‘Participatory Budgeting Oregon’ reveals winning projects
July 2023 | By David F. Ashton | Originally Published in East PDX News
The shade trees, on a hot Saturday afternoon, were welcome at Nadaka Nature Park and Garden in Gresham, just four blocks east of outer East Portland, helping keep participants cool at the Youth Voice, Youth Vote celebration held by Participatory Budgeting Oregon (PBO) on July 15.
Many people sat out of the sun, in the shelter, while others gathered under canopies, as they all enjoyed hot dog and hamburger lunches, and cooling snow cones.
At the “Party in the Park”, attendees would learn the five projects that were selected by ballot in the PBO’s Youth Voice, Youth Vote initiative.
About ‘Participatory Budgeting Oregon’
“Participatory Budgeting Oregon got started after we co-hosted with Healthy Democracy Community Forum on Participatory Budgeting in 2018; we formed shortly after that, then later became a 501c(3) group in 2020,” said the organization’s Board President, Jim Labbe.
“‘Participatory Budgeting’ is a democratic process in which ordinary community members can allocate part of a public budget in a process that results in a binding vote; in this situation, to decide how funds are spent,” Labbe told East Portland News.
Filling us in on the Youth Voice, Youth Vote program was their Steering Committee member, process facilitator, and legislative advocacy intern for PBO, Karol Wai.
She’s thrilled with the Youth Voice, Youth Vote program, says Steering Committee member Karol Wai.
Further, Wai told us that she graduated from Portland State University with a Bachelors degree in biology, and is now an incoming medical student at Oregon Health and Sciences University.
Oh, yes – and she was also a participant in the recent Miss Oregon Pageant!
Gives youth a ‘voice’
“The Youth Voice, Youth Vote program is important for young people across the state,” Wai remarked. “The COVID 19 pandemic really afflicted so many of our communities – especially our youth, who are struggling with novel mental health challenges from the pandemic.
“This process is really a way for youth who have been vastly underrepresented in government and decision-making to finally take a part in a democracy of their own,” Wai went on. “I love that participatory budgeting is reaching a cohort of young people and communities who have historically not really had a seat at the table, or had their ideas shared.”
Up until the final tabulation, votes are being cast for projects.
Wai explained that the participatory budgeting phases are:
Vote (results of which announced at the party)
“Our processes has been divided between East Portland and North Clackamas County,” Wai continued. “Working with many East Portland youth, it’s produced many ideas and involved dozens of facilitators. And, nearly 800 young people in the East Metro Region voted on these projects from May 15 to until today, July 15.”
Beyond SNAP – More Menstrual and Hygiene Products: Expanding youth access to menstrual and hygiene products that are not typically covered by SNAP benefits.
Sheltering Youth – Connecting Young People to Rental and Housing Assistance
Youth Artist Capital – Paid two-week program for youth artists to develop their art and entrepreneurial skills.
Get the Summer Job of Your Dreams – A job resource fair to help youth learn directly from employers about how to get ready for a dream summer job.
Young Professionals – Paid Training to Start Your Career: Paid internships for youth to learn professional skills and to explore job opportunities.
The five winning projects will get $100,000 each to fund their implementation, totaling the $500,000 funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.
“It makes me happy, because a lot of people who came out of this pandemic quite dejected and isolated are now working – in person – with youth of their own age to make their communities better,” commented Wai.