Do you live in North Brooklyn? Do you have a lot of big ideas for the neighborhood? If you checked yes to both of these, then you’re in luck, because North Brooklyn’s District 33 is looking for volunteer budget delegates from the community to help decide how the neighborhood should spend this year’s $1 million.
It’s super easy to get involved. All you have to do is attend a couple of training sessions — tonight, Oct. 5, and Tuesday Oct. 11 — and commit to one meeting a month, and you’re in. At last you can champion your big Brooklyn hammock park idea (it’s a park, but instead of benches it has hammocks).
FYI, participatory budgeting is one of the best ways to meet folks in your neighborhood and get involved in the betterment of the community. From Brokelyn’s resident political affairs professional, Rachel Eve Stein:
“Just when you thought politics couldn’t get anymore local, enter the rise of participatory budgeting. It is one of the most direct forms of democracy we have in this city. New York residents can literally decide where their tax payer money goes! Anyone can come up with a project, and get face-to-face meetings with City agency officials to discuss feasibility. What’s also great is that younger teens can vote, in addition to anyone living in the district–even people who don’t have citizenship or who aren’t registered or eligible to vote in the traditional electoral system.”
And District 33, which covers Williamsburg, Greenpoint, DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Vinegar Hill and northeast Bed-Stuy, is very much need of people who have these neighborhoods’ best interests in mind. As we learned last week, Brooklyn has taken home the unfavorable title of “Most Unaffordable Place to Live in America,” and the borough’s new real-time gentrification map shows each of these neighborhoods at risk of losing affordable units, longtime residents and neighborhood skylines.
Becoming a budget delegate means going to meetings, pitching and hearing spending ideas to figure out what will make the ballot in March. Check out this nifty (if a little twee) video above by the Participatory Budgeting Project to see how it actually plays out over the course of a year. It’s all about helping innovate, and it’s often those little changes that make the neighborhood better for everyone. In New York City alone, participatory budgeting has paid for a dog run at East River State Park, better facilities in public schools, a community sound studio in Williamsburg, “making McGolrick Park safer” and more.
Ready to get involved? Training sessions are tonight, Oct. 5 at 6pm at Brooklyn Law School Courtroom (250 Joralemon St.) for all Brooklyn districts — RSVP here — and Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 6pm at the District Office of Council Member Stephen Levin (410 Atlantic Ave.) for District 33.
If you don’t live in North Brooklyn but you’re keen to get involved in participatory budgeting, then you should still attend tonight’s session, as it covers all districts. And bring some ideas! Maybe Brooklyn actually needs hammock parks. Maybe our public schools should have “fruit and scent” playgrounds. Or maybe McCarren Park just deserves some new bathrooms where the ground isn’t made of urine.