News, pieces of advice and success stories from the All-Ukrainian Initiative «Active Community» for the period 01.02.2020 – 29.02.2020

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All-Ukrainian Campaign “Why do we love our cities?”

All-Ukrainian campaigns became an old good tradition for Institute “Respublica”. Most of them are devoted to holidays or important national events. Valentine’s Day, traditionally celebrated on February 14, was one of such events.

Active Community held “Why do we love our cities?” campaign on that day. The event took place in 25 Ukrainian cities at the same time. The cities residents were encouraged to tell why they love their city, what they would like to improve/change and how they can implement these changes on their own. Participants wrote their ideas on heart-shape post-it notes of various colors.

Most answers were about the beauty of Ukrainian cities. They said they loved architecture, museums, theaters, and especially nature and green zones: parks, public gardens, and flower beds. Many people also mentioned that they love their cities because of people, local residents who are sincere and positive, and the atmosphere is nice. They found real friends and fellow-thinkers there.

Participants also shared their ideas about what should be improved. Having analyzed their answers, we’ve got the following groups of the most common problems:

  • People would like to have clean and tidy cities, with more green zones;
  • Bad roads, no parking lots and inconvenient logistics;
  • People would like to see more attentive authorities and more respect each other.

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The participant of the All-Ukrainian Campaign “Why do we love our cities?” (Kyiv).

To motivate Ukrainians to join in solving the problems, we suggested that they think about what they can do on their own for the development of their cities. Most of them said they should start with themselves! Be attentive, sort garbage, plant trees and flowers, be tolerant. It is worth organizing into interest groups, writing petitions, holding promotions and rallies, networking with neighbors and taking care of your home and neighborhood together. Public activism and volunteer work should be promoted, more people should be involved, and community outreach activities should be undertaken, starting with kindergarten and ending with the inevitability of punishment for tossing garbage. On February 14, we saw many incredible people who genuinely love their cities and the state. They dream of having their cities flourishing and they are ready to do something about that. We heard hundreds of love confessions, here are the most incredible of them: “We just love it! Because it’s our city, our Motherland!”

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Public Consultations on decentralization and pension system reform
Kyiv

In February, Institute “Respublica” partnered two national-level public consultations. The first public consultation was held on February 20 in Kyiv.  The Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine is working on the Concept of Achievement of Goal 3.4, which aims to solve the problem of financial support and decent living conditions for pensioners. However, before the adoption of the Concept, representatives of the Ministry presented the project and held a public consultation in the format of expert discussion.

Oleksandr Indylo, the Head of the Expert Group on the Cumulative Pension System presented a draft Concept on how to achieve the Goal 3.4. The event was also attended by Prime Minister of Ukraine Roman Kobets and First Deputy Minister of Social Policy Neniuchenko Natalia. The event was moderated by Vitalii Hlyzhynskyi, National Coordinator of the Active Community for the Institute “Respublica”.

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The particapants of the public consultation about pension system reform (The Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine).

About 50 persons joined consultations. Among others, they were representatives of line ministries; MPs; representative bodies of employers; representatives of public associations and organizations, all-Ukrainian associations and trade unions, international investors, and international donor organizations.

The following issues were considered: simplification of the pay-as-you-go pension scheme; incentives to pay a single social contribution; creating conditions for voluntary retirement savings; ensuring state supervision of social services to pensioners. The participants discussed the proposed policy of the Ministry to achieve this goal and provided their recommendations and suggestions. Now, all suggestions and comments are processed by analysts at the Institute “Respublica” and a comprehensive report is drawn based on the results of the expert discussions.

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In five cities of Ukraine: Kherson, Kharkiv, Vinnytsia, Kyiv and Dnipro

The second series of public consultations, which took place at the Ministry level, is about amendments to the Constitution in the part of decentralization.

The reform of local self-government and territorial government structure has been ongoing since 2014. The voluntary community merger phase is coming to an end. 2 draft laws on amendments to the Constitution in the part of decentralization were submitted to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for consideration but they were both canceled. To make the amendments to the Ukrainian Constitution qualitative, it was decided to hold a series of public consultations on decentralization process.

Institute “Respublica” analysts have joined public consultations in Vinnytsia, Kyiv, Lviv, Chernivtsi, and Dnipro. Also, the Active Community Coordinators actively involved public sector representatives, academics and experts in the discussion process.

