Read about participatory democracy campaigns from community organizers on the ground

Chicago, IL

Reimagine Chicago

During the 2019 mayoral campaign, Grassroots Collaborative worked with its member organizations and other partners to develop a platform called Reimagine Chicago through participatory processes. This platform was designed to articulate policies and investment in all of Chicago’s neighborhoods, rather than concentrate it in wealthy and business districts. Grassroots Collaborative developed and implemented the processes through their relationships with other organizations, which drew on their memberships to bring community members together. They also prioritized the participation of Black members and modeled the platform creation on the work of Movement for Black Lives. In the meetings, facilitators shared information about the policies they would be discussing and conducted gallery walks where participants could consider ideas, discuss with one another, and share their feedback. Meetings were conducted in both English and Spanish, and they included facilitators who could read information out loud and record responses for participants who were unable to do so. Many of the participants already had pre-existing relationships with one another because of their membership in the same organization, which facilitated their readiness to engage in these processes as well as dialogue and exchange. Their feedback was then collected and integrated into the Reimagine Chicago platform, which was presented at a mayoral forum in which candidates and the public participated.