My name is Lily Kelly, and I’m proud new member of the Community Democracy Project and currently reporting from a small farm in rural Ireland – more on that later.
I’ve been interested in participatory budgeting as a concept ever since I first read about it in the excellent book “Envisioning Real Utopias.” I’m personally excited about the prospect of participatory budgeting because, in addition to giving citizens the opportunity to vote directly on the city’s budget allocations, it has the potential to achieve two things that I think are desperately important to the democratic process. First, it requires that the City Council take an active role in engaging citizens in their decision making process, which is by itself a fairly revolutionary change. Second, it provides an opportunity for the citizens themselves to learn about how their city works – what agencies exist and what they do, the amounts of money needed to achieve certain key tasks for Oakland, and many other aspects of the city administration. Both citizen education and active engagement by our representatives are crucial to a well-informed and accurately rep
A little more about me – I’m an NGO program manager by trade, but I’m currently taking a break from desk work by WWOOFing on a farm in Ireland for two months. Instead of working on the administrative side of change-making, I’m now helping create a self-sustaining farmhold by planting produce, feeding, watering, and herding goats, caring for chickens, and cooking meals for the household from fresh produce grown on the farm. It’s a welcome change from my usual work, but I’m excited to return in May to the world of activism in Oakland, including continuing to support CDP’s efforts to pass a measure to create participatory budgeting in our wonderful city.
See you soon!