Nowadays, there is a lot of chatter among urbanists and activists about participatory budget projects. It is not surprising because participatory budget is an opportunity to change your city or community using budget funds. That is, for the taxes that we pay.
So, the city itself directs part of the money (each city has a different share of the budget) to the implementation of public projects. It is the projects that residents voted for that receive the funds. In other words, there is motivation for high-quality work on the project itself and on the information campaign to collect votes!
This can be, for example, a project for the reconstruction of a historical monument, a project for a children’s playground, a new infrastructure solution — delineators or islands of road safety, and so on.
Regional coordinator of the Transparent Cities program Tetiana Romanova shares tips on how to develop a successful project. Since 2015, Tetiana has been a trainer and expert on the implementation and development of the community participatory budget, as well as a member of the working group on the implementation of the participatory budget in Chernihiv.
Do a preliminary analysis of your idea on the viability. Please, answer the following questions:
— What resources are available for project implementation (for example, a vacant land plot, territory in the courtyard of a high-rise building, premises for holding educational events, etc.)?
— Have similar ideas been implemented in your city or in other cities (ask for examples of implementation for a better understanding of the problem you want to solve)?
— Does this idea have support with people (a certain community, residents of a high-rise building, etc.)?
— What problems may arise during the project implementation (identify the risks and be prepared to offer solutions to problems during the implementation)?
Search for partners in the public, state sector, or business. The success of your project may require the support of potential stakeholders.
Consult. If the project wins, you will often contact the specialized department of the city council, which will be directly involved in the implementation of your project. Therefore, we advise you to get acquainted and consult representatives of the specialized department/department in your city before creating the project. Their advice can simplify the preparation of the application and help you avoid mistakes.
Write your project clearly, specifically, and in a well-reasoned manner. Visualize. Any images, layouts, infographics, videos, and other visualizations will greatly facilitate the understanding and perception of your project. If you want to put a playground in the yard — make a schematic picture, with clear indication of structures, size, and place. This way, you will avoid having to deal with a situation when an entirely different playground is constructed, not the same as you planned. Visualization will also be very relevant during the information campaign for your project. When writing an application, use numbers to justify the relevance of your idea. Use infographics and tables if possible. Communicate in simple words that are understandable to a large audience, and don’t use complex terms or abbreviations.
Prepare a plan for your project’s information campaign. Even at the stage of preparing the application, you should understand how you can convey information about the project and engage as many people as possible to support it. Without a successful information campaign, a good project can only remain a good project on paper and not be implemented.
Such initiatives show what citizens really need because it is them, and not the authorities, who prepare projects. So, don’t miss out on a good opportunity and take advantage of your participatory budgets!
Without a successful information campaign, a good project can only remain a good project on paper and not be implemented.
Tetiana Romanova, regional coordinator of the Transparent Cities program