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Call for Proposals- 2nd International Conference on Participatory Budgeting in the US and Canada

  • 17 Jan 2013
  • 15 Feb 2013
  • Submit proposals online via the link in the description
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 - with at least six new PB processes in the past two years. In 2013, around 20,000 people will use PB to allocate nearly $20 million.

This second regional conference on PB will take place in Chicago, to allow participants to observe and celebrate the final vote for PB Chicago. This new joint process across four city wards builds on the first PB initiative in the US, in the city's 49th Ward. The conference will provide a space for participants and organizers of the initial PB processes in the US and Canada to share and reflect on their experiences, alongside activists, practitioners, and scholars.

Chicago: Loyola University and other locations in the city

Initial Conference Schedule
Friday, May 3rd:
PB Training Workshop (separate registration - more details coming soon)
Evening Reception

Saturday, May 4th
Opening Plenary
Guided Tours of PB Chicago Voting Sites
Concurrent Panels and Workshops
Celebration and Announcement of PB 
Chicago Vote Results

Sunday, May 5th
Concurrent Panels and Workshops
Closing Plenaries

Conference Themes
As an opportunity to reflect upon early PB initiatives in the US and Canada, and build new relationships between practitioners, the conference will focus on the following issues and questions. We encourage submissions relating to these and other similar themes.
1) The State of Participatory Budgeting: What is the current status of PB practice in North America? How are current PB experiments and campaigns progressing? What lessons can we learn from these experiences?

2) 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?
3) Building Connections across Cities: How do the North American PB experiences differ from or inform the practice of PB in other parts of the world? How can PB practitioners, activists, and participants support each others' efforts?

Session Types
We encourage presenters to submit proposals for a variety of session formats. These may include, but are not limited to: panel discussions, workshops, presentations, and videos. Sessions are scheduled to last 1.5 hours, but some sessions may group together shorter activities. Though the conference's primary focus is on PB in the US and Canada, proposals dealing with broader PB issues or other locations will also be considered. Proposals that reflect a diversity of opinions, experiences and backgrounds, and those encouraging participant interaction and new collaborations, will be given priority.

Panel Discussions: Panel discussions should be moderated by a facilitator (please indicate in your proposal whether you would like us to help identify a facilitator) and should include 3-5 speakers. Panels should leave adequate time for discussion.
Workshops: Workshops should engage participants in discussions or activities designed to foster learning, dialogue, or debate. Workshops can be led by a single person or organization, though we encourage collaboration between facilitators. Presenting by workshop facilitators should be limited.

Presentations: Presentations of PB experiences and academic papers are also welcome. Presentations will be grouped together based on subject, geography or theme. Academic paper presentations will be limited to 15 minutes, and all presenters should be prepared for discussion with other participants.

Videos and Other Formats: We welcome video screenings and other artistic or creative proposals.

Conference Fees
Registration will open in February. Early Registration ends March 22, 2013.
Students and low-income participants: $50 early / $60 late
Full Registration: $100 early / $125 late
Full Registration + Sponsor low income participants: $150 early / $175 late
A limited number of sponsorships will be available for low-income participants.
Note: There will be an additional registration fee for the May 3rd PB Training.

Thank you to the Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement and Loyola University for initial sponsorship of the conference! To learn more about sponsorship options, contact us.

Submission Guidelines
Session proposals should include the following information:
Name(s) and affiliations of presenters, panelists, or workshop leaders
Abstract (200-400 words)
Short bio paragraphs for each presenter, panelist, or workshop leader (150 words max)
Special arrangements or other considerations (space requirements, interpretation needs, scheduling requests, etc.)

Please submit proposals via this online form.
For more information: http://pbconference.wordpress.com | pbconference.info@gmail.com

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