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Author Biography

Behrang Foroughi is an Assistant Professor at the Arizona State University where he teaches in the areas of Community Leadership, Social Innovation, and International Development. His community development research and practice involves working with nomadic and indigenous communities, non-profit leaders and social activists in the Middle East and North America.

Abstract

Participatory Budgeting (PB) is currently practiced in more than a dozen of American cities. It is indicated by the White House as best practice in civic engagement and by scholars as a new wave of democratic innovation. With the enthusiastic spread of PB in the US, it is imperative to continuously integrate reflective learning to sustain and enhance its impact. In this paper, I share learning drawn form the practice of PB at the Toronto Community Housing (TCH), highlighting a host of communicative and procedural challenges, hindering the growth of collaborative partnerships among the management, staff and the tenants. I demonstrate that the stakeholders have developed differing perspectives and multiple experiences with regard to tenant participation, and in consequence, participation has been molded into a rather confusing format. The weakest link, I argue, has been a lack of deliberation on a participatory vision: what it is that PB and tenant participation must achieve.