Take action: Residents in 4 wards have opportunity to directly influence expenditure of $4 million on infrastructure


The walls of the Mess Hall community center in Rogers Park are covered in project proposals, in 2010. Photo by Samuel Barnett. See more photos from Barnett.

Major updates, 11:17 AM

We received an email Participatory Budgeting Chicago manager Thea Crum, at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) Great Cities Institute, that four alderman will be conducting participatory budgeting in their wards, committing $4 million in discretionary spending (which is short of the $5.2 million in menu funds they have available).

The four alderman are:

  • Leslie Hairston, 5th
  • John Arena, 45th
  • James Cappleman, 46th (see details below)
  • Joe Moore, 49th

From the email:

Residents of the four wards will identify community infrastructure needs and propose projects for the $4 million in discretionary spending that the aldermen have committed.  At the end of the 9-month cycle, residents will vote for those projects they think best meet community needs, and the aldermen will submit the top projects to the city for implementation. During the press conference the participating aldermen and partners will explain why they are undertaking this effort in grassroots democracy.

The press conference is Wednesday, October 3, from 9:30 to 10 AM, at City Hall, 121 N LaSalle Street, 2nd floor. Also speaking are Professor Rachel Weber, Associate Director of the Great Cities Institute at UIC; Maria Hadden, Project Coordinator, The Participatory Budgeting Project; Amisha Patel, Executive Director of The Grassroots Collaborative; and Ron Burke, Executive Director of the Active Transportation Alliance.

Original post

In a exercise called participatory budgeting, first done in the United States by 49th Ward alderman Joe Moore in 2010, all 46th Ward residents will have the opportunity to decide where Alderman James Cappleman spends $1.3 million in menu funds. According to the Participatory Budgeting in the 49th Ward website, eligible projects are capital projects, including:

  • Street resurfacing
  • Speed humps/bumps
  • Sidewalk repairs
  • Streetlighting
  • Playlots
  • Benches
  • Public art
  • Bus shelters/El station improvements
  • Bike lanes
  • Bike parking

Bike Uptown, a community advocacy organization, has details on how and where residents can be involved in the participatory budgeting process:

On [Wednesday,] October 10, Alderman James Cappleman will announce participatory budgeting in the 46th Ward. Participatory budgeting is a community-based process where community members decide how to spend $1.3 million in Aldermanic menu funds. Residents gather at neighborhood assemblies, develop project ideas, and then vote on the ideas. If you are reading this, you would probably like to see infrastructure that promotes walking bicycling and transit as keys to a healthy, safe neighborhood. Come to these neighborhood assemblies and get your ideas out there:

Wednesday, October 10, 6 PM – Venue TBA
Wednesday, October 17, 7 PM – Venue TBA
Saturday, October 20, 10 AM – Venue TBA

Wednesday, October 24, 6 PM – Stockton Elementary
Tuesday, October 30, 7 PM – People’s Church

While we wait for more details, the process will likely go the same way it does in the 49th Ward. After neighborhood assemblies are held, where ideas and desires are developed and discussed, neighborhood representatives meet to turn these desires into concrete project proposals. Then a project list is developed and modified, upon which residents will vote for the projects they want to see funded.


A poster in the Mess Hall community center in Rogers Park, in 2010, demonstrates what a cycle track looks like. Photo by Samuel Barnett. 

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