Public Engagement and Community Empowerment (P.E.A.C.E.) Summits promote engagement and involvement in the welfare of the communities. The Summit includes representatives from government agencies, businesses, non-profit organizations, educational, and health care systems in developing strategic plans to address the identified community issues. HueLife has organized and hosted two different summits utilizing the team of facilitators and volunteers across the sectors and cultures. 

On July 4-5, 2014, a team of volunteers, under the direction of Richard Fursman and Irina Fursman, organized the PEACE Summit in Kiev, Ukraine. The event drew over 250 participants from across Ukraine, representing different walks of life (students, activists, journalists, professionals, business owners, academics, government workers, politicians, etc.). PEACE Summit was designed as a large-scale intervention to begin a peace building process among the citizens of Ukraine through engagement and empowerment. Overall topic for the event was: Peace through Decentralization. Organization and community development principles, concepts, and techniques were emphasized in the design of the event. A team of volunteer facilitators was assembled to assist with round table discussions, small group work on strategy and action steps for moving the PEACE movement forward within the communities and regions represented by the participants. Project team was organized and convened virtually. 

  • Kiev, Ukraine: This summit was a response to the annexation of Crimea and the Ukrainian/Russian border war, along with the decision of the President to not sign an association agreement with the European Union. It focused on helping individuals understand and plan for implementing decentralization reforms at the local level. 
Problem Addressed

Kiev: This summit was the first of its kind to the fact that Ukraine does not have a tradition of civic engagement. Even after gaining independence in 1991, the country has struggled to achieve democracy. Changing the perceptions of the entities attendees gathered to help stood as a huge barrier in their ability to do so. 

Solutions Used
  • Focused Conversation: To find ways to counteract feelings of despair and disbelief and move people toward positive action. HueLife engaged people in conversations designed to help people discuss options around the question, “How do we build engaged and empowered communities?” Follow-up conversations focused on the importance of implementing the options generated along with the specific steps necessary to move people into action. 
  • Communication and Engagement. To ensure all participants were involved, and to model the types of engagement these leaders could activate in their local communities. HueLife engaged participants in ways that allowed them to share their hopes and develop innovative ideas, new insights, strategic, and substantial goals. They formed teams to determine the actions, timelines, and accountability measures related to those goals. 

As the first “fully engagement” event in Ukraine, they created a remarkable impact on the participants. Inspired by the Peace Summit, the School of Constitution, was founded by Sergey Sharmanov, is a non-profit organization that aims to educate the public on their constitutional rights to encourage local self government.  

Moreover, one of the summit’s contributors, Yevhen Kilimnik, began working for the European Advisory Union – Ukraine (EAU-Ukraine). The union is an organization with a  mission to advise and support reforms in establishing sustainable institutions. 

It is evident that the Ukrainians are still in the process of building trust in the government and they are more interested in joining non-government organizations. Summits like this helped them develop confidence in themselves. It is now a goal for them to teach and spread self and social-political awareness to other leaders. Implementing their constitutional rights to practice and starting positive actions have begun because of the summit. 

Lessons Learned

Focused conversations and effective communication reveals the core challenges and needs not just of individuals and organizations, but of the whole nation. Engagement creates significant impact to people that it causes a chain reaction among the involved parties to lead and be the catalyst of change. 

Who should consider this training?

Individuals and groups of people who feel to be living in fear and suppression. It is beneficial for communities who want to promote self and socio-political awareness among its people.  

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