2016-10-12 / Features

A Van Bramer Participatory Budgeting Meeting


Organizers and volunteers at one of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s eight Participatory Budgeting meetings, including Elana Ehrenberg, Special Projects Director for Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer; and Stephanie Mulcock, a volunteer Cidadao Global in Long Island City. 
Photos Bronwyn Davila Organizers and volunteers at one of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s eight Participatory Budgeting meetings, including Elana Ehrenberg, Special Projects Director for Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer; and Stephanie Mulcock, a volunteer Cidadao Global in Long Island City. Photos Bronwyn Davila While Councilman Van Bramer rooted for the Mets at the October 13th playoff game, the women of his office and of the community rolled up their sleeves and did the necessary work of government in the offices of Cidadao Global (43-12 34th Ave, Long Island City) one of Queens’ several Brazilian cultural centers.

In one of a series of eight meetings held all over District 26, Elana Ehrenberg, Special Projects Director for Councilman Van Bramer, and Stephanie Mulcock, volunteer at the center and interpreter for the Portuguese-speaking population of Astoria, hosted the city’s first-ever, fully Portuguese-bilingual Participatory Budgeting meeting. In addition to the meeting being translated in real time, the Participatory Budget Presentation Powerpoint had been translated into Portuguese for the first time.


Organizers and volunteers debate the merits of various potential projects in the community to receive funding. Organizers and volunteers debate the merits of various potential projects in the community to receive funding. Beginning its third year, the aims of participatory budgeting have been to increase government transparency; and engage and bolster the community, bringing out its leaders and making public spending decisions accessible to the public to make the process more equitable. Of 50 districts citywide, 31 will split $35 million, with each assemblymember garnering at least a million for their own district.

All over the borough, meetings like this one happen: ordinary citizens come together and brainstorm ideas to improve the neighborhoods they live and work in. Budget delegates are recruited and chosen from a slew of applicants, and will help in the solidification, development, selection and monitoring of projects suggested.

Among others, ideas included school bathroom renovations, countdown clocks in subway stations, soccer fields, and the expansion and increased accessibility of subway entrances. One young man who had initially given the impression of being dragged there by his father, was soon excitedly giving suggestions and getting involved with his community.

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