Mock-up for BOOKlyn mobile library, courtesy of St. Nick's Alliance

Just the name “Participatory Budgeting” might want to make you hit the snooze button, but it’s actually a unique opportunity to vote on a project that YOU want to see funded in our community. NYC has reserved $14 million in taxpayer dollars for this very purpose and as part of the 33rd District, there are some pretty innovative projects in the running that could potentially affect our parks, schools, and community centers.

The $14 million will be divided by district; the 33rd also covers Dumbo, Boerum Hill, and Brooklyn Heights, so Greenpoint is going to have to step it up at the polls if we want to get some of the bounty for our neighborhood, Hunger Games style (but by peaceful democratic vote, instead of mudering!).

Last week residents gathered at Bourough Hall to promote their proposals science-fair style (they actually have 3D foam core board set ups like 4th graders). Five of the 15 proposals will be funded as per public vote.

The Greenpoint-based initiatives include upgrading the computer lab at P.S. 31 (75 Meserole), installing interactive SMARTboard technology at P.S. 110 (124 Monitor St), and rebuilding the playground in McGolrick Park. We think SMARTboards are robot chalkboards from the future, but that could be wishful thinking.

The standout project is the BOOKlyn Shuttle, a mobile library and education center, designed by Pratt Institute, that would travel around North Brooklyn to promote childhood literacy.  The book bus will have a full library as well as contests, storytelling events, arts & crafts, and reading games.


Farther South is a proposal to reopen a community plaza in Williamsburg (at 130 Clymer St) and another to renovate the Gowanus Community Center, both of which have been closed for years. All of the projects are listed on Stephen Levin’s Tumblr.

Participatory Budgeting is not unique to NYC–It was first started in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre when citizens were allowed to vote on the municipal budget. The strategy has since spread to more than 1,500 cities around the world. It begins with community members building proposals for local needs and then opening the options up for public vote.

Everyone can vote, even groups that don’t normally get to register, including undocumented immigrants and teens 16 and up. Voting will take place from 3/29-4/6. You can RSVP on facebook for a reminder and check here as well for polling locations.

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  1. I always find it sad that schools have to ask for this type of money rather than having an adequate budget to upgrade their facilities and technology. Hence, the schools always get my vote.

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