Brad Lander is a "champion of change"
By Raanan Geberer & the Associated Press
A Brooklyn councilman is being honored by President Barack Obama.
Brad Lander, a Democrat whose district stretches from Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens to Windsor Terrace and Kensington, was elected to the council in 2009. He'll be named a "Champion of Change" at a Tuesday ceremony at the White House.
Lander is being honored for making the public a part of his budget process. His constituents — rather than the councilman — decide how $1 million in discretionary funds are spent on a yearly basis.
The process is known as “participatory budgeting,” and it began in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 1989 before spreading to other parts of the world. The most recent projects in Lander’s district to be funded by participatory budgeting include computers and renovated bathrooms for several local schools, pedestrian and traffic improvements for busy Church Avenue, and more street trees for Third Avenue in Gowanus.
Eight of the council's 51 members now participate in the program that Lander introduced in New York City. In Brooklyn, participants include Council Members Steve Levin (D-Brookyln Heights-Williamsburg), David Greenfield (D-Borough Park-Midwood) and Jumaane Williams (D-Flatbush-East Flatbush-Canarsie).
The White House says Obama created Champions of Change to honor people and groups that "positively impact" their communities.
Before being elected as councilman, Lander served as the director, at different times, of two community development corporations -- the Fifth Avenue Committee and the Pratt Center for Community Developmentl. The Fifth Avenue Committee covers the areas of Red Hook, Gowanus, Sunset Park and Lower Park Slope.