Participatory Budgeting – The People’s Budget

Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. For the second year in a row, Friends of the High Line's teen staff members have been collaborating with New York City Council Member Corey Johnson's office to support PB in New York City Council District 3. As members of the Youth Participatory Budgeting Committee (which began in December 2015), they work in partnership with Johnson's team to support all aspects of the PB process—from idea generation to get-out-the-vote activism.

Visual artist Eduardo Velázquez, neighborhood resident Lou Bertot, and Friends of the High Line staff member Leala design Participatory Budgeting project posters. Photo by Julieanne Prevete.

Teen staff worked wth the organization Arts & Democracy, visual artists, and community members to create posters for PB projects, including three project proposals the teens directly supported: the renovation of the basketball courts at Chelsea Park and Gertrude Kelly Playground, as well as the planting of new trees and tree guards on blocks throughout District 3 with few or no trees. These projects were featured at the PB Expo on March 22, where all 15 neighborhood improvement projects were displayed. The projects also appeared on the PB ballot over the two-week-long voting period in late March/early April.

In addition to creating posters and coming up with ideas, teen staff conducted awareness and get-out-the-vote outreach for four weeks—and even staffed voting sites throughout Chelsea, Hell's Kitchen, and Greenwich Village.

Teen staff member Chelsea spreads the word to a neighbor.

Teen staff prepare posters that feature their proposed projects. Photo by Julieanne Prevete.

We asked teen staff about their favorite thing about the Participatory Budgeting process:

"My favorite thing about PB was hearing the voters speak so passionately about the projects they voted for. " - April

"Anyone can be a part of the process!" – Naomi

"Even teens can be a part of it, as well as propose a project to be voted on." – Samantha

Friends of the High Line Teen Staff and Matt Green, Director of Participatory Budgeting for New York City Council Member Corey Johnson, at the PB Expo. Photo by Julieanne Prevete.

Teen staff welcome a PB voter at Hudson Guild's Elliot Center.

High Line Youth – part of High Line Community Engagement – is generously supported by Ford Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Google Community Grants Fund of Tides Foundation. High Line Youth is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council – with special thanks to Council Member Corey Johnson and the Greener NYC Initiative.

TD Bank is a Supporting Sponsor of Green Council.

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