Democratizing Local Budgets to Transform Our Cities and Care for Our Communities

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated poverty for millions of Americans while a handful of billionaires multiplied their profits. Our communities suffered major budget cuts after the federal government failed to provide adequate emergency aid to cities and states. Unless we demand change in this moment, we will be subjected to austerity budgets in our cities for years to come.

Our communities were struggling before COVID and will continue to struggle as long as a small handful of powerful corporations and the very wealthy use our resources to protect their profits at the expense of the public good.

Although we are constantly sold a narrative of scarcity and competition, the reality is that our world already has ample resources to care for us all. Imagine if we could gather regularly with our neighbors to decide how our collective resources can be used to support all of us and to meet shared responsibilities. What might we decide to fund? What collective, public institutions would we build? What priorities would we realize that we all share?

Stories From The Frontlines

Click through the images below to read about participatory democracy campaigns from community organizers on the ground.

The organizers of the Graham Street Project in Seattle, WA sought wide community input in visioning the Graham Street neighborhood...

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The Center on Policy Initiatives anchors two coalitions that work on local budgets to transform...

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During the 2019 mayoral campaign, Grassroots Collaborative worked with its member organizations and...

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As the influx of federal relief money flows to our cities, the fight to build equitable budgets...

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Take Action

We have a lot to learn if we are to build a deeper democracy. We must try new things and continually adapt based on our successes and failures. We hope this paper is a contribution to our movement’s collective, ongoing work, and look forward to experimenting with and learning from you. It’s time to stand up for communities hardest hit by COVID-19 and fight for a radically different democracy. One that works for all of us. Help us spread the word on Twitter!

Organizer’s Toolkit

Ready to expand your local democracy with a people-powered budget? We’ve designed this toolkit to help guide you through the process of developing and planning your campaign. Let’s get started!

Contact Us

If you are currently working on participatory democratic practices or are interested in starting, we would love to hear from you!