Conference on Participatory Budgeting: Call for Proposals

3rd International Conference on Participatory Budgeting in North America

September 25-27, 2014
Oakland & Vallejo, California



We are still accepting session proposals for the upcoming conference on PB in North America. Please read the information below before submitting your proposal, or visit our website, Please share with your networks (download a pdf copy here).

About the Conference

In cities across North America, budget crises are leading to painful cuts in public services and infrastructure - especially for communities with the greatest needs. Community members are usually left on the sidelines during public budgeting, with little power to shape the spending decisions that affect their lives.
Participatory Budgeting (PB) offers an alternative - a more democratic and accountable way to manage public money. PB is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. First used in Brazil in 1989, there are now over 1,500 participatory budgets around the world. Most are for city budgets, but counties, states, towns, housing authorities, schools, universities, and other institutions have also used PB to give people real power over real money.

PB has only recently appeared on the radar in the US and Canada, with a few Canadian processes starting in 2001 and the first US experiment in 2009. But in just a few years, interest in North America has skyrocketed. PB has grown from just a few experiments to over 20 PB processes in cities, schools, and universities -- with nearly 20 more cities currently organizing for PB. In 2014, around 30,000 people in the United States and Canada have used PB to allocate nearly $27 million.

This 3rd International Conference on Participatory Budgeting in North America, organized by The Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP), will take place in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA. The conference will provide a space for participants and organizers of PB processes to share and reflect on their experiences so far, alongside interested activists, practitioners, and scholars. The final conference day will take place in Vallejo, California to celebrate and observe the outcomes of North America’s first citywide PB process, now in its second cycle.

Conference Themes

As an opportunity to reflect upon new and established PB initiatives and to build new relationships between practitioners, the conference will focus on the following issues and questions. We encourage submissions related to these themes:

1) The State of Participatory Budgeting: What is the current status of PB practice in North America and elsewhere? What lessons can we learn from these experiences? What tools are available or needed to improve PB practice?

2) Building a Movement: How can activists, organizers and elected officials most effectively advocate for PB in their cities and institutions? How can PB practitioners, activists, and participants support each others’ efforts across city, state and national borders, to build a stronger movement? How can regional, state and national institutions support PB?

3) Planning, Organizing, and Politics: How does PB relate to broader systems of urban planning, organizing, and politics? What is or could be the role of PB in this age of austerity?