The first meeting of the team of representatives of cities and towns forming part of the thematic network EMPIRIAE – CIVIC CITIES AND TOWNS was organised in Tarnów on 8 and 9 June .

The purpose of the network is to enhance competencies of Polish cities and towns in the area of implementing the New Development Path through experience and good practice exchanges concerning civic participation and public consultations.

The meeting was organised by the Association of Polish Cities as part of the “Local Development” Programme financed by the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism for the years 2014-2021. The Programme’s multiple tasks include the development of an Experience Exchange Network (EEN) for project participants and any other interested cities and towns.

The on-site, face-to-face gathering was attended by 22 participants, including representatives of 9 cities and towns: Cieszyn, Kędzierzyn-Koźle, Krosno, Opoczno, Rydułtowy, Tarnów, Przemyśl, Zabrze and Żary.

Meeting purposes included i.a. the drafting of an action plan for future Civic Cities and Towns network conventions. Attendants voted to select the most important topics from among unidentified challenges in the area for the network to focus on. These topics have been listed below:

  • Improving competencies for persons engaging in urban dialogue (Finding out how to do things. Handling crisis situations, online hate included);
  • Preparing local residents for substantive participation;
  • Working with “difficult clients”, consultations regarding incendiary subjects (Turning shouting matches into constructive discussions. Improving the efficiency of communication between Local Government Units and within the local authority. Local Government Unit in-house participation).

The meeting agenda included a presentation on the “Tarnów Dialogue Centre” by Deputy Mayor of Tarnów Agnieszka Kawa. The concept behind the Centre is to allow discussions regarding the city, initiate campaigns conducive to local development, introduce new ideas and co-create projects. The venue shall be open to all residents, regardless of age or worldviews.

Meeting participants watched the film “Boundaries with Brene Brown” to learn how to develop an attitude of resistance to negative emotions while remaining understanding to others. Brene Brown’s short film has the power to illuminate even the most experienced specialists on how to act and behave.