The People’s Budget: Year 1

  • location


  • Neighborhood


  • completion date

    July 01, 2021

About the Project 

Stitching our Futures was a participatory art project, part of A People’s Budget series, by Phoebe Bachman and Jesse Krimes that brought Philadelphians together to learn about the city’s budgetary process and imagine the possibilities of re-allocating funds towards community investment on their own terms. Participants were invited to attend a series of online teach-Ins hosted by artist Phoebe Bachman with grassroots advocates and city representatives speaking about their priorities for the upcoming budget cycle.

The teach-ins were organized into five events that focused on the following themes:

How we exchange and steward
Without the thriving small business community of Philadelphia, the city just wouldn’t feel nearly as alive. Even though COVID hit small businesses hard, we are still an innovative center for alternative economies, minority-owned businesses, and sustainable initiatives. This discussion will look at the current budget allocated to support both industrial and small-scale commercial activities, concerns for sustainability, and ask participants to imagine how the budget can better support independent businesses and improve working conditions for all.

How we heal and protect our community
Defunding the police and investing in alternative public safety measures continue to be urgent cries in Philadelphia and cities across the country. What does it look like to maintain public safety and create space for people to heal from centuries of harm and injustice – centering on how Black, Brown, and immigrant communities have been targeted? In this workshop, we will interrogate the ways in which communities are currently protected and what investment in transformative and restorative justice looks like.

How we learn and grow
City services are the foundation for many of us to learn and grow. Schools, museums, libraries, festivals, public art, and so much more are supported by city funding. Unfortunately, not every school district or neighborhood is given the same support or opportunities. Join us for a discussion about the different ways we can learn from, and what resources we need to ensure our city is educated, vibrant, and full of culture and creativity.

How we live and share space
From housing to energy production, public space to waste management, and urban planning to utilities – infrastructure makes our cities livable. These shared services – both physical and systemic – are funded by us. Join us for a conversation about the infrastructure we need to prioritize to create equitable, sustainable, and accessible cities.

How we govern and administrate
The city government requires a base level of funding to keep services running and to keep government workers paid and pensioned. Over the last few decades, administrative costs in just about every institution have increased. This workshop will look at allocations for administrative jobs, benefits for city employees, debt servicing, city maintenance, and opportunities to innovate the city’s governance and revenue models.

Participants were then asked to create quilt squares that depicted their budget priorities. Working through a materially-specific process rooted in the American tradition of quilt-making, these quilted squares were pieced together to form powerful quilts; a patchwork vision of Philadelphian’s stories of community investment and the place of each individual in the fabric of our city. The quilts were publicly displayed at Eastern State Penitentiary to foster conversations about the city budget and citizen-led priorities.

Artist Team

Jesse Krimes

Phoebe Bachman


City of Philadelphia


The City of Philadelphia Budget Office, Social Justice Sewing Academy, Philadelphia Modern Quilt Guild