On July 17 – July 19, 2015 Board meeting Danube – Networkers for Europe (DANET) e.V. was held in Zagreb, at the Public Open University Zagreb (POUZ). These were the warmest days in Zagreb in the past 65 years and the temperature was always between 35 and 40 C. We could say that the meeting was held in a warm atmosphere with hot discussions. For some participants, the trip to Zagreb itself was an adventure. By train via Budapest to Zagreb without air conditioning was an adventure for the Romanian colleagues. With a little help of ice, cold drinks and shady rooms, board was able to do this meeting.
All this did not affect the enthusiasm of the participants and the results of the meeting. In those three days, members from Germany, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia and Croatia intensively discussed current work and future activities of the DANET organization. As before, the president Carmen Stadelhofer encouraged everybody with her energy and initiatives to do everything that was planned.
Firstly, all participants learned about POUZ, adult education organization which is engaged in these activities since 1907. Co-organization, funding, rooms and programs in which 15,000 students per year participate were described. Continuation was very interesting because representatives of the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Labour and Pension System and Zagreb municipal authorities attended the meeting.
They reminded that the European Social Fund offers financing options for intergenerational cooperation in the care of active aging. However it was noted that the active aging is generally understood as providing paid work, whereas other forms of activities that are equally (or more) important for the people and the community are neglected. In any case, any organization can find opportunities to participate in tenders of the ESF, and to include other DANET members in the implementation of projects. It was nice to see that the Croatian representatives of the Ministries and the City of Zagreb understand and try to help our initiative.
In the second part of the meeting the most attention was devoted to the past activities and organizational issues. All the activities, the success of the seminar in Bad Urach and very successful project The Wanted Danube, were discussed in detail. Most discussed question was how to make the right relationship between all those involved in projects as part of a wider Danube network and those who are members of the organization DANET, i.e. what is the role of the DANET organization in expanding various forms of cooperation and collaboration networks in the Danube region.
The visibility of the organization is important for its purpose. What has been done so far on the development of websites, flyers, letters to stakeholders and political representatives? The results are very different from country to country. In any case, the activities on presenting organization, creation of partnerships and seeking collaborators for future projects will be continued. After the hard work, the first day ended with the evening walk around the city and dinner in the old town.
On Saturday and Sunday we mostly talked about future activities of the organization DANET: organisational/administrative changes, financial issues, planned projects, membership issues.
It was one of the main reasons for the meeting: how to create an organizational structure that will guarantee the future of the organization. All this is not easy for an organization that has just started to work, which is yet to start projects and include active members. The important thing is openness to future members and a clear program focus on intergenerational cooperation and social participation in the Danube region. In addition to closely organizational questions, the future projects were discussed. The basic intention is that future projects will gather as wide a range of organizations in the Danube region in order to meet the basic mission of the organization. The intention is to propose a project that would bring together partners in the project as The Wanted Danube did, a project that would enable everyone to contribute with their education, creative work, writing, and social engagement.
In the coming months elaboration of these ideas will be continued.
Special attention was paid to all future activities, focusing on the 4th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) and a2nd Participation Day for civil society actors (Ulm, October 2015). DANET members will be present and will actively participate in these events. Saturday night also ended with an evening walk and dinner, and everybody left hot Zagreb on Sunday afternoon.
Author: Tihomir Žiljak