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What would happen if citizens got together to decide collectively how budgets are spent? Participatory budgeting began in Brazil, where it is used in more than 100 cities, and has just recently spread to the United States. council member Brad Lander helped to spearhead the efforts of eight New York City council members to put their capital budgets, totaling around $10 million, up to this democratic process. He will speak about the vision, the benefits, and the challenges of this exciting new experiment in urban democracy. Somerville’s Mayor Curtatone has also placed renewed emphasis on the importance of involving citizens in planning. Somerville’s ResiStat program engages residents in forums in each of the city’s seven wards, as well as with specific populations, multiple times each year. These forums provide opportunities for citizens to discuss neighborhood development, challenges, and solutions with city officials and with the Mayor. What impact have these forums had? How does citizen participation transform government? Mayor Curtatone will share his thoughts.