Final Community Forum in Cherevn briag
Tuesday, 02 March 2010
In the late afternoon of February 25th, 2010 the hall of Chitalishte "Svetlina" was packed with citizens who came to the final community forum organized by the Public Info Center "Svetlina".
Mr. Tihomir Konstantinov, Chairman of Chitalishte "Svetlina" opened the forum and announced the clip, developed by the Info Center's team where the Chitalishte enthusiasts had the opportunity to present the start of the Public Info Center "Svetlina" initiative. The video material viewed by the audience provided first hand information shared by the leaders of the various work teams on the accomplished tasks. They presented the tasks and results of all activities related with the initiative - conducting a survey, focus groups work, interviews, forums on important issues of children and youth, elderly and people with disabilities. Last but not least, the work of the advocacy team responsible for the fundraising activity ensuring sustainability of the initiative was presented as well as their campaign for solving the top priority issue.
The start was successful and now further development is needed, declared Eng. Valov, Mayor of Cherven briag municipality (project partner). He also mentioned that each problem should be viewed in detail, the tasks - specified and the deadlines set and observed. The mayor expressed an opinion that it would be beneficial if the civil society is involved in the local problems solving. Thus, everybody would feel involved and there should not be a division by groups - of those who require and those who implement.
The community forum proved to be a good model for probing society's attitudes and opinion and is also a working mechanism guaranteeing that citizens, local authorities and institutions "hear" each other, according to Ms. Petya Kircheva, Manager of the Public Info Center "Svetlina". Ms. Kircheva evaluated the citizens' participation in the four focus groups as active and further explained that the conducted survey among 270 representatives of socially excluded groups had set the direction of the team work.
The media activity of the Info Center consists of regular publications in the "Vestnik 21", developed three television and four radio programs, aired live from the Chitalishte, as well as news feeds on Internet sites of AGORA Platform and Cherven briag municipality. In addition, the Project Coordinator took part in two other 'external' television productions where he had presented the goals and activities of the Public Center in Cherven briag. Moreover, the Center was promoted by specially designed 1000 brochures and 100 posters disseminated in town.
Further, the mediation activity of the Public Info Center consists of individual and group consultations, involvement of two attorneys-at-law and launching of phone line at the Center. Ms. Kircheva thanked to all involved in the process of implementing the initiative - Public Info Center "Svetlina".
The most pressing issue agreed upon by the community was accessible architecture environment. This issue was viewed as essential for diverse community groups - mothers with strollers, elderly, people with disabilities, people with temporary mobility problems, cyclists - paving the way for the advocacy team work leaded by Ms. Svetla Ivanova.
For starters, the advocacy team had examined and acquired a good knowledge of the regulations. The team came to the conclusion that the issue is very well described and regulated. In addition, some professionals had joined the team. Firstly, a route group will be set up (involving municipality experts) to mark an accessible route in the central part of the town. Secondly, a program for accessible environment will be designed and developed where specific activities, deadlines and responsible persons will be defined and a realistic budget calculated. In conclusion, the advocacy team leader shared the ideas that came up in the working process. They are also easy to implement:
- specify parking lots for people with disabilities;
- appropriate marking of already built facilities;
- prepare a map of accessible places.
A clip titled "How I Came to Hate the Stairs" visually illustrated the architectural challenges and the various obstacles the citizens of Cherven briag succeed to overcome on a daily basis or most of the time were not able to.
Finally, Mrs. Lissichkova greeted the Cherven briag community for their civic activity in the last months, for applying the basic principles in the initiative: interaction, partnership, concern and responsibility.
It is essential that the Chitalishte strengthened its mission, namely to be the AGORA of the local community through the public forums as a good working model for solution of the pressing issues with participation of all.