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Аnalysts of the Institute “Respublica” during the public consultation in Vinnytsia.

Consultations were held from February 28 to March 4 in the following cities: Kherson, Kharkiv, Vinnytsia, Kyiv and Dnipro. Participants from all oblasts, 50 people from each, also arrived there. The participants included representatives of the united territorial communities, village heads, local deputies, representatives of the regional and district administrations, and the public sector. The first part of the public consultation was to clarify the need for amendments to the Constitution in the part of decentralization. In the afternoon, participants directly discussed the issues. Representatives from each area worked in separate halls, and after completing their work in groups, they shared their insights in their respective sectors.

Participants in the public consultations discussed a number of issues, including local self-government rights and their protection; division of powers between the state and the local government bodies; financial protection of local government bodies; the format of partnership and interaction between the state and the local government bodies; how many levels of local self-government does Ukraine need and why; the system of administrative-territorial structure and local executive bodies.

During the discussion, the participants addressed the European Charter of Local Self-Government to substantiate their suggestions. Often, discussions went into an expert discussion with a detailed examination of examples of local self-government in Europe (Poland, France). The participants emphasized that amendments should be made not only to the Constitution but also to the laws. For example, the Law on Local Self-Government, the Tax Code, and the drafting of the Prefect Bill. We are grateful to the organizers and participants for the intense discussions and sharing their professional opinions in each city. We believe that this is the way we can find common ground and complete the decentralization process as best we can.

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The history of success: small steps for a big goal
Volnovakha

Olhyno territorial community residents are still waiting for the elections but that does not prevent them from developing their community right now. The joint territorial community is located in Donetsk Oblast, Volnovakha Raion, and has 5 communities willing to merge. To develop their community, local female residents created an initiative group and started various initiatives.

It all started, as always, with information hours. Yana Tvereza, Active Community Coordinator in Volnovakha, communicates weekly with residents about issues that need to be addressed and motivates them to resolve these issues on their own. In some time, information hours participants invited by Yana visited Active Community Club and brought their friends. They not only discussed the existing problems but also drew up an action plan. The Active Community Coordinator helped them identify the list of interests/projects they would like to implement in their joint territorial communities and encouraged them to join a 4-person initiative group.

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Pictures from the exhibition of Vera Izotova. 

The first implemented idea was free fitness classes. Two girls of the initiative group give classes for free, and the community center provides facilities and supplies for the club. Classes are given 2-3 times a week. There were 7 club visitors, and they are about 20 now. “Talents around us” exhibition of local painter became one more important initiative that was implemented. The initiative group members saw the paintings of Vera Izotova on social media and decided to help the artist with the organization of her own exhibition. They arranged the exhibition on the premises of local library in Novotroiitske settlement, helped to bring the paintings and arrangement of space. The initiative group also jointed the 2020 community development strategies discussion. Now the initiative group participants want to plant a garden close to school No. 4 in Novotroiitske and open a theater workshop. The Active Community team is very happy about the development of Olhyno territorial community and will gladly give them further assistance and support the ideas of the initiative group and community.

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Khmelnytskyi

One of the most successful and practical examples of territorial community cooperation in the context of local residents activation is Active Community cooperation with Khmelnytskyi and Staroushytska territorial communities. Ponyzzia Legends project was one of such cooperation results. The cooperation with Staroushytsk territorial community started with “Community management” and “Participation budget” trainings. During these trainings, participants were encouraged to talk about their community and the problems they would like to address. In addition to trainings, there were several meetings of Active Community regional coordinators Yuliia Mazur and Serhii Tolstikhin in cooperation with Staroushytsk territorial community, where they learned about the community’s tourist potential.

The willingness of the community residents to develop tourism to increase the community capacity was multiplied by Yulia and Serhii competences in territorial development area. The main goal of the project is to develop a community tour product. That is, the creation of a whole complex of tourist services that are understandable for them and will meet their needs while traveling. For example, the territorial community, using various instruments (maps, booklets, website, social media) answers the tourists’ questions: what is interesting here (what sightseeing I may visit)? where can I stay at night? what is the community famous for? what can I do here?

