The biggest challenge may be that, as with any democratic process, success depends on widespread participation. But many Chicagoans struggling just to get by have little time or energy for extra projects, especially if they feel alienated and disillusioned by city government. This could be particularly true for underserved low-income people and people of color, who potentially have the most to gain through participatory budgeting, but see the process dominated by wealthier people with more time on their hands.
“When you’re used to things being told to you and demanded of you, and you never have a voice, you can be a little leery,” said Lawson, noting that her neighbors are increasingly interested in participatory budgeting since learning about her murals. “It’s a process, it’s important we keep at it year after year, so it becomes a norm.”
Go to the GEO front page