A story about participatory budgeting which is this amazing tradition that came out of Brazil you know late 1980’s in the town of Porto Alegre, this is a city in the late 80’s that had gone through these convulsive growth periods, you know they’d gone from two hundred thousand to two million people in a shockingly short amount of time and they had all these infrastructure problems they had all of these terrible corruption problems and so on. At some point in the late 80’s they decided they would earmark a certain amount of taxpayer dollars each year to be allocated based on local neighborhood decisions so neighbors in each community would get together and they would have these open discussions face to face about what their priorities were in their community, you know they need the sewer line extended, they needed more space in the local school, they wanted a playground whatever it was. And they would create a rank list of priorities and then the funding would go to fund the projects that the citizens had decided upon...
What it did was it had a tremendous impact on corruption in a positive way because it was so much harder for money to just disappear because people were like “hey, we asked for that sewer line extension and you guys said it would cost this much, where is it?” you know there was kind of accountability because people had been involved in the process. And people had this positive feedback loop they showed up at these meetings and they got involved and they made these decisions and they saw their neighborhoods improve so they came back they felt like they could make a difference. I mention this because this is 1989-1990 in brazil, there’s no internet to speak of, there’s no smart phones, this is the technology people gathering face to face and having conversations. The internet makes it easier to form these kinds of decentralized diverse networks but you don’t have to have the internet to do it.

Participatory Budgeting
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