This Machine Has a Soul has concluded as of 2019.
The overarching goal of the project was to get the City of Denver to adopt Participatory Budgeting, and after 4 years of organizing, we were successful! The 2020 budget has $1.7 million for Denver's first PB process! Check here for lots of video and info about it
This Machine has a Soul! is a community project that combines participatory budgeting with artworks and performances inspired by Rube Goldberg machines.
You might be asking what one has to do with the other. Well, a Rube Goldberg machine takes a simple process and complicates it in a fun way. Designing budgets that allocate public funds is a complicated process involving countless people, interests, and systems. A Rube Goldberg machine is a perfect metaphor for the budgeting process and allows us to explore its themes of complexity and simplicity. More than this, the artwork they inspire serves as a fun and engaging entry point for discussions about the current model of local budgeting as it compares to participatory budgeting.
Participatory budgeting (PB) offers an alternative to the traditional model by giving a community a portion of public funds to spend on projects in their neighborhoods at their discretion. Communities come together to propose ideas for using funds to improve their neighborhoods, design project proposals, and host a vote to decide which projects are implemented. In a nutshell: PB gives citizens more than a voice in the decision-making process; it gives them real decision-making power over real money and puts the soul back into the machine.
This Machine has a Soul! is committed to bringing participatory budgeting to Denver by piloting two PB processes in District 9 with voting taking place by December 2018. Project Belay and resident leaders from the Cole neighborhood, will lead a pb process anchored in Cole and supported by participants who live, work, or attend school there. Students from Community College of Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and University of Colorado, Denver will lead a PB process on the Auraria campus with the help Project VOYCE staff, a local non-profit working with Denver youth to encourage civic engagement and action. Participants in each PB process will design and vote on project proposals that decide how $30,000 will be invested in their communities. Civic health club Warm Cookies of the Revolution along with other local artists will design artworks and performances that support the work of resident leaders and the PB process, and stir the imagination of District 9 residents, spurring artistic collaboration and civic action.
See below for recent updates, press, and events from this project