Citizens Have Their Say in the Design of Their City
What if citizens could mastermind a new district after it has been destroyed by an earthquake, or youth could decide on the city budget?
In 2010, a fatal earthquake followed by a tsunami hit Chile. The earthquake and the tsunami caused 500 casualties, from which one fourth were located in a small harbour town, Constitución. Recovery was not only decided upon by the experts. Ordinary citizens were invited to join in.
Plans involving ordinary city people are becoming the norm in more and more cities.The rebuilding plan of Constitución was created in a hundred days. Citizens were able to vote for a suitable protection system and they voted to plant a protective forrest on the top of one of the destroyed districts.
Youngsters have a say in their budget in Helsinki
Originally established in Brazil in the 1980's, public involved budgeting has spread around the world. In involving citizens in the budgeting, they are given a voice on the money used for public projects.
For example, Helsinki Youth Department lets youngsters decide on the money the city has budgeted for them. The results are very encouraging: in the districts where the youth are involved in designing new services, the visitor count at youth centres is increasing. Young people have also designed completely new services for other young people, such as training on what to do if you encounter a drunk person.
“We believe that democracy means doing. Involving budgeting gives strength to one's choices. Simultaneously, it brings up people's knowledge on how others experience that field – meaning empathy”, says the director of Helsinki Youth Department Tommi Laitio.
Push: Helsinki Youth Department lets the youngsters decide on how the money the city has budgeted for them is spent
Social Media Push: Public involvement in budgeting replaces officials with citizens. #democracy #involvingbudgeting