Beyond the News

A MitOst Blog


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There is always a possibility to take action…

By Naila Ismayilova from Azerbaijan who attended the CitizensLab network meeting in Brussels as a winner of the “shadow visit lottery” for MitOst members.

Who is an active citizen? What kind of action should be taken in order to achieve significant change in a particular society? How can people from different fields of activity get together and join forces for a common future? I had lots of questions in my mind when I received an email from the CitizenLab team stating that I would be invited to attend the programme’s second network meeting in Brussels. 
I would like to highlight that this experience has a special place in my life, starting with the fact that it was the first time I ever won a lottery. I took it as a good sign, because in my culture we believe that the way you start a year it will continue all along.  Continue reading


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Berlin mayor Michael Müller meets social entrepreneurs in Moscow

Event summary by Peter Correll
Photos: Yuriy Fokin

During his first three-day visit to Moscow in mid-March, the governing mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, wanted to refresh municipal ties with the twin city Moscow, but also explicitly wished to get in touch with civil society. On request of his office, MitOst and Impact Hub Moscow organised a Round Table with social start-up’s to which social entrepreneurs, politicians, independent experts as well as representatives of foundations and cooperations found their way. 

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Cycling in Moldova: a crazy idea or the only way to go?

The MitOst alumni project #BikesCrossBorders wants to foster cycling in Moldova. An article by initiator Julian Gröger about what it means to use a bike in Moldova.

When I was teaching at the ULIM University in Chisinau as a fellow of the Lectureship Programme of the Robert Bosch Stiftung (2007-2009), I used to come to work by bike. Many of my students were at least irritated, if not disappointed by this fact. They hoped that I would bring in modern elements from the promised West…and not cycling. In Moldova, cycling is still considered as something only poor village people use who cannot afford other means of transport. The bike arouses associations like dirty clothes, bad smell, alcohol, village road, mud and elderly people. In post-soviet societies, the bike, unfortunately, has an image problem: civilized people in modern towns and cities should at least go by trolley bus if not by car.
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The three grandmothers – or sharing “gifts” from the MitOst Festival

An article by Argyro Barata, FEAST Greece and CitizensLab member

When I attend a big international event, I always have in mind what the outcome of my participation will be. Will it inspire me? Will I be able to implement any new ideas back home? How could I spread the knowledge gained to my peers? And of course I had the same thoughts during the 14th International MitOst Festival in Tbilisi, Georgia, which I chose as one of my CitizensLab mobility grant hosts. The plethora of festival’s events drew my attention and my main focus was to explore successful examples of vibrant local communities, to understand the tactics around building them, and lastly to find new tools to empower them. Continue reading


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You can stop hiding now!

According to the author of this article, the “dissemination and exploitation of results” seems to be the Achilles heel of socio-cultural projects. How can great initiatives become more visible – and thus accessible – to a wider public?

An article by Magdalena Lapshin
Photos by Costanze Flamme, Magdalena Lapshin, Hawila and Head4Arts

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Urban Change Talk: “Bologna – a Laboratory for Urban Commons?”

In Bologna, a commons-friendly public administration is trying to do things differently and encourages the participatory and sustainable shaping of city spaces. How to include different sectors of society in joint projects and how to overcome obstacles in the process – these were some of the questions open for discussion during the “Urban Change Talk: Bologna – a Laboratory for Urban Commons?” which took place in January 2017 at Tazcafé Berlin.*

An event summary by Dr. Martin Schwegmann (MitOst /Actors of Urban Change)
Photos by Marcus Müller-Witte
16486959_1324755804252038_3672950169587482855_oGuests:
Prof. Christian Iaione (LabGov – LABoratorio per la GOVernance dei beni comuni, Rome)
Giovanni Ginocchini (Director of the URBAN CENTER BOLOGNA)
Marco Clausen (Prinzessinnengarten/Nachbarschaftsakademie, Berlin)
Dr. Mary Dellenbaugh (Urban Research Group “Urban Commons,” Humboldt Universität Berlin) Continue reading


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Velociped Festival – or how to make a first step

Did you always want to organise something interesting and impactful? Do you have amazing ideas all the time and a burning desire to positively change your environment? But in the end, and out of different reasons, it rarely actually happens? This is how I and my friend Vlad felt half a year ago when we heard of an opportunity to get support from MitOst for a socially relevant project.
1-downhill-contestAn article by Mikalai Vincheuski, one of the organisers of the bicycle festival and MitOst member project “Velociped” that took place 20 to 21 August 2016 in Belarus 
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Sparkle in the eye

Whenever I start a training session, the first question I ask my participants is: what is your trigger? What brings you to the point of making or creating something? How do you start working on your ideas?

Teo_Tbilisi

An article by Teona Dalakishvili, founder of Creative Development Center (Georgia) and member of the MitOst festival team 2016. The article was first published in MitOst Magazin #28
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Fırsatı Yakala Turkey: non-violent communication in violent times

By Hatice Yildirim (coordination team of Take the Chance – Fırsatı Yakala, the Theodor-Heuss-Kolleg cooperation programme in Turkey)
military coupIn its fifth programme year in Turkey, the Take the Chance – Fırsatı Yakala coordination team had planned to have a special educational year for the participants and alumni. Our Kick-off Seminar was supposed to take place 14-20 July 2016 in Siirt, Southeast of Anatolia. When we facilitators arrived on 12 July for preparations, there was already a big fear because the Eastern part of Turkey was not so safe. In the beginning, everything was kind of normal, and although the last months in Turkey had passed with a lot of social problems, conflicts and terrorists attacks the participants were very motivated to attend the first seminar of the year.
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Each town or village can be the center of the world | Ukraine

Interview by Svitlana Oslavska with Olga Diatel and Alona Karavai, translated by Liubov Hryb. 

UkraineLab is an interdisciplinary platform for effective and sustainable networking, which creates space for dialogue between active representatives of different sectors of society in Ukraine.
In 2015 two forums were organised by UkraineLab. One in Kiev devoted to the best solutions for culture and civil society in post-crisis periods, the second one in Ivano-Frankivsk with focus on peace building strategies. This year the activities will be continued and new meetings will be arranged. In April UkraineLab will be held in Kramatorsk and Slovyansk. Alona Karavai and Olga Diatel, coordinators of the programme, explain specifics and characteristics of UkrianeLab, this year’s topics and expectations.

What is UkraineLab in brief?
Alona Karavai: UkraineLab is an interdisciplinary platform for smart networking and cross-sectorial cooperation of change makers as well as a think tank where visions and innovations for civil society and culture can be born. With UkraineLab we also create a safe space for people to share, to exchange about and to collect all kind of practices of local development and to test them where they may be the most necessary at the moment.
Olga Diatel: UkraineLab is a space where you can develop new professional relations and partnerships, which will make your work more effective in the future.

What impressions did you get after the first meetings in 2015 so far?
Olga Diatel: I was skeptical about the large number of people we planned with to take part. It is not easy to ensure an efficient process in such kind of situations. Yet at the first forum we managed to create an atmosphere of openness, personal responsibility and everyone was very cooperative. Our aim and the aim of UkraineLab is to build a network of people, and I think we manage to build it step by step.
Alona Karavai: The second forum was organised as a kind of a partnership fair. It emerged people have a great actual need of building deliberate partnerships. Usually people partnering up right before the start of a project and they do not discuss their aims and values beforehand. This causes often the opposite of a long term and trustful partnership which would have the potential to create some impact. The format of the partnership fair will be further developed, so in Kramatorsk and Slovyansk participants will have more opportunities to present themselves, get to know each other and exchange.

Why have you chosen the topic “The development of local communities” for the upcoming meeting?
Alona Karavai: We actually asked the participants during the second forum in Ivano-Frankivsk 2015 where we already started to plan the next steps for 2016.
Olga Diatel: A lot of them mentioned they would like be involved somehow in the everyday life of communities in the town where the forum takes place and they want to share something with the residents. So we decided to give it a try and to work with local communities. And we see it anyway as an emerging topic which is quite important for our work.

Which social challenges you have in mind thinking about UkrianeLab?
Alona Karavai: I think that UkraineLab is facing social challenges such as the lack of communication between people and poor quality of communication. Obviously people do not communicate with each other even in small communities you can observe this phenomenon parties from different sectors of society or different social layers are not coming together.
Olga Diatel: In my opinion every place has its own potential. And it depends on the people who live there to which extent this potential is used. I would like to work with tools and ideas from the field of local actions and with capabilities that can develop the potential of a city or a village. My personal experience: it doesn’t matter whether you live in a city or in a village, if you have a good idea, people from all over the world come visit and join you. Each town or village can be the center of the world if you live there and develop it.

Why have you chosen Kramatorsk and Slavyansk for the next meeting?
Olga Diatel: “We should do like ordinary people: organise meetings in Kiev and house all participants in one hotel” – we often joke about how and especially where we organise our events. To be serious, in Kramatorsk, in this region we are running the projects “Rural Initiatives Workshop” and “Сultivator”. So we know a lot of locals and we are in close contact with them.
Kramatorsk and Slavyansk are located on the so-called periphery. Due to this fact there are a lot of challenges. On the one hand a lot of people have emigrated. On the other hand, in Kramatorsk you can feel some kind of energy and something positive is up. In fact there are a lot of problems also a lot of ideas appear. And you may become part of it.
UkraineLab will take place in two cities in the region: In Kramatorsk and Slavyansk. People will stay in both cities as well as the activities of working groups. We decided so because we cannot stay with 120 people in one city , so we use the potential of both cities. This is certainly not the easiest nor the most practical solution to organise and also for the participants. Yet it provides the opportunity to learn more about the region.

How exactly will the participants work with the local communities?
Olga Diatel: We will work in thematic groups and we organise workshops, which we call “local actions”. The workshops will combine theory and practice. We expect participants working hand in hand with local initiatives and organisations to make these “local actions” most effective.
UkraineLab is a format and network, which is shaped by its participants. We already ask in the application to bring in own ideas for workshops. And these workshops can engage a lot of people. So we are looking for people who understand this approach, who are open-minded, curious and like to create something together.
And don’t be afraid to visit Kramatorsk.

In September will UkraineLab meet in Berlin. Can you already tell us about it?
Alona Karavai: For now the working title is “Ukraine – the EU: Lessons that have (not) been learned”. We want to look at things that have changed in the discourse “Ukraine – European idea – the EU”. We will include also the topic “Subjectivity and introspection of Ukraine” as we find the discussion about the perception of Ukriane as an subject important in European context.  We want to consolidate most of the Ukrainian and Pro-Ukrainian figures in Berlin, in Germany, in order to create a significant event together. There are only few Ukrainian events in Berlin. And of course, we hope the Ukrainian organisations will be interested in exchanging experience, and willing to see how everything works in Berlin as well as to find partners. We would like to gain attention, we would like to be heard in Berlin.

You can find more information at www.dialogue-for-change.org/en and at Facebook UkraineLab. UkraineLab is part of the project “Dialogue for Change” which is designed to help overcome social cleavage by a strengthening of civil society and dialogue in Ukraine.