By Rachel Fine of the Participatory Budgeting District Committee in District 39
As a District Committee member, I have been focusing on getting the word out about participatory budgeting and engaging our district’s diverse communities in this process. Although the past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity getting ready for the neighborhood assemblies, our outreach efforts have targeted a number of communities.
One of the main goals this year is to increase youth participation. We are hosting youth breakout sessions at each of the neighborhood assemblies, beefing up our social media presence, encouraging youth to be budget delegates, and spreading the word to students and young people about all of these great opportunities to get involved! In addition to engaging youth, we wanted to host mini-assemblies at local neighborhood spots (e.g. popular bars, coffee shops, churches) and a Spanish-speaking assembly to reach folks who otherwise might not have heard about it. I really wanted to host one at Ginger's, the local lesbian bar, but that idea will have to wait until next year since our calendars were filling up with various events such as hosting mini assemblies, phone banking, and canvassing.
My main focus has been organizing phone banks to invite residents to the neighborhood assemblies. Our strategy was to set up a series of phone banks at people's homes. We organized one phone bank per neighborhood and invited anyone who wanted to help out. I realized phone banking is not easy and it was tough to find enough volunteers; however, the ones we did find were awesome! Fortunately, the anxiety of contacting people over the phone turned out to be totally unfounded. Everyone we talked to were receptive and thrilled to hear that participatory budgeting was happening again.