United for a Fair Economy (UFE) just released their annual State of the Dream report. Included in that report is an historic overview of the policies and practices that have helped to create our existing economic inequality. The following Tweets highlight some key pieces of the UFE report.
The wealth gap in the US has widened significantly in the past 30 years to levels unseen since the Great Depression. #Dream15#MLKDay
The need for productive justice is largely the result of inequitable systems of distribution and unfair structures of ownership that allow a shrinking group of the élite to accumulate socially produced and socially needed production resources in their hands.
Productive justice is having equitable access to productive opportunities.
Productive justice means not having to beg someone for a job.
Productive justice means not having to beg for land to grow food on.
Productive justice means being able to provide for yourself and your loved ones—the very young, the old, the infirmed, and the caretakers—with your labor which produces for all.
Productive justice means enjoying the dignity that comes from being a productive and needed part of society.
Productive justice means being a role model and teacher to the young who follow.
Productive justice means being an independent political thinker and actor, unfettered by fear of displeasing elites on whom you might otherwise depend upon.
Productive justice is needed because the current system means that the control of who is or is not allowed to be productive is in the hands of a small group of people.
This small group has enormous power that derives from this control.
This power is literally power over the life and death of others.
This power robs other people not only of their produce but also of their dignity.
By determining who has access to opportunities, spaces and resources needed to be productive, these owning elite control the actions, direction and rules of the whole community.
They use this power to increase their power and wealth.
This system of the few controlling the many has gotten worse, despite all the talk about democracy.
With the elites controlling even what are the choices put before us, it matters little how we chose.
We need to work in the cracks and fissures of the existing structure to expand and broadly/openly distribute productive opportunities while still looking for ways to undo the historical patterns of power and distribution that have resulted in current inequities.
These efforts are producing amazing results! Chicago’s Ward 49 is in its second participatory budgeting cycle. Last year’s effort was so successful more Chicago city council members and candidates are planning to launch similar projects in their districts. Politicians from across the political spectrum are finding common ground through the fairly old fashioned notion that the people ought to exercise more direct control over the decisions of their government.
The Fund for Democratic Communities is excited to bring two people who are deeply involved in developing participatory budgeting to Greensboro. Josh Lerner is Co-Director of The Participatory Budget Project, a nonprofit offering support, resources, and guidance to local groups and elected officials organizing participatory budgeting efforts in their communities. Maria Hadden is a resident of Chicago’s 49th Ward and a member of its Participatory Budgeting Leadership Committee.
On May 4th they will present a history of participatory budgeting around the world with an emphasis on the United States. Then, on May 5th, they will lead a discussion for people involved with local nonprofits and grassroots community groups on how to integrate participatory budgeting into their funding cycles. See below for the full event announcements.
We expect these will be exciting, educational presentations and discussions and we hope you will consider coming to one or both of these events. No RSVP is necessary, but if you would like to connect with other folks in Greensboro interested in this, check out the Facebook events page for both events (linked below). Feel free to invite your Facebook friends who may be interested too!
For more information, contact me at pbproject [at] f4dc.org.
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Our Money, Our City: Presentation and Discussion on Participatory Budgeting
Connect on Facebook Wednesday, May 4 · 5:30pm – 7:30pm Nussbaum Room, Central Library 219 North Church Street, Greensboro, NC (map)
Cities across the United States face tighter funding environments and deeper budget cuts, and Greensboro is no different. In over 1,000 cities around the world, residents are trying a different way to manage public money. Through “participatory budgeting” they are directly deciding how to spend public budget funds. Chicago’s Ward 49 recently launched the first participatory budgeting process in the US, for its $1.3 million ward budget. Other US cities are beginning to incorporate similar efforts into their budgeting processes.
Josh Lerner is Co-Director of The Participatory Budget Project, a nonprofit offering support, resources, and guidance to local groups and elected officials organizing participatory budgeting efforts in their communities. Maria Hadden is a resident of Chicago’s 49th Ward and a member of its Participatory Budgeting Leadership Committee. They will present a history of participatory budgeting and discuss how Greensboro residents might initiate a similar project here.
This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.
Co-Sponsored by: The Fund for Democratic Communities and the Greensboro Public Library
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Using Participatory Budgeting to Engage More People in the Success of your Organization
Connect on Facebook Thursday, May 5 · 4:00pm – 6:00pm Gateway Center Conference Room (Third Floor) 620 S. Elm Street, Greensboro, NC (map)
The economic reality faced by the nonprofit sector today may be the most difficult in decades. As funding sources erode, nonprofit directors and fund developers need to build stronger relationships with existing donors and the communities they work within. A new tool called “participatory budgeting” could help. In over 1,000 cities around the world, organizations have used it to attract more resources and support for their activities. Participatory budgeting engages community members in directly deciding how to spend budget money in cities, schools, housing authorities, and organizations. Residents of Chicago’s 49th Ward recently launched the first participatory budget process in the United States.
Josh Lerner is Co-Director of The Participatory Budget Project, a nonprofit offering support, resources, and guidance to local groups and elected officials organizing participatory budgeting efforts in their communities. Maria Hadden is a resident of Chicago’s 49th Ward and a member of its Participatory Budgeting Leadership Committee. They will discuss ways to use participatory budgeting to build community trust in your organization, stabilize your funding, and engage more people in your mission.
This event is free and open to anyone with a stake in a local nonprofit.