Around the world, governments large and small are exploring Participatory Budgeting. This is a process of democratic deliberation and decision-making, and a type of participatory democracy, in which ordinary people decide how to allocate part of a municipal or public budget. Participatory Budgeting allows citizens to identify, discuss, and prioritise public spending projects and gives them the power to make real decisions about how money is spent. Put another way, it’s like crowdsourcing feedback on the spending of public funds. When Participatory Budgeting is taken seriously and is based on mutual trust, local governments and citizens can benefit equally. In some cases, Participatory Budgeting even raised people’s willingness to pay taxes. Until recently, North Americans have lagged behind their European and South American counterparts at apathetically low rates. By the end of 2012, North America was estimated as having completed barely a handful of Participatory Budgeting projects while the rest of the world had completed thousands – (see graphic, below).  While it was estimated that the current world total of projects completed is somewhere around 1500, Canadians and Americans had probably delivered around ten – and that’s being generous. As the self-proclaimed purveyors and protectors of democracy, surely North Americans would have found these statistics…

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