Let's not wait for the central, let's create locally!

ekopolis event photo1

On April 28, an event called "Nečakajme na ncentrálne, vytvárajme lokálne!“ (Let's not wait for the central, let's create locally!) took place in Košice, Eastern Slovakia

The beginning of 2022 found us unprepared for a war conflict in the immediate vicinity of our country. A situation has arisen where we are faced with the arrival of war refugees. New residents came and are still coming to the individual regions of Slovakia - towns and villages. We don't know how long they will stay, some may never leave.

In such cases, it is necessary to start not only their integration, but also completely natural inclusion. However, inclusion cannot be implemented without the involvement of local civil society communities.

The participants together with the organizers searched for solutions, how they can not only in this tense situation, but in general protect and develop democratic principles at the regional level, why we need to network with each other, why it is not possible for central institutions to ensure functioning local societies without their participation.

At the same time, there was a discussion about why it is necessary for central institutions to realize the importance of support for the creation of such functioning and cooperating local communities and communities.

The aim of the event was to mobilize civil society, namely cultural and community centers, as bearers of democratic values ​​in the regions and to contribute to the discussion about the state and ways of developing civil society in the regions of Slovakia. The leading Slovak sociologist Michal Vašečka opened the event with a lecture combined with a workshop "How to create functional local democratic communities". He provided the participants with not only a theoretical introduction to the issue, but also practical solutions and suggestions for building such communities in an often demanding social environment.

The joint lunch was followed by a panel discussion from the Summit for democracy series, on the topic: "How can state institutions in cooperation with civil society strengthen the emergence of local democratic communities?". Discussants in the moderated panel debate were: State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic Ingrid Brocková, Ambassador for Human Rights Peter Burian, Director of the Carpathian Foundation Laura Dittel, Government Plenipotentiary for Civil Society Filip Vagač and Chairman of Anténa - network for independent culture Michal Klembara. The discussion was moderated by Zuzana Wienk from the Bystriny civic association. The speakers presented not only their activities in the field of civil society development, but also reflected on current challenges and comments, or observations from the audience.

The end of the event was dedicated to a workshop led by Karin Sedláková, an expert in communication and social networks. During the workshop "How to work with social networks and prevent the toxic influence of the disinfo scene on democratic values in society?", the participants of the event got acquainted with the basic principles of spreading information on social networks, their specific impact on the state and values of society, but also with knowledge from practice acquired during the recent global pandemic. The conclusion of the workshop was in the spirit of an intergenerational confrontation regarding the impact of social networks on our daily lives and the necessity of fighting misinformation in the online space.

At the very end, informal networking took place during dinner.

The event was attended by more than 50 participants, mainly representatives of civil society, but also representatives of the state administration, the academic community and the wider public.

Photo: Gabriela Birošová