From transparency to the climate crisis: Who makes our country better?
We present the changemakers from Slovak civil society organizations.
Democracy and the rule of law are essential for a healthy functioning of the country in all its areas. However, they are not a given and need constant supervision and continuous protection from all of us.
In Slovakia, too, we have people who care about the health of democracy. The Impact Summit will feature presentations by representatives of organizations that work every day on issues such as transparency, combating misinformation, and cultivating public debate.
Michal Horský is a lawyer and civic activist, but above all someone who wants to have a decent conversation. That’s why he founded DEMDIS, an organization that leads people to substantive and peaceful dialogue and seeks agreements instead of disputes in conversation. At DEMDIS they try to achieve this by organizing discussions, workshops, but also by developing interactive digital tools for online debates.
“At DEMDIS, we are convinced that democracy needs new forms of citizen engagement in its processes. Our vision is therefore to design and organize diverse citizen forums. It is through a fair exchange of views that we can break out of the constant stalling in place and together improve life in Slovakia,“ says M. Horský.
Old Catholics in Slovakia
When imagining the Church, many people think of a number of stereotypes concerning conservatism and obsolescence. However, the representatives of the Old Catholics in Slovakia are trying to change this image through their activities. Martin Kováč, an Old Catholic priest who works in Bratislava and Trnava, says that Old Catholics follow a spirituality of “radical openness, acceptance, dialogue and love.”
That is why, among other things, they provide counseling and organize support groups for the rainbow community. A new clubhouse for LGBTI+ people is also to be added in Žilina, which will serve as a safe place for people from the region. “If we are talking about real, open acceptance and support, there are very few such places in Slovakia. In Bratislava, the LGBTI+ community has them, which is different from other parts of Slovakia. In a big city, however, it is easier to get lost in the crowd,” adds M. Kováč.
Education is one of the highest priorities for children and youth. It is also related to the fight against disinformation. The people at Zmudri understand this, which is why they have created two educational platforms. One is Zmudri.sk, through which teachers can join courses on how to teach better. Through it, pupils can access videos, quizzes and various activities on current and general topics. As there was great interest in Zmudri.sk, a special medium Zmudri G was created. This is an educational channel that offers content tailored for leisure learning online on its website and on social networks.
“Hoaxes have unfortunately become an issue in recent years that affects elections, the whole society and its direction. In Slovakia, an alarming number of people trust hoaxes and I am trying to help improve this situation,” says Martina Bolibruchová, co-founder and director of Zmudri.
Martina Bolibruchová, Zmudri (right) during an intensive 3-day camp organized by the Pontis Foundation for civil society organizations.
Transparency International Slovakia
With 25 years of experience, Transparency International Slovakia (TIS) is one of the most respected watchdog organizations in the country, working to ensure the highest possible level of transparency in public institutions. TIS plans to deepen its efforts to increase public access to information, building on best practices from the field. These include, in particular, making analyses based on collected data.
One of the organization’s analysts is a former journalist Ľuboš Kostelanský: “Few countries can offer such a variety of beauties as ours. I have always regretted that we cannot make as much use of this potential as, for example, the neighbouring Czech Republic, Austria or Hungary. I am convinced that the support we are trying to provide to decent entrepreneurs can move our country forward.” TIS also encourages ethical business through their Who Owns project, where they publish available information about the owners of various establishments and assess the transparency of their business.
Climate Needs You
From an informal platform of angry people, a nationwide project has emerged. Climate Needs You draws attention to the consequences of the climate crisis, its causes, as well as the lack of solutions from public policy makers. “We are a group of those who recognise the threat that the climate crisis poses to the future of our survival on this planet. But we are not giving up and we want to solve the crisis,” the movement says on its website.
They are currently working on monitoring the status quo, but are also looking at the implementation of climate action. Based on the data collected, it will be possible to compile a series of recommendations for public figures.
Public Leadership Academy
The organization Manageria is primarily dedicated to education, which should produce capable and decent people, ready to create a better future for the country. However, an important part of this process is also the recovery of the public sector.
“Our goal is that citizens receive quality services. We want the state to solve their problems before they happen,” says Michala Hrdinová, the leader of the Public Leadership Academy program. It is a developmental training program for public administration workers to prepare them to implement positive changes in their workfield.
The project was created as a cooperation between the organizations Teach, Leaf, the Goodwill Clerks Club and Nexteria, associated under the Manageria NGO.
Supporting NGOs – Impact Lab
Demdis, Old Catholics in Slovakia, Transparency International Slovakia, Zmudri, Climate Needs You and Manageria are among the participants of Impact Lab – a Pontis Foundation program that offers strong support to Slovak NGOs. In addition to financial support, they get an individual mentor, participation in workshops and the opportunity to network with people from business and public governance sectors.
Co-funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or European Education and Culture Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.