The election campaign officially started in Ukraine on Saturday, September 5. And the program of the School of Community Leaders, which lasted a month and a half, has just ended. And this means that the program participants are ready to plunge into the election race to fight for their chance for honest leadership.
We devoted the third module to practical tools for involving citizens. After all, it is impossible to be a leader without the community’s support, without uniting people around a common big idea. Community residents are not just voters. And winning an election with a successful strategy is just the beginning. After the election, the most challenging part begins – you need to interact with citizens, find the problems, and solve them together. Only in this way, we have a chance for the emergence of civil responsibility, which will not allow those who are not worthy of it to come to power over the years.
During the third module, students of the School of Community Leaders learned how to work with the community.
In particular, as part of the program, we conducted a live motivational session together with the finalists of the national TV project “New Leaders” for students of the School of Community Leaders. Mariupol City Council Member Maksym Borodin, Kotsyubynske Town Council Chairwoman Olga Matyushyna, and Mayor of Chortkiv City Volodymyr Shmatko talked about how they turn difficulties into opportunities and develop communities. Each of the speakers has extensive experience in local government. Facing new obstacles daily is a reality for those who undertake community development. But our speakers prove that the main thing is to go to the goal sincerely and devotedly, without stopping and without doubting it.
Oleksandr Slavsky, Director of the Odesa Regional Development Bureau and a USPS alumnus, shared his experience in establishing cooperation between local governments, communities, and civil society. In Ukraine, citizens have legal means of influencing the government. The main thing is to know and use them correctly.
Ruslan Deinychenko, the co-founder of the Stopfake project, told all about countering fakes and manipulation, which can hinder communication between society and government.
Nicole Ruder, Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office in Ukraine, met with participants online to discuss the basic principles and possibilities of decentralization, which is an effective tool for overcoming global challenges. Each community can contribute to developing not only autonomously, but also to benefit the world, for example, by caring for environmental issues.
Olexandr Yarema, State Secretary of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and a USPS alumnus, spoke about the experience of holding a Town Hall Meeting – a useful tool for involving citizens. The Agency for Legislative Initiatives and the Ukrainian School of Political Studies have been holding Town Hall Meetings for several years, during which citizens have the opportunity to discuss community issues. In the meantime, government officials can better understand citizens to overcome challenges together.
We managed to hold one training Town Hall Meeting with participants online! During the meeting, students tried to find a solution to the problem of a large number of outdoor advertising in cities, which, on the one hand, can spoil the appearance of buildings, and on the other – can bring money to the city budget. So at Town Hall Meeting, they learned to understand different stakeholders and look for consensus for all community members.
The latest video lectures of the School of Community Leaders were dedicated to innovative methodology. Oleksandr Zaslavskyy, Director of the Analytical Department of the Agency for Legislative Initiatives, and Uliana Poltavets, Program Director of the USPS and Deputy Chairwoman of the Board of ALI, introduced participants to a unique for Ukraine tool of public control – social audit. We developed the methodology of social audit in the Agency for Legislative Initiatives with the support of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. We will soon implement it in Ukrainian communities, particularly with the School of Community Leaders’ alumni.
Although studying at the School of Community Leaders-2020 is over, the community of people united by values and “armed” with knowledge remains. And this is the most important thing. We hope to continue working with alumni of the School of Community Leaders in the future!