US-Russian Civic Networking Workshop 2002

The time from February, 9 to February, 15 was devoted to the US visit by representatives from six Russian communities and 4 day civic networking workshop in Washington.

Russian Civic Networking Program was supported by Ford Foundation during last 4 years and it was developed successfully in six Russian cities.

Both RCNP directors Natasha Bulashova and Greg Cole decided to hold concluding meeting in Washington, DC to summarize the results of activity in current stage of Civnet project development.

This report gives a short comparative analysis of two workshops that took place in US.

The first workshop was held in December 1998. At that time RCNP program was making its first steps, this project existed less then one year. Probably, only two RCNP directors - Greg Cole and Natasha Bulashova could neatly imagine and formulate goals and objectives of RCNP project.

It was Natasha and Greg who first made the acquaintance of civic networking in US. They participated in the work of KORRNet in Knoxville, TN. After this experience they decided to start a similar project in Russia.

Natasha Bulashova and Greg Cole, Directors of RCNP program.

Representatives of consortiums that were established in three Russian cities (Samara, Chelyabinsk and Sergiev Posad) for implementation of local civic networking projects took part in workshop 1998.

The motivation for organizing the first workshop was to take advantage of the experience of the US teams and to thus facilitate the transfer of necessary technology, ideas and experience. The primary purpose of hosting the workshop in US was to take advantage of the wide base of community experience in the development of a large and successful civic network. In addition, leaders from other civic networks in the US were invited to give the Russian participants a wider exposure to ideas that have proven successful elsewhere.

After establishing the technical, communicative and organizational elements of the RCNP project, the next step towards developing a successful community network was to emphasize the need for a broad base of community input and involvement. The two-week visit and workshop were considered essential components of our plan to facilitate the active sharing and transfer of ideas, experience and technology from those with years of experience with civic networking to the Russian participants. This allowed a broad cross-section of local community individuals and organizations to directly interact with the participants.

Besides, 1998 workshop permitted to RCNP participants to exchange new ideas and to ask assistance or advice in solving local problems.

The workshop of 2002 radically differed from previous workshop in motivation for organizing and in objectives.

This time representatives of six Russian cities came to USA. Some of these people took part in the first workshop. All PI of local networks have a considerable experience in building and working of civic networks. Even those who connected to RCNP program later, after second stage of grant competition, felt themselves with confidence. During the process of local networks implementation and working RCNP participants communicated permanently.

Due to those contacts and wide experience PI of local networks that took part in the second stage of the project could avoid many mistakes and problems which were usual for project pioneers.

And what is more, a "fresh spirit" introduces by new RCNP members enriched the development of project by new ideas.

The idea of "civic network" settled down in Russian present-day reality and the meaning "civic network" came to everyday life of Russian people. Only several years ago this phrase was unknown for most Russian people and excited curiosity. Now thousands of people take the benefits of civic networks, many people could change their life with the help of civic networks. (One can read the section "Interesting Stories" at Civnet site,mozilla,pc,english,new)

Now we can say that the idea "Civic networks" got a rapid development in Russia; while in many countries, including USA this began to impede. The conception introduced to Russia from the outside, got a rapid development, born new ideas and formed a certain experience that Russian participants could pass to all civnet pioneers.

Motivation and goals of second workshop was the delivery of experience cumulative by Russian civic networking participants. But at the same time the purpose of hosting the workshop in US was to take the advantage of solving many technical problems. Russian participants could solve these problems only with the help of American specialists' experience.

The striking example of such collaboration was the meeting with Dave Hughes who told about the functioning of civic networks in Colorado.

A detailed description and results of first workshop you can read here,mozilla,pc,english,new)

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Updated: 2002-04-

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