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A draft of the information-tourist map.

Following the meetings and training, there was created an initiative group of community residents: entrepreneurs, self-government workers, students, representatives of Bakota NGO, and local activists. Now, the initiative group is working on the development of an information-tourist map and comprehensive tourist routes. For example, students, together with their teachers, visited every corner of the community and made a description and photos of these places. The map was mainly made on the basis of their tourist locations insights. Diana Kosteniuk, one of the local students, committed to taking care of the project SMM. She makes a content plan and posts information on the Internet. To ensure sharing information, cooperation with neighborhood territorial communities, in particular with Kytaihorod community, is also planned. Active Community coordinators established the following cooperation steps with Staroushytska community:

  • test tour on the route, making the route track;
  • working with local entrepreneurs and developing a tour plan;
  • determining the interests of tourists and arranging tour programs for them;
  • the first check-in for local activists;
  • making promotion videos and project advertising…

The project was officially presented in Khmelnytskyi at a workshop of all territorial communities of Khmelnitsky Oblast. The project will also be presented at Kyiv tourist exhibition on March 25-27, 2020.

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Short news from regions
Poltava

Information hours – is one of the tasks committed by Active Community. In February, the local residents mostly discussed amendments to Ukrainian Constitution. On February 4, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine preliminary approved the draft law No. 1017 on reduction the number of people’s deputies from 450 to 300. Fluency in the state language for MP candidates and proportional electoral system is planned to be established by the constitution.

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The participants of the information hour in Poltava. 

On February 29, Lilia Harbuziuk, Active Community regional team in Poltava asked local residents about their attitudes to the initiative. Most information hour participants supported the reduction of people’s deputies. It is worth mentioning that Ukrainians in all cities agree to the reduction of MPs, but in most cases they cannot suggest the number of deputies to be established by the Constitution, the current number of deputies and why they decided to reduce the number of deputies to 300 people. In most cases, information hours participants say that deputies do nothing so no harm will be made. However, there were some people who suggested to elect good people to be deputies, instead of the reduction of their number.

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Dnipro

Dmytro Chernyshov, Active Community regional coordinator in Dnipro held Community Management training at Slobozhanske territorial community. The heads of the divisions of the village council, as well as representatives of communal establishments and public organizations of Slobozhanske settlement gathered for the village council training. At first, “What is community” interactive activity was arranged.

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Dmytro Chernyshov, Active Community regional coordinator in Dnipro.

The participants told why they love Slobozhanske and painted their native community. It is noteworthy that all participants see the community as an organic component of many elements, each of which is important. The community means residents, utilities, various institutions, public associations, condominiums, businesses, and local governments. Dmytro Chernyshov spoke about how decisions are made in the community, what powers the village mayor and deputies have and what the budget of the community is. Also, participants learned how they may influence community decisions.

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Zakarpattia

On February 27, more than 20 active residents of Irshava territorial community willing to get quality change in their community learned what the community budget is, how it is being filled and how it can be controlled. It is significant that most participants wanted to learn how local residents may influence local territorial community budget. After the discussion, some participants even chose instruments they are going to use. Qualitative change in communities is implemented if citizens control local governments. Hanna Melehanych, Active Community communication coordinator in Zakarpattia told the participants about the local budget revenues, what the community funds and what must be funded by the national budget. For example, new-born payments and subsidies are funded with the national budget funds, but Administrative Service Centers, community centers, libraries, and parks get funds from the community budgets.

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The participants of the training about the community budget (Zakarpattia).

Participants could think about ways to fill the local budget. To do that, the trainer divided them into three groups: one of them acted as community head, the other group was a local council deputies, and the third group acted as local residents. All of them had the same tasks: to think up and write down how they could fill the budget within the scope of their roles and functions. After the activity, participants talked about the initiatives they would like to implement, thought about how to implement them, what they needed, and what challenges might arise. According to the trainer, there were many environmental initiatives, construction of a waste processing plant, joint cleaning, tree planting.  And it is quite possible that thanks to the participants of this training, a cinema, swimming pool, school bus or a refinery will appear in the territorial community.

Note. The all-Ukrainian initiative “Active Community” – is an association of people and social movements for self-organization and participation in solving local problems. The initiative was created within the framework of the Institute “Respublica”.