Recap: Innovations in Participatory Democracy Conference 2018

Oren Robinson
Mar 26, 2018 · 2 min read
My reflections joining 250 leaders talking about participatory democracy at #IPDConf2018

I first heard about participatory budgeting when I was invited to attend meetings of the San Diego Community Budget Alliance a few years ago.

I was deeply excited to learn that “participatory budgeting” experiments are increasing equitable access to civic participation in many shapes and forms all around the world.

That’s why I was thrilled to attend the 2018 Innovations in Participatory Democracy Conference in Phoenix from March 8 — March 10, presented by a collaborative of seven organizations (see below).

The conference was full of amazing sessions, like:

Phoenix Public Schools: 15,000 students voting to fund their own ideas

The youngest poll workers and policymakers I’ve ever met!

The first participatory budgeting in a U.S. high school began in Phoenix in 2013, and has been growing ever since. This means students propose ideas, put them on a ballot, and vote on how to spend thousands of school district dollars.

When youth lead, things change

What struck me most was hearing from students who felt bolder and more powerful, and the teachers and school staff changed their relationship with students, giving them more respect and trust.

More recap articles coming soon! For more, check out #IPDConf2018 on Twitter for more.

Shout-outs to the conference’s organizing collaborative members: Center for the Future of Arizona, the Jefferson Center, the Katal Center, the Participatory Budgeting Project, the Participatory Governance Initiative at Arizona State University, Phoenix Union High School District, and the Policy Jury Group.

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P.S. If you like civic engagement ideas, please check out Every Public Meeting, a free, crowd-sourced directory of every public meeting from every state, county, and local public body.

I believe a newcomer should feel just as at home as an elected leader at every public meeting, so I’m making a super-simple, highly-shareable link that tells you everything you need to know about every public meeting!

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