Sweltering in São Paulo

Sunday 2019_01_06

I spent most of today working on a presentation. One of our partners, Leandro Ramos, has contacted the relevant department of São Paulo’s city administration. It turns out they are very keen to hear how participatory budgeting (PB) works in Scotland. This is great, because

  1. I’m involved in setting up and running this year’s LeithChooses PB process, and so can speak from some experience of how a small group of dedicated, unpaid volunteers are working together to run and improved version of a civic process.
  2. We can hear from some people who know how PB in São Paulo really works.

So I spent most of today putting together a presentation explaining

  • how the UK is (for another few weeks, at least) subject to EU law
  • how Scotland is one of 4 nations within the UK, and the complex relationship between the UK and Scottish Parliaments and Governments. (It’s mostly set by the Scotland Act 1998, Scotland Act 2012 and the Scotland Act 2016, but there is also the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018, the fiscal framework [leading, inter alia, to the Scottish Government’s Medium Term Financial Strategy], and [I believe] decisions of the UK Supreme Court. Thanks indeed to my much better half for advice here!)
  • the relationship between the Scottish Government and the 32 Scottish local authorities
  • subdivisions of Edinburgh Council: 4 localities, 12 neighbourhood partnerships and 17 council wards; 46 community councils, of which 4 currently are inactive
  • sidebar: how I came to be interested in all of this
  • examples of PB in Edinburgh: how these are run by neighbourhood partnerships, community councils and councillors mostly, but that others are run by other bodies. (For example, Police Scotland recently disbursed £40,000 via a PB process to projects aimed at countering Islamophobia.)
  • an in-depth look at how LeithChooses works, as a long-standing example of PB in Scotland
  • the first, second and third generations of PB in Scotland (hat-tips to Oliver Escobar and Angela O’Hagan!)
  • ‘Community Choices and the Scottish Government/COSLA aims to mainstream PB in Scotland

I think that’s enough!

Side-notes: we had lunch again at the fast-food/pub at Largo da Batata (‘potato place’). There were some very interesting scents coming from the market and barbecue stalls surrounding a heavy metal gig in the open place. Then the heavens opened! Many concert-goers ran for cover, leaving only the really dedicated greebos to party on. It’s vaguely reassuring for me that metal-heads and Goths look the same the world over.

Diner was at the hotel restaurant: ceviches (normally seafood) but mine was a vegan version made with mangos and other fruit, with a rather tasty chilli sauce.

Monday 2019_01_07

Wegene and I read and plotted more in the morning, then were picked up by Hugo Watanuki, the PhD student who visited Napier last spring. He took us to a vegan/vegetarian place for lunch by a delightfully circuitous route. This was my first real experience of South American beans, salads, quinoa and many other good things.

Afterwards, Hugo took us to his institute to catch up with Renato and Leandro. Wegene and I explained the underpinnings of this visit. Renato also brought in his colleague Professora Titular Marly Moneiro de Carvalho, who researches sustainability and use of stakeholder theory in unconstituted areas. We could see that there are parallels between her field and PB: both are about systems of people banding together to achieve practical ends. She also has collaborations with other UK academics, so this could be quite a promising contact.

Afterwards, Hugo took Wegene, Leandro and me for a snack in another school in the university. (I think it was the engineering school.) Yet another veggieburger and chips – yay! He then took us to a traditional pub very close to our hotel, where a couple of small beers rounded off the day nicely.

I have to say that we have been treated wonderfully here – thank you all!

OK, enough Bruce-ramblings, on with the photos!


Chucking down on Saturday night (movie)

Ceviche vegano: mushrooms, mango and avocado marinaded in ‘leche de Tigre’ (lime juice, spices and pepper) and coconut milk

The oldest reinforced concrete building at USP – built by and housing the department of engineering!

It was rather warm.

a small beer!


very nice chilli sauce

Leandro, Hugo and Wegene (movie)

I was not drinking this – far too much sugar! It’s a caipirinha.

Leandro, Bruce, Wegene, Hugo


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