Why should local authorities obtain new culture of community governance?

Let’s imagine that you are a community head. You are interested in cultural development of your community and ready for resolute actions. You’ve got several possible scenarios…  

 Make SOMETHING on your own and at your own risk, basing on your image of what community members want
• Decisively delay this SOMETHING to the better times, when there is money, initiative community members, and generally life in the country is got right
• Make WHAT IS NEEDED to the community members, but NECESSARILY with their participation

Each scenario has its advantages and disadvantages, but what is more important -CONSEQUENCES:
• In the first case community dwellers can be unpleasantly surprised with the ‘welfare’, granted them by the community initiative head or will get used to the fact their voice and opinions do not have any impact on the community life
 In the second case changes within the community are conserved, nothing new is created, community blames village head for omission, and village head blames his cohabitees for being passive
 In the third case community decisions, which might be made slower, but more consciously, are cooperative, and community takes the responsibility for the initiatives it offers

Actually, the last case is an example of all-European practice and culture of community governance, when changes, based on the diversity of real problems, are initiated by the villagers themselves, who become responsible for their own development.

In order to create new practices and culture of governance inside the local communities, during June-July 2013 local communities of Kyiv region had general meetings in the format of open spaces. These meetings were arranged in the framework of the project Equal opportunities for national minorities and disadvantaged groups in realizing cultural rights: richness through diversity. Open space format allows planning and implementing the desired changes democratically.

Communities of Borodianka, Novy Korohod, Druzhnia (Borodianka rayon), Kalynivka, Semypolky (Brovary rayon), Velyka Berezianka (Tarashcha rayon), Fursy (Bila Tserkva rayon), Radynka (Polissia rayon), Ivankiv (Ivankiv rayon) were searching an answer to the question What kinds of initiatives are needed for cultural development of my community?

Open spaces gathered more than four hundred people of different age and profession, with different world-views and interests, allowing to discuss cultural problems of community and to envisage their possible solutions. Open space approach gives an opportunity to understand, that everybody’s opinion is valuable, because each participant could offer his/her own topic for discussion. As a result, community members initiated more than 50 new projects, supported with the specified activities for their implementation.

Community representatives of Borodianka (Borodianka rayon) concentrated their efforts on dealing with 18 core problems. Cultural life of the community is intended to be developed by the initiatives Art-School оf Borodianka, Modern Library for Children, Creation of Active Recreation Zone etc. Community representatives are sure, that channelling efforts in these directions might change the cultural image of the village.

Topical cultural initiatives were also vividly discussed in Velyka Berezianka of Tarashcha rayon. There the conclusion was made, that attention of community should be focused first of all on the following initiatives: Creation Proper Conditions for Brass Band Rehearsals, Establishment of Women’s Club (for Women of All Ages Who Know Traditions and Handicrafts), Creation of Children Playground in ‘Shpyl’ Neighbourhood. Participants suggested having similar meetings more often, because this format is useful for generating new ideas, which can be put into life in their village.

Community of Druzhnia, Bordianka rayon, offered the following projects: Organization of sports club, Recreation park: visit card of the village, Development of project documentation for the centre of culture and recreation. People of Druzhnia believe, that different issues are set in motion particularly due to the increasing number of people who djoined to the process of problem solution in the village.

In Kalynivka of Brovary rayon participants of the meeting offered eight projects, including: Establishment of Art-Cafe, Place for Cultural Recreation for Parents and Their Children with a Playground, Museum of the Village Inside the House of Culture.

Representatives of Novy Korohod of Borodianka rayon focused their attention on several topical issues: organization of circles for children development, intensification of youth centre activity and organization of ‘leisure for those beyond…’, organization of amateur art activities. These ones became the focal point for community’s cultural initiatives, which are supposed to be implemented soon after the meeting.

How to create successful CSO?, What is the best way to create a recreational zone near the Tatar lake? These urgent issues were discussed by thecommunity of Semypolky (Brovary rayon). As a result, three projects were represented — Sportsground near the School, Cso Creators of the Future, Creation of Recreation Zone near the Tatar Lake.

No less productive was the Fursy community of Bila Tserkva rayon. Nearly 60 participants elaborated the wide range of initiatives: Spirit of Nation Lies in the Popular Traditions, Leisure of Preschool Age Children in Chmyrivka, What Library Do We Want yo See in Fursy, Future of the Children Is in Our Hands and others.

In Radynka of Polissia rayon community representatives also elaborated several new cultural initiatives, such as Establishment of Interest Club ‘Courage’, and Seniors Club (for those, who over age of 50).

As a result of the open space arranged in Ivankiv (Ivankiv rayon) the representatives of local community intend to implement initiatives as following: Decorating the Central Square of Ivankiv in Mariia Pryimachenko Style, Establishment of the ‘Real Lady’ Women’s Club, Creating Conditions for Active Leisure in Neighbourhoods, New Museum of Regional Ethnography.

Along with the issues in the sphere of culture, the initiatives to solve other community problems eventually arose: night-time illumination of the streets, water treating in ponds, reconstruction of the village sewer system, need for dwelling for the young families, enhancing financial competence of the population, etc.

Unexpectedly for themselves, participants of the open spaces events dismantled the stereotypes about the passiveness of fellow villagers and the indispensable need in considerable financing for implementation of desired changes.

After the arrangement of open space event each community was given a book summarising the discussions of the existing problems within the community, including ideas for the solutions and agreed time and place for the next meeting of initiative groups. This work tool will become reminder of own promises and incentive to implement the planned activities.

Publication was created within the project Equal opportunities for national minorities and disadvantaged groups in realizing cultural rights: richness through diversity, which is being implemented by GURT Resource Centre with the support of European Union.

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