A bit more than a year had passed since the last CDN network meeting hosted in Belgrade by the Serbian Young Greens . A year passed and had to be evaluated. Time had come to make some decisions, to vote, to discuss and to plan, to MEET again!
This happened during a nice autumn weekend in the Croatian capital Zagreb. Between the 20. and 22. of November 2009, around 20 delegates from 11 countries met at the office of the Croatian Green Party. The Slovak Young Greens were present, too since it was a beautiful year they had spent with CDN. This let them apply for partnership with CDN which was approved later on during the meeting!
Evaluation is a useful method for pointing out successes and defeats, and also for keeping motivation up and appreciating the work of others as well as our own. I think that the second half of the previous sentence is more fitting for CDN. The Executive Committee (EC) in cooperation with the Secretariat had done a great job, that is why it is only good that three members – Vesna (Serbia), Tamuna (Georgia) and Marina (Bulgaria) of the last year’s EC were re-elected, so that they can continue with what they have started. However, the further development of CDN is also ensured as two new members were elected – deep-ecology oriented Dudu (Turkey) and Teo (Finland), who will participate in the registration process of CDN as an international organisation. Every member of the new EC has a specific reason for being part of this team. The group seems already very united, probably because they met several times on different events and know each other well. This is very important for the efficient running of every network’s activities.
The past year’s diverse activities were presented at the meeting, too. Documents were discussed and amended. The last day of the Network meeting mainly involved planning and pointing out problems that the organizations feel should be solved in the future.
A common problem seems to be that organizations like CDN or FYEG appear too official and serious in the eyes of individual members. Both are organizing great events on the international level and it is a pity that those are attended mostly by the same people . This is also very true for the Slovak Young Greens. Our members are afraid of „serious politics“ and of the financial side of the international activities, they are afraid of paying big money.
I remember that when I joined the Slovak Young Greens one year ago and started to participate in international events, I thought both CDN and FYEG were presided over by older serious people and I was a bit scared of meeting them. What turned out was the opposite. I learnt that FYEG and CDN are full of energetic young people who really want to change what they can, turn the world’s attention towards green ideas and principles through activities – with fun!
In my opinion, it is very important to show this kind of face of our organizations, for instance via a message like „we are serious about our topics, but we don’t forget to laugh – come and have fun with us!“ Of course, politics and discussions about different problems are not funny, but I personally would be happy if we all could find a way how to attract more members and how to strengthen cooperation among particular organizations. We also discussed this at the meeting.
Moreover, CDN working groups organized two activities which I liked very much. The Culture WG opened an exhibition at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Zagreb called „Youth activism – black on white.“ This expressive photo exhibition showing the development of youth activism will travel around CDN member organizations.
The Gender WG introduced its pink webpage (http://gender.cdnee.org) and organized a party on the theme „gender confusion“. The delegates dressed in extraordinary ways, most of them like the opposite sex. To some people, this worked wonders. They turned into somebody else. Somewhere inside of them they found a hidden personality and behaved very naturally. In the evaluation of this party some said they felt bigger freedom, they lost boundaries just by changing the clothes. Truly in their behavior they went into extremes.
My thoughts turned to my country, still primarily conservative Slovakia. If I organized a party on gender, I am sure that it would be a big success. But why? People would have fun. Turning into somebody else, pretending that a girl is a boy, or a lesbian, or a boy would be a gay etc., this would be more a joke than showing open-minded respect to the diversity of people. The mind of most Slovaks is still closed. Lesbians, gays, transgenders, queers are usually approached by Slovaks either as unnormal, extraordinary or as a complete tabu and shame. I think that this is something we have in common (most probably) with all Eastern European countries and I think that we as Young Greens are also confronted with the task of changing this perception.
To conclude, I would like to mention that especially for the Slovak Young Greens this was a very successful year. We managed to become a part of two great families – CDN and FYEG! This stands for many opportunities, but also the challenge and commitment to give something back. We received so much already – knowledge, experience and motivation – that helped us to strengthen the organization on the national level and to enrich ourselves personally. Both CDN and FYEG are not top-down organizations. It is up to all members and partners to take initiatives and be active. The Slovak Young Greens will try to accomplish these aims and in this sense to be a good member of both families.