Impressions from the 2010 CIVICUS World Assembly, Montreal, Canada:
Posted by civilsocietyindex on September 1, 2010
Written by the CSI partner in Russia, Liliana Proskuryakova
My first and strongest impressions from the WA in Montreal derive from meeting old and new friends and colleagues.
My organization, Higher School of Economics, is the Russian CSI partner in the current phase. Naturally, I was looking forward to meeting and chatting with the renewed CIVICUS CSI team and national CSI partners of this phase. We also made an input to this renovation through sending Olga, a Russian researcher from Higher School of Economics, for an internship to CIVICUS CSI. She’s extremely existed about spending some time in CIVICUS House this fall.
Carefully preparing my presentation at the “Participatory Research” workshop, I remembered the CSI training I went through in 2005 in winterly parched Jo’burg outskirts and the fellows I met there. Since then I quit the civil society sector and moved over to UNDP and later to the University to do research. Some of the other CSI colleagues, in fact, moved pretty much the same direction (for ex. Ben Genrezghi has moved to UNDP in NYC and Finn Heinrich is pursuing his PhD at the University).
“How would you assess the Montreal Assembly as compared to Glasgow” asked Kumi Naidoo, former Secretary General and now CIVICUS honorary President, at the last day’s gala dinner. “I think it’s well organized”, – I responded. First of all, the theoretical discussions at the plenaries and workshops were followed by special events and open forums, which are meant to transform words into actions. These are complimented with learning exchanges and networking opportunities (i.e. at lunches) to improve lacking skills, contacts and information. Secondly, the proximity of accommodation to the conference venue saves time and effort.
On the participants’ diversity side, however, Glasgow was much ‘brighter’ and participants’ geographical representation was more diverse. It should also be noted that budgetary campus accommodation and somewhat more modest receptions in Glasgow served better the civil society cause and spirit.
Personally, partly due to my new research work, I missed the knowledge-based activities. At those workshops, which I attended or looked into, with the exception of 2 on civil society research, the presenters and public did not go much into the theoretical and methodological discussions.
It was my second time in Montreal and I used this opportunity to finally see the 3,5 streets of the “old city” and admire the heartfelt interior of churches and cathedrals, which are hidden among the typical North American high concrete-and-steel boxes. The grilling fire season was finally over in Canada, as well as in my country, and autumn was infiltrating with rains into the streets of Montreal.