Participatory Budgeting (PB) Cycles

Participatory Budgeting (PB) Cycles

Why does FirstRoot talk about “Participatory Budgeting (PB) Cycles” and not “PB Projects,” “PB Events,” or “PB Workshops”?

Cycle n. – “a series of events repeated on a regular basis”

Participatory budgeting is most effective when performed on a regular basis with the same audience (e.g., at the same school, annually). As a group of participants becomes more familiar with Participatory Budgeting, they begin to trust the process more. They see the impact that they’re creating, which creates a virtuous cycle of participation: more students participate, budgets allocated to the students become larger, and impact continues to increase.

This impact is experienced within the school and in the larger community, especially as students graduate and bring Participatory Budgeting into your community and their workplaces.

Each PB Cycle is made up of a series of phases. These phases are executed in sequence, and each must be completed before the subsequent phase can begin.

These phases include:
  1. Discover (Planning)
  2. Dream (Ideation)
  3. Design (Refinement)
  4. Decide (Voting)
  5. Do (Project Implementation)
When planning a PB Cycle, you’re planning each of the phases listed above and taking into account when your “next” PB Cycle will occur too (when the cycle will repeat itself).

PB Cycles and Civics — The idea of periodic cycles that repeat are part of the foundation of every democratic society. Sometimes these are annual cycles, such as the yearly elections in cities. At other times the cycle is longer, such as the election cycles of Congress or other government offices. We compliment periodic elections with ad-hoc elections, such as when we have an urgent need to pass a new law or respond to a voter referendum. Similarly, a school can have a series of Participatory Budgeting Cycles that give students their first hands-on experience in a democratic process. For example, a school could run an annual PB Cycle for everyone in the school, and each classroom or club in the school could run an annual or ad-hoc cycle.

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