Who does what, when and how? We do!

These days, it’s often hard to tell exactly who’s responsible for what problem and this is coupled with an uncertainty about the role we play as citizens in making important stuff happen.

The fact is, it doesn’t just ‘happen’ and if we, the citizens, are going to sit around waiting for some magical organization to come along and make everything better, we’ll be sitting around grumbling for a very long time.

Complaints about the state of the streets, public buildings and parks can be seen in their 100s on social media sites. And we can’t realistically expect the communes or even ‘big business’ to solve everything. Experience has taught us that it doesn’t happen quickly enough, well enough…or even at all.

In the case of the communes, there usually isn’t the cash, and as for the private sector, well, many requests to support community charities are simply pushed onto the desks of HR or marketing departments.

But we can do something ourselves. We can get together with friends in supporting our own local groups, work to rally our community and deal with many minor problems, such as rubbish, graffiti and more. As a bonus, we get to know each other too – helping to grow both ourselves and our community spirit.

For more information do contact chalks
People To People International Europe asbl (www.ptpi.eu).

Community and PTPI in Europe

PTPI as we experience it, is a loose network of people, connected through a chapter framework and a global program of recommended action areas to cover. Local relevance is an important factor, especially as available resources, both human and financial, play a major role determining success of any activity.

For some chapters, a high level of flexibility is welcome, and others would prefer a more structured approach to implementing the activities that support all PTPI programs. We need to find a way to support each other. The more experienced chapters have much to teach us all. And, less experienced chapters need to be better at asking for and defining their needs for assistance.

We are only as good as our last, or most recent activities. Which is why we must share much more about the great things we do. We have been told many times that PTPI is a best kept secret.

Please do send in your ideas about how we might do more, share more, include more and truly make a difference to cultural understanding.

We do belong to something good. Time now to prove it.

contact us

What can we learn from the Maker Movement?

The underlying culture of the maker community, means that they are always looking to do better. Despite how good things are today, what is coming up that could make it even better. What are the opportunities and tools out there, