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News and Resources on Participatory Budgeting

Participatory Budgeting, or the process by which citizens deliberate and negotiate over the allocation of public resources, is growing into a world-wide movement. PB programs are implemented at the behest of governments, citizens, NGOs, and civil society, organizations to give citizens a direct role in deciding how and where public resources should be spent. Most citizens who participate in PB are low-income and have low levels of formal education. Historically, these groups have been excluded from budget decisions, but PB programs enable them to make choices that affect how their government acts. Participatory Budgeting was initially implemented in twelve Brazilian cities in 1989/1990. By 2005 it had spread to well over 300 municipalities in more than 40 countries, including China, Dominican Republic (see article below), Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Serbia, South Africa, Spain, and Uruguay. To share information and resources on participatory budgeting projects around the world, the International Bugeting Project (www.internationalbudget.org) has put together a website full of resources on participatory budgeting and a monthly newsletter. This month’s newsletter includes stories about new trends in budgeting, the impact of participatory budgeting on health outcomes and the relation of budgeting to the Paris riots, among other stories. To read this newsletter (and past issues), visit www.internationalbudget.org/resources/newsletter30.htm

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New Civic Engagement Opportunity: Join the Potluck Action Network

The Potluck Action Network (www.potluckactionnetwork.org), is building a network of thousands of potluck groups across Canada and the US, meeting in each other’s homes on a regular basis for the long term, to plan and experience active civic engagement. Each person in each potluck group of twelve commits to doing one progressive action of their own choosing per month, while discussing it and getting feedback from the other members of the group at the potlucks. Designed for members of every age, from ten through college through retirement, these groups have no leader but instead are guided by a “Chef” in the group, whose action focus is to ensure group continuity, inform the network of the group’s progress, and keep everyone meeting regularly, happy, engaged, and well fed. Each potluck group purposely works on a self-chosen set of topics, ensuring that each member stays interested and able to influence the directions and successes of the potluck group. Members of the Potluck Action Network believe that through learning about and acting on the issues we choose, we create experienced specialists on a variety of topics, guard against burnout, have fun, make lifelong friends, and create a network of people learning to create constructive changes, all while enjoying dessert.

Anyone can start a new group by visiting the website above and clicking on “start new group.” When you start a new Potluck group, you’ll become what is referred to as a “Chef”. You’re the person who makes sure the meetings happen, makes sure the group is working on multiple issues, and makes sure each meeting has a healthy dose of Food, Fun, and Action! Many groups use a pair of Co-Chefs, and the person who’s Chef can change over time. The ideal group size in the Potluck Action Network is 12. If you don’t have 12 members in mind right now (that’s usually the case), you probably have two. If they can each bring two, and those folks can bring two, you’re all set. Several groups have begun with meetings of 4 or 6 for several months till the word gets out, then they suddenly get to 12 members. Or your first meeting may have more than 12, and that’s ok too. The point is to have that first meeting and work to make it a good one. As a Chef, you will be supported and mentored by the Chefs of two other groups in the Potluck Action Network.

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Civic Ventures Launches Purpose Prize in Support of Older Social Innovators

Civic Ventures (www.civicventures.org), a nonprofit think tank, has announced that nominations are open for the Purpose Prize, five $100,000 investments in Americans over the age of sixty who are combining their passion, creativity, experience, and entrepreneurial skills to tackle issues of social significance. The program will also honor sixty semi-finalists (“60 at 60+”) for their social innovations. The winners will be effective and action-oriented innovators who have launched this work after their 50th birthday. They may be working in nonprofits, government, or for-profit organizations devoted to tackling difficult social challenges, including homelessness, social justice and human rights, violence, poverty and hunger, health, education, and the environment. To be eligible for the prize, the nominee must be at least 60 years old, a U.S. resident, and currently working in a leadership capacity in an organization or institution (public, private, nonprofit, or for-profit) to address a major social problem. Due to resource limitations, the prize program staff cannot consider applications from individuals whose work primarily takes place outside the United States. Nominees will be informed in March 2006 if they have been selected as semi-finalists for the prize. The five winners will be announced in June at the national Experience Leadership Summit. In addition to the $100,000 cash prize, winners will receive substantive assistance in developing their personal and organizational capacity to move their work to the next level. They will also be eligible to apply for additional financial support from the program’s new Fund for Innovation. Self-nominations are accepted. Visit the Purpose Prize Web site (www.leadwithexperience.org/prize/nominate/index.cfm) for complete program information and nomination procedures. The deadline for nominations is February 28, 2006.

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National Teach-In Mini-Grants Available for Peer Teaching About American Issues

Youth for Justice (www.youthforjustice.org), a national law-related education consortium funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the United States Department of Justice (ojjdp.ncjrs.org), is inviting one hundred middle and high school classes across the United States to teach others about the fundamental ideas of American democracy through the Third Annual National Teach-In celebration of National & Global Youth Service Day (www.ysa.org/nysd) and National Law Day. The first one hundred classes to register will receive a mini-grant of $200, which may be used to buy materials to conduct their teach-in, provide law-related education resources for their class or school library, host a teach-in conference with another school, or donate to a school club or charity. Participating classes must agree to select a lesson from the National Teach-In Web site they want to conduct for a teach-in between April 17 and May 7, 2006; report their activity to Youth for Justice; and write to their representative in Congress about their work. For complete program information, visit the National Teach-In Web site at www.crfc.org/ti_faq06.html. Applications for mini-grants are due by January 31, 2006.

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Glenna Gerard Launches New Website

Glenna Gerard, co-author of the landmark 1998 book “DIALOGUE: Rediscover the Transforming Power of Conversation,” has just launched a new website at www.glennagerard.net. Inviting all to check out her new site, Glenna writes, “This site is my personal offering, born of my listening for “what is mine to do and be at this time”. I hope you will enter, breathe deeply, and allow yourself to rest into your own unique listening of what this site evokes and nurtures in you.”

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Nonviolent Peaceforce Seeking Field Staff for its Team in Sri Lanka

Nonviolent Peaceforce is an international NGO with over 90 member organizations from around the world. In partnership with local groups, their field team members apply nonviolent strategies to protect human rights, deter violence, and help create space for local peacemakers to carry out their work. The mission of the Nonviolent Peaceforce is to build a trained, international civilian peaceforce committed to nonviolent intervention. They are currently seeking candidates to refill and expand the deployment of peace workers in Sri Lanka. The minimum length of service is 18 months. Fluency in English is a requirement. Interested applicants will find the application form as well as other relevant information on the website at: nvpf.org/np/english/srilanka/ftm05dec.asp.html. Applications will be accepted until the 23rd of December.

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Alexia Foundation for World Peace Invites Applications for Professional and Student Photography Awards

The Alexia Foundation for World Peace (www.alexiafoundation.org) is dedicated to helping professional and student photographers produce photographs that promote world peace and cultural understanding. The foundation is accepting applications for the following programs:

1. Professional Grant: The Alexia Foundation offers the Professional Grant to enable a photographer to have the financial ability to produce a substantial picture story that furthers the foundation’s goals of promoting world peace and cultural understanding. The recipient of the grant will receive $15,000 for the production of the proposed project. Any photographer may apply for this grant. Proposals that have received grants or awards exceeding $1,000 in the previous calendar year are not eligible. The award is for an individual photographer. Collaborative applications are not accepted. The deadline is January 16, 2006.

2. Student Competition: The Alexia Foundation provides partial scholarships for graduate and undergraduate students to study photojournalism at Syracuse University in London, England. The award program also provides cash grants to enable student photographers to produce a picture story that furthers the foundation’s goals of promoting world peace and cultural understanding. The first-place Student Award provides a $9,000 scholarship and a grant of $1,000; the second-place Student Award provides a $6,000 scholarship and a grant of $500; and three Awards of Special Recognition provide scholarships of $1,600 and grants of $500. Alexia Scholars are responsible for the balance of tuition and fees for the semester in London. All scholarships are contingent upon admission to the Syracuse University DIPA London Program. The Deadline is February 1, 2006.

Visit the Alexia Foundation Web site for complete program guidelines and application procedures.

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Ploughshares Fund Offers Support for Projects to Prevent Spread of Weapons

The Ploughshares Fund (www.ploughshares.org), a public grantmaking foundation, makes grants to support initiatives aimed at preventing the spread and use of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and other weapons of war, and to prevent conflicts that could lead to the use of weapons of mass destruction. The fund invests in a wide range of innovative and practical programs, from scientific research, to media, to behind-the-scenes dialogue, to grassroots organizing and even lobbying. Ploughshares supports both organizations and individuals working to stop the spread of weapons and build regional security. The fund can make grants for direct lobbying programs, and there are no geographical restrictions on grants. Requests for two-year grants will be considered. The fund does not finance the production of films, video-tapes, or books. It also does not fund the research and writing of academic dissertations. Visit the Ploughshares Web site for complete grant program guidelines and information on funded projects. Deadlines for applications are February 15 and July 15, 2006.

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EPA Announces Air Innovations Grant

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just posted a series of Air Innovations Grant announcements on their website at epa.gov/air/grants_funding.html. In particular, the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (OAQPS) is seeking applications from states, territories, Indian Tribes, and possessions of the U.S., including the District of Columbia, international organizations, public and private universities and colleges, hospitals, laboratories, other public or private nonprofit institutions, which propose projects with significant technical merit and relevance to EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation’s mission. For certain competitive funding opportunities, the Agency may limit eligibility to a particular subset of eligible applicants consistent with the Agency’s competition policy. Applicants have until 5:00pm January 6, 2006 to submit applications/proposals. Visit the weblink above for details.

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Udall Foundation Invites Applications for Environmental Public Policy and Conflict Resolution Dissertation Fellowship

The Morris K. Udall Foundation (www.udall.gov) annually awards two one-year fellowships of up to $24,000 to doctoral candidates in the U.S. whose research concerns environmental public policy and/or environmental conflict resolution and who are entering their final year of writing their dissertation. Dissertation fellowships are open to scholars in all fields of study whose dissertation topic has significant relevance to U.S. national environmental public policy and/or environmental conflict resolution. Previous fellows’ fields of study include political science; economics; government; environmental science, policy, and management; ecology; environmental justice; regional planning; geography; natural resource policy; and environmental analysis and design. Cross or inter-disciplinary projects are particularly welcome. Each applicant must have completed all coursework and passed all preliminary exams; have approval for the dissertation research proposal by February 3, 2006; be entering the final year of writing the dissertation; and be a U.S. citizen, U.S. permanent resident, or U.S. national. Ph.D. candidates who hold a fellowship for the purpose of writing the dissertation during the year preceding or coinciding with the Udall Fellowship are not eligible. Fellowships are intended to cover both academic and living expenses from July 1, 2006, through June 30, 2007. Visit the Udall Foundation Web site for complete program information and application procedures. The deadline for this fellowship application is February 3, 2006.

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