Chicago's $1.3 Million Experiment in Democracy

In a Chicago Tribune op-ed, Alderman Joe Moore explains why he is letting residents decide how to spend his $1.3 ward budget, through the first Participatory Budgeting process in the US.

March 31, 2010, 11:00 AM PDT

By Nate Berg


"From Chicago's City Hall to the halls of Congress, important policy and spending decisions have been made for far too long by a handful of politicians behind closed doors working in concert with corporations and special interests. This old way of doing the public's business has bred anger and mistrust of all levels of government."

"As a Chicago alderman, I have embarked on an innovative alternative to the old style of decision-making. In an experiment in democracy, transparent governance and economic reform, I'm letting the residents of the 49th Ward in the Rogers Park and Edgewater communities decide how to spend my entire discretionary capital budget of more than $1.3 million.

Known as "participatory budgeting," this form of democracy is being used worldwide, from Brazil to the United Kingdom and Canada. It lets the community decide how to spend part of a government budget, through a series of meetings and ultimately a final, binding vote."

On April 10th, all residents will be invited to vote on proposed budget projects, such as street lights, bike paths, public art, and community gardens.

Thanks to Josh Lerner

Wednesday, March 31, 2010 in Chicago Tribune

A conceptual rendering of three high-speed rail trains. The middle train is orange; the other two are black.

The California High-Speed Rail Project Illustrates America’s Transit Issues

Slow progress and a bloated budget have plagued the High-Speed Rail project linking San Francisco to Los Angeles, exposing deeper issues with American transit projects.

May 22, 2022 - Eric Carlson

Parent and child walking, holding hands on mixed-use trail with trees

What Role Does Health Care Play in Community Development?

Cities are economically diverse and require accessible health care systems, but this can be challenging to implement. Urban developers are working alongside health professionals to create affordable care for city residents.

May 18, 2022 - Devin Partida

Multi-Family Development

Density and Driving: A Second Look

A common argument against more compact housing is that increased population density will only reduce vehicle miles traveled at moderate levels of density, as opposed to very low-density and very high-density areas. But this might not be so.

May 22, 2022 - Michael Lewyn

Hopscotch squares on concrete schoolyard with basketball hoop in background

The Social and Economic Benefits of Green Schoolyards

New research suggests that switching from asphalt to green, park-like schoolyards brings economic benefits in addition to public health improvements.

1 minute ago - Trust for Public Land

Adams Morgan pedestrian zone during COVID-19 pandemic

D.C. Plans for Street Safety Improvements in Adams Morgan

While residents differ on how to allocate the neighborhood’s street space, many want to see safer infrastructure for pedestrians and people on bikes.

1 hour ago - Greater Greater Washington

Worker standing between solar panels on roof

Rooftop Solar Hampered by New York City Fire Code

Requirements in the NYFD fire code make it costly and difficult to achieve the city’s solar installation goals.

2 hours ago - Grist

HUD’s 2022 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Expanding HUD’s Eviction Protection Grant Program

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.