In March of 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the GSD was forced to move all instruction online and begin meeting remotely. In an effort to support students during this time (and with some funding that was freed up when Fall-funded projects were no longer able to be implemented due to building closures) the Healthy Places Design Lab decided to launch a second PB process. The Steering Committee (with the support of 4 student Research Assistants), in partnership with Student Forum, launched a COVID-19-Participatory Budgeting (PB) process of $7,000* to support community needs and to demonstrate the power of democratic decision making processes in times of crisis. This ‘rapid’ PB is designed to support the GSD community during the COVID-19 pandemic through funding equitable, feasible and time-sensitive ideas.
This decision was based on our belief that PB can be a tool to promote democracy and financial transparency as well as mental, physical and emotional health. While the COVID-19 pandemic caused many facets of GSD community and daily life to rapidly and drastically change, the response by decision makers at all levels was to sacrifice democracy and transparency in their responses, especially when it comes to monetary decisions.**
We ultimately received 16 project idea submissions from students, 2 of which were funded.
- The main Healthy Places project was What We have Gleaned on food insecurity.
- The second project was a set of summer educational workshops, the Summer Peer-Learning Sessions.
*The $7,000 is comprised of $3,000 from the Healthy Places Design Lab and $4,000 of Student Activity Fees from Student Forum
** We welcomed all entities at the GSD who were also considering what to do with their shifting monies to join us in this process, with the aim of building additional collaborators and finding sources of co-funding.