Welcome to the Civil Society Forum!

Anniversaries are not about the past, but about the future

The CEE Trust, which I have the privilege of heading, is undertaking a very ambitious endeavor, namely to provide the opportunity for a far-reaching debate on civil society in our part of the world. For years now, I have been envious of the power yielded by events such as the Davos meeting, taking political and business elites a step back to look at big picture. This enables them to generate new, bold ideas – and the world listens. Now it is our turn to do the brainstorming.

Twenty years ago, the rebuilding – not to say rebirth – of civil society and social capital in our post-communist societies began with a glut of ideas, concepts, assumptions and money. Today, civil society in Central and Eastern Europe has gathered both good and bad experiences, and has the maturity to offer ideas of its own that shape the way we think and act in our societies. And not only in the present, but also for the future. The world is changing, and civil society activists such as ourselves need to take a hard look at reality in order to come up with successful ideas and tools – some tried and tested, some brand new.

We have asked a number of writers, academics and social activists, all of whom have been involved in the development of civil society in their countries, to write articles summing up their thoughts on civil society in 2009. We hope these papers will provoke equally intelligent (and hopefully dissenting) reaction. Our space is open for your input, however short or long.

We will continue publishing noteworthy material on this site and asking for your input helping us determine the issues and challenges you find most relevant and timely to discuss. Next fall, we will be organizing a meeting at which civic activists and representatives of civil society will have the chance to meet face to face and spend two days debating, without shying away from controversy or criticism. Our main aim is to find something useful at the end of the road for you, the practitioners, activists, thinkers and journalists and for us, the community of supporters.

Welcome to the Civil Society Forum!

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