On 3- 7 July 2017 the CPU took place in Kunbabony, Hungary. Within LADDER’s thematic path ‘Citizens’ participation for development’, this event brought together citizens and professionals to learn from/with one another about civic engagement and local practices.

Organised by LADDER’s partner, the Central and Eastern European Citizens Network (CEECN), the event was hosted by the Civil College Foundation (CCF). During the opening remarks, the President of the Civil College Foundation Mate Varga, drew attention on recent Hungarian state affairs which put civil society organizations under peril. In the first keynote session, Budapest based BBC reporter Nick Thorpe, continued on that thematic mentioning the difficult situation that is faced by the civil society in Hungary and Central Eastern Europe in general. Another valuable contribution was the one of Wade Rathke, US Chief Organizer of ACORN International. In top-quality Learning Labs the participants learned more about local community practices. Sanja Nikolov and Tatiana Shauro spoke about energy related themes in Eastern areas, Gianni Orsini about conflict resolution in intercultural Spanish areas and there was a roundtable with Wade Rathke as well as guests from the European Community Organizing Network. Lastly, the private consultant Kirsten Paaby, Director of PS Paaby Process, taught about ‘Learning for Action- the Nordic Education Model’.

Four inspiring workshops have been offered in the realm of culture and art for community building. Anton de Boes from Ghent Community Cirkus, Susan Morales-Guerra from the Unit for Culture and Community Affairs for the City of Oslo, Eszter László from Mural Moral and Tomas Dahlberg from Creative Communities did an excellent job in inspiring participants to use art as a tool for community empowerment and motor for change. In another Keynote session, CPU attendees were introduced by Bela Racz to the ground-breaking political empowerment program in Roma communities. The program is led by the Roma Initiatives Office of the Open Society Institute. In a second round of Learning Labs, 5 high-quality tutorials were given by Ruben David Fernandez for the University of Barcelona, Jorgen Ljung who is President of the Swedish Heart to Heart Foundation, Sarah Prosser from Area Boost in Oslo, Magda Tancau from the European Anti Poverty Network and Jezz Hall from Shared Future CIC. These Learning Labs were centred around the topic of social enterprise.

CPU2017 finished with an outlook on CPU’s future and present times’ challenges. It goes without saying that during the 5 days, there was also time for networking, free discussions and exchange of experience. Two movie nights gave further inspiration on citizen participation and engagement. CPU was once more a space for learning that engages and stimulates its participants.

For more information on the CPU, read the article of our LADDER Citizen Journalist Giovanni Marco Scavelli who participated in event: The Republic of Kunbabony.

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Citizen Participation University