for the first time. 

City staff from the Arts Council, Community Development, Conservation Commission, Electrical, Human Services, IT, Library, Open Space Committee/Executive, Public Works, and Traffic, Parking & Transportation departments were stationed at different tables around the room.

Angela, one of our Budget Analysts, commented, "This looks like department speed dating."

Essentially, it was.


Above: Budget Delegates meet with representatives from the Open Space Committee/Executive and the Conservation Commission.

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Read the Budget Delegate Guide

After attending orientation on September 3, Budget Delegates are already hard at work delving into proposal development. 

Curious to learn more about what they'll be doing between now and the vote in December? Take a look through the Budget Delegate Guide.


New Idea Collection Record: 540 Ideas!

During idea collection in August, community members submitted a whopping 540 ideas! 

Scout Magazine recently highlighted some of their favorites - check out the article here.


Many of our volunteer Budget Delegates met last night for the first time to learn about the next phase of PB - proposal development. 

Budget Delegates will be working in the following 4 committees to research and prioritize the 540 submitted ideas over the next few months and distill them into the final proposals that will appear on the ballot in December:

  • Culture & Community Facilities
  • Health, Environment & Safety
  • Parks, Recreation & Education
  • Streets, Sidewalks & Transit

The Parks, Recreation & Education committee will be based in one of the City's Youth Centers and made up of youth delegates who will do this proposal development work as part of a broader, structured internship program.

Stay tuned for more updates on all of the committees' work!

Volunteer as a Budget Delegate - Decide which Projects Make it to the Ballot

Budget Delegates are essential to Participatory Budgeting. Volunteering as a Budget Delegate is a great opportunity to become a community leader, develop teambuilding skills, get to know your neighbors, build your resume, and help make your city a better place.

Budget Delegates will take all of the ideas submitted by the community in August and will work during the fall to research, assess, and prioritize those ideas and determine which ones will be developed into full proposals for the public vote in December.

Read what one former Budget Delegate had to say about his experience this spring:

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Help Us Spread the Word

If you have friends, family, neighbors, or coworkers who speak another language, help us get their ideas about how they would spend $600,000 to improve Cambridge. 

Please share the flyers below with speakers of Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, Haitian Kreyol, Portuguese, and Spanish to get the conversation going. 

Idea_collection_flyer_English.JPG      Idea_collection_flyer_Amharic.JPG

Idea_collection_flyer_Arabic.JPG      Idea_collection_flyer_Chinese.JPG

Idea_collection_flyer_Haitian_Kreyol.JPG      Idea_collection_flyer_Portuguese.JPG


Thanks for your help spreading the word!

PB1 Project Implementation Update

Since fiscal year 2016 officially began for the City on July 1, 2015, departments are now able to use the $528,000 that was awarded through the pilot Participatory Budgeting process to get started on the winning projects. 

As projects come online, keep your eye out for this sticker!


Read on for a status update on the six winners...

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Read the PB2 Rulebook

This rulebook was developed by the PB Steering Committee, the City of Cambridge, and the nonprofit organization The Participatory Budgeting Project in June and July 2015 to guide Cambridge's second PB process, which will run from June-December 2015.

Look inside to learn more about what kinds of projects are eligible for PB funding, who can participate as a Budget Delegate, and who will be able to vote for PB projects this time around.


Idea Collection is Coming!

How would you spend $600,000 to improve Cambridge? 

Participatory budgeting is back, and we'll be collecting YOUR project ideas from August 1-31, 2015.  

The following 6 projects won funding during the last PB cycle:

  • Healthy trees for a healthy Cambridge ($120,000)
  • Laptops for the Community Learning Center ($27,000)
  • Bilingual books for children learning English ($7,000)
  • Public toilet in Central Square ($320,000)
  • 8 bike repair stations ($12,000)
  • Free public Wi-Fi in 6 outdoor locations ($42,000)

What would you like to see during this round?

Click here to learn about what kinds of project ideas are eligible for PB funding!