A total of 18 people from nine non-profit organizations in Central and Eastern Europe came together in the beginning of April for a three-day inspirational meeting in Prague. The meeting was part of our international program ViabilityNet 3.0 and gave the participants a chance to share experience from their community work in their respective countries.
The rise of populism, the out-migration of talented people from villages to cities, and increasing divisions across society. These are problems that Central and Eastern Europe countries share.
We met with organizations that are trying to address these problems in their own countries – i.e. in Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania.
It was the fourth meeting of the CEE Network, a Via Foundation initiative that brings together people from likeminded organizations – organizations just like Via Foundation, which are trying to engage people in improving their communities in collaborative ways.
The issue we talked about most at the meeting was polarization and fragmentation of society, which all of the Central and Eastern Europe countries are facing. In Poland, for example, there is a dividing line between conservatives and pro-EU liberals – and our partner organization Szkola Liderow is trying to help heal this divide. Szkola Liderow trains local elected officials in good governance and also opens discussion about how liberals and conservatives can find common ground.
Since it was the last in our series of CEE Network meetings, we focused on how the partner organizations can continue to work together in mini-collaborations.
The Hungarian and Bulgarian organizations plan on exchanging their community development approaches with each other, while the Slovakian partner organization Nadacia Pontis will share how it encourages companies to be socially responsible and how to make it easy for companies to be charitable. Meanwhile a Via Foundation team is going to visit Szkola Liderow to learn from their expertise. We’re very interested in their work because we’re going to launch a new program soon at Via to encourage community leaders to enter local politics in the spirit of civic engagement.