Sure, your first priority this weekend probably involves lying in the grass with a margarita blender, but don’t let the lurvley weather keep you from doing your civic duty. Between an epic town hall on the Lower East Side and the launch of Participatory Budgeting in North Brooklyn, in the next days you’ll have some choice opportunities to bend the ears — and pull at the pursestrings — of the city and state’s power players.
This Sunday, from 2-5pm, State Senator Daniel Squadron hosts the seventh annual 26th District Community Convention at the Lower East Side Preparatory High School (145 Stanton St.). A release from his office touts the event as “a forum that can lead to change in the district, City and State.”
The afternoon includes a keynote speech delivered by U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer and 15 moderated discussion groups. These breakout discussions will focus on a variety of topics from tenant’s rights to parks, ethics reform, and social justice, and Squadron’s website states that the groups are “critical in shaping my work at home and in Albany.”
Besides State Senator Squadron and U.S. Senator Schumer, other officials in attendance will include Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, Public Advocate Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assemblymembers Joseph Lentol and Jo Anne Simon, and Councilmembers Margaret Chin and Corey Johnson. The event is open to all, and those interested in attending may RSVP online or by calling Senator Squadron’s office at 212-298-5565.
Participatory Budgeting, another opportunity for democratic involvement, also starts this weekend on Saturday, April 11, and runs through Sunday, April 19. The initiative, which started in 2011, allows residents to vote on how to allocate part of their Councilmembers’ discretionary funds. This year, 24 Councilmembers are participating, including Stephen Levin of the 33rd Council District (serving Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Williamsburg, DUMBO, Greenpoint, Bed-Stuy and Vinegar Hill) and Antonio Reynoso of the 34th Council District (serving Bushwick, Williamsburg, and Ridgewood). Residents as young as 14 can vote in both districts.
Projects to be voted on in the 33rd and 34th Districts include everything from pedestrian safety, to renovated NYCHA playgrounds, updated libraries, and upgraded school and senior center bathrooms. Information on all the projects is available online, and also at Project Expos in each participating District. The 33rd District will be displaying its projects at McCarren Park Play Center (776 Lorimer St.) on Saturday, April 18 from noon to 5pm, and at the YWCA (30 3rd Ave.) on Sunday, April 19 from noon to 5pm. The 34th District will be exhibiting at El Puente (211 S. 4th St.) on Saturday, April 11, from noon to 4pm and again at Make the Road (301 Grove St.) on Thursday, April 16 from 5-8pm. A full list of voting locations, dates, and times for the 33rd District is available here, and for the 34th District here; all voters must present an acceptable form of ID.