By Say Ra Pa
In November, our Citizenship & Organizing Group participated in several general assemblies for Buffalo’s new Participatory Budgeting process. The purpose of the general assemblies was for a district to work together to determine how to spend $150,000 from the government.
As we entered the building, we saw some leaders that were already there and we set up a poster about our group’s healthy corner stores project. As other people entered the building, we asked them to complete a survey to see if they are aware of food deserts and to get their opinions on corner stores. Some people didn’t want to share their ideas with us and that is understandable. As the people filled out the survey, we found out that there were two people who were already working on the same project as us. There were a lot of people from the Masten district at the Participating Budgeting meeting. Most of them were adults, but there were two teenagers there. Some of the participants were from another state, so we could tell that they truly cared for the district for travelling from such a long distance. The news was also there and they were interviewing people.
At 6pm, we formed three groups and started brainstorming about how the Masten district should use the money. There were 6 to 8 people in each group. We first started off by brainstorming infrastructure projects. There were many ideas from many different people and all of them were great ideas. Some of the ideas were road, lights, and building improvements, a library, and grocery store. Since there were a lot of ideas, we ended up voting by putting a sticker next to the ideas that we like the most. The grocery store idea ended up getting the most votes for infrastructure projects.
After that we moved on to brainstorming programming projects to help improve the district. We also got a lot of ideas for programming from the people and most of them were great ideas to improving the district. Some of the ideas included a year-round Mayor Summer Youth Program, a youth program, a computer program, and more. We then voted for the programming ideas we liked best, and ended up with one idea to focus on. The favorite was the year-round Mayor Summer Youth Program.
I have learned something important from the meeting, and that is that people collaborated well together and ended up getting the work done perfectly on time. There will be more meetings in the future and the Masten district will have to get into a serious vote for the betterment of their district.
Click here to learn more about Participatory Budgeting in Buffalo.