What do participants say about the CPU?

Máté Varga
President of Civil College Foundation
Budapest, Hungary

As a hosting organization of the CPU, we have both internal and external dimensions and feelings about the event. CPU has been developing year by year and 2016 also brought an important shift in planning and implementation. With the extension of the planning committee and the longer term planning process the whole event has become a more participative, reflective and democratic process.

We also made a shift with our contents as this year we had a more concrete, well framed and defined topic on climate change. This helped a lot to channel well the educational and the sharing flow as well as being more practical and future oriented. The climate change topic opened a window for most of the community workers and clarified the connections between the social and environmental threads.

"With the extension of the [CPU] planning committee and the longer term planning process the whole event has become a more participative, reflective and democratic process."

Chuck Hirt
Director of the Central and Eastern Citizens Network
Banská Bystrica, Slovakia

There was something different about this year’s CPU event for me. I have had the good fortune of attending all the previous CPU events and obviously find them of considerable value. But I have to say that this year’s event touched me in a more personal way.

I have certainly paid some attention to the problem of climate change for a number of years but it had always been something more of a distant and overwhelming problem. I have finally been really touched about this issue and have begun to have some hope that we can … and must … do something more concrete and local about it. I am committed to becoming more directly active in addressing this problem, particularly at the local level.

"The other significant impact of this year’s CPU has been to realize that the Citizens Network has the possibility of working on common issues like climate change."

The other significant impact of this year’s CPU has been to realize that the Citizens Network has the possibility of working on common issues like climate change. For years we have struggled to find connecting issues for activities like Citizen Participation Week and failed. But there was a realization that working on issues like climate change could make considerable sense and has led to a draft of a new direction for our Network.

Susan Guerra
Professional advisor; Municipal district Sagene,
Municipality of Oslo, Norway.

"There is no other place to learn about these issues in an integrated manner as how the CPU program has organized this; combining theory, methodology and exchange of best practices. "

My position with the city district of Sagene in Oslo is as a professional consultant in the Unit for Culture and Community Affairs. My tasks include coordinating community based area renewal and development, and I am the district coordinator of international projects.

The issues at the CPU in 2016 were of great relevance for my work, as issues of sustainability, the environment, climate challenges, and working with groups and citizens are directives from our local and citywide political councils. There is no other place to learn about these issues in an integrated manner as how the CPU program has organized this; combining theory, methodology and exchange of best practices. In my everyday work, I apply the methods and theory I learn at the CPU to our strategic planning and development of sustainability action plans.

2016 was the fourth year I have attended the annual CPU, and I consider it to be part of my professional continuing education. I am also able to contribute with methodology and exchange of experiences from my work as an administrator and professional in community development, which is an important perspective to share with NGOs.

nicu-cuta-photo-edited

Nicolae Cuta
Executive Director of the Social Economy Development Foundation, member in the Board of Trustees of the Central and Eastern European Citizens Network

As the founder and executive director of the Social Economy Development Foundation -one of the longest serving supporters of the social economy in Romania, I have trained over 100 social entrepreneurs and assisted the launch of numerous social enterprises in Romania.

At the last CPU I learned that for global problems—like the climate change—there are local solutions. The insight I gained from the CPU was that climate change can be both a cause and an effect of migration. For example, people are leaving places affected by long-term drought, but at the same time the places where they are going can be affected by pollution or shortages of resources (including water) caused by overpopulation.

"...I believe it is important to support in advance populations predisposed to emigrate in solving their problems at home. After attending the CPU I will focus on building several new social enterprises, especially in rural areas, because I think it is important to create autonomous models in Romania."

That’s why I believe it is important to support in advance populations predisposed to emigrate in solving their problems at home. For example I am focused on helping people from disadvantaged communities in Romania develop new social enterprises that create local jobs and stop the drain of resources from their communities. After attending the CPU I will focus on building several new social enterprises, especially in rural areas, because I think it is important to create autonomous models in Romania.