The Re-Start project sought societal change in the city of Rimavská Sobota and in the entire surrounding region. The “Re-Start” project was financed by the ACF – Slovakia program, which is funded by the EEA Financial Mechanism 2014-2021. OZ Naša Sobota had received a grant for the project in the amount of € 39,327. The aim of the project was to increase citizens‘ interest in decision-making within the city, public events and wider social issues. The project also included the involvement of local activists and public officials in the project’s activities.
We started the project with the organization of four two-day educational trainings for civic activists/leaders and local public officials. Thematically, they focused on skills like involving local communities in public affairs and decision-making, conflict communication, facilitation (meeting management) and the recognition of manipulations/manipulators in public space.
Further on, we added public discussions with experts on various civic/public topics. In total, we organized 10 discussions, which were attended by more than 200 citizens. We started with a discussion on a participatory budgeting entitled „Be part of the decision-making„, followed by a discussion on spatial planning „Spatial plan: the basis for urban development„. Then we went on to topics related to the environment in the city, „Greenery in the city“ and I/Trash/City on waste management. This was followed by a discussion on non-motorized transport “Car vs. bike„. In the summer season of 2020, we brought the topic of restoration, protection and finding new uses for technical monuments in the discussion called „Iron Gemer„. Then, we returned to topics aimed at improving the functioning of a municipality. These were the topics of “Smart City” (on the concept of Smart City) and “Open Municipality” (on transparent and open governance at the municipal level). The last discussions were devoted to greater than regional topics such as “Tourism: an opportunity for the development of the region” and “The Climate Crisis Affects Us.” In addition to these discussions, we joined the European Mobility Week in September 2020 and organized a “Non-motorized breakfast” we served refreshments for pedestrians and cyclists who used non-motorized means of transport on the way to their work. Furthermore, in January 2021, we joined the Write for Rights, which is the largest human rights event in the world organized by Amnesty International. Cases of human rights violations are selected each year, and letters are sent around the world to stop violating their human rights.
As part of the project, we managed to write the Principles of Participatory Budgeting for Rimavská Sobota, according to which its first year is successfully running. They supplemented the Generally Binding Regulation on the Provision of Subsidies from the City Budget. We used the law on free access to information to find out the status of the process of updating the zoning plan approved by the deputies. Subsequently, we organized a workshop to update the zoning plan. The result of the workshop was submitted as an official civic initiative – Naša Sobota o.z. in cooperation with OZ Odvážme sa zrýchliť to update the spatial plan. As part of the project, a mobile application Moja Sobota was created to involve the public in public events in Rimavská Sobota, through the reporting of suggestions (eg missing sewer cover) and others. These are then sorted and moved to the municipal council for resolution. The application will be launched after the improvement of the epidemiological situation in Slovakia due to Covid 19 pandemic.
The LídeRS program, which was attended by active students of the Ivan Krasko Gymnazium in Rimavská Sobota, was successful. Students identified problems in their surroundings and developed projects that tried to solve them. At the beginning, 17 participants signed up. Finally, nine participants, divided into three teams, implemented three small projects at the school over a period of five months: Ekoprojekt, Valentínsky prom and Project to beautify the school premises. The eco-project sought to raise awareness of the flooding of the planet with plastics, especially the oceans. During this project, plastics were collected at school in order to reduce their volume at school. The Valentine’s Ball responded to the need of young people who wanted to live and have fun socially. Most of the proceeds from the entrance fee went to charity and the second part as a basis for the next year of the ball. The aim of the School Beautification Project was to make the everyday school space a more beautiful and pleasant addition to motivational quotes. Funds for the implementation were obtained from the sale of small items on the Christmas stock exchange. Due to the tightening of anti-epidemiological measures (Covid 19), the next year of the LídeRS program was not implemented.