Tag Archive | "civil society"

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Remembering ’89: Yesterday and Today

Posted on 22 December 2009 by admin

In September 2009 in Bratislava, Transitions Online and the CEE Trust hosted Social Innovation Camp Central and Eastern Europe. This three-day event brought together Web developers, designers, and civil-society actors from seven post-communist countries and formed them into teams to build effective online solutions to real social  problems.

During the camp, TOL executive director Jeremy Druker asked several of the participants to share their memories of the 1989 revolutions and their thoughts about their societies today.

Remembering ’89: Yesterday and Today from Transitions Online on Vimeo.

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The View from Carpathia

Posted on 10 November 2009 by admin

By Andy Markowitz

sandor2Since before the fall of communism, Sandor Koles has been at the forefront of building civil society in Central and Eastern Europe. A Budapest native, he founded the Hungarian Village Development Association in 1987 to help rural communities establish local institutions and organizations. In the months leading up to the regime change, he was working with fellow activists from both sides of the Iron Curtain on regional development issues.

In the liberalizing atmosphere of late 1989, Koles entered into a period of what he calls “action research,” moving to the town of Alsovadasz in northeastern Hungary to work with locals there and in the surrounding Cserehat region. It was basic bottom-up organizing. “We didn’t plan to make any revolution,” he recalls.

When the revolution came, in the tumultuous October and November weeks when Hungary’s Communist Party gave up monopoly power and East Germany’s almost inadvertently opened the Berlin Wall, Koles was in Alsovadasz, far from the street protests and urban intellectuals usually associated with the collapse of communism, observing the changes through the prism of village life. Continue reading …

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The Widening Gap

Posted on 08 November 2009 by admin

By TOL

Will Rogers’ quip about statistics being less trustworthy than damn lies could apply equally well to opinion polls. Or rather, to the use of poll data by their most avid consumers, the media. Poll results, nicely tabulated and presented in bite-sized, quasi-scholarly chunks, are often reprocessed by harried journalists into quick news articles, not to speak of editorials.

Widely reported in the days leading up to the big Berlin Wall anniversary, a large regional opinion survey appears to back up a number of popularly held notions about attitudes toward democracy, market economics, and life in general in Central and Eastern Europe since the upheavals of the late 1980s and early ’90s. Continue reading …

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No More Low-Hanging Fruit

Posted on 14 October 2009 by admin

By Pavol Demes

This year found the Euro-Atlantic community not only busy with pressing economic and political issues but also commemorating several important milestones – the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II, the 60th anniversary of NATO’s founding, the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. This last opened space for unprecedented changes in the former Soviet bloc.

Two decades on, we have entered a complicated period of economic crisis, security fears, and raised expectations connected with changes in the White House and European institutions. There is a natural impulse to look back, analyze the state of affairs, and think about new strategies. Continue reading …

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Making the Impossible Possible

Posted on 05 August 2009 by admin

A crusader for open society recalls the beginning of the end of communism in Central and Eastern Europe. From CNN.com.

By George Soros

I set up my first foundation in Hungary in 1984. The idea behind it was simple. The state dogma, promoted by the ruling communists, was false, and by providing an alternative we could expose its falsehood. Accordingly we supported every cultural initiative that was not an expression of the established dogma. Continue reading …

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