Come for the pizza, stay for the power

It is after business hours in Boston’s cavernous City Hall, but down an escalator, past shuttered service windows and darkened offices, the day’s activity is just beginning. Fifteen high school students have gathered in a room, grabbed pizza slices, opened laptops and are preparing to spend the next two hours deciding how to spend a million dollars.

Anthony Cardarelli, 15, drops his backpack and takes a seat. He is a newcomer at the meeting, and only came because his mother thought it was a good idea. He is soon startled to hear that the meeting will help allocate real city money, for real projects. “I thought it would be a simulation,” Carderelli says. “now I have to be a thousand times more serious!”

The teens are part of Boston’s Youth Lead the Change initiative, a participatory budgeting programme that draws young people firmly into annual cycles of municipal decision-making. This year, a two-month phase of public crowdsourcing has generated more than 700 ideas. Now committees of “change agents” like Cardarelli are working to distill those ideas to a few feasible proposals. In May, there will be a public vote, open only to Bostonians from 12-25, to choose which proposals get the green light.

Read the full article at The Guardian


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