Design for America - Participatory Budgeting Project


Design for America is a student organization making a social impact through design. During spring semester of my freshman year I worked on a team partnered with January Advisors in order to develop a new participatory budgeting system for Houston. I worked on this team of Rice undergraduates.

Jake Peacock, Christina Hahn, Robyn Terrgrosa, Micael Moran

We began by meeting with our community partner, January Advisors, and selecting a community on which we can prototype the system (eventually deciding on Bellaire). We quickly became experts on everything related to participatory budgeting, understanding what it is, and where it is being used around the nation. In short, participatory budgeting is a system that gives citizens control over a segment of public spending. Here are some photos taken at our team meetings illustrating us working through what participatory budgeting is and how our team can be most useful in implementing it in Houston this semester.


After deliberating with the community partner, we decided to tackle the problem of awareness of participatory budgeting in the Bellaire community. This is our "how can we" statement:

How can we simplify and communicate the PB process so various users in Bellaire have the understanding, ability, and incentive to participate?

After brainstorming several possible ways of responding to this "how can we," we settled on making a card that can be mailed to Bellaire citizens. Here is some photos of our initial brainstorming.


As we began to prototype solutions and ended up on the following card before heading out for user interviews.




In order to get user feedback on our design, we went to a public park in Bellaire and conducted casual interviews. Here is an excerpt of our notes from that day.

From these interviews, we discovered that the water tower was not a source of pride, the colors did not make a lot of sense, and the wide open space on the back did left the user feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to put down. As a result, we replaced the water tower with a vector of the trolley in the center of the town and gave the user more direction on the back of the card.




Check out the slides for the presentation we gave at Final Review.

Other projects like this: Hermann Park Installations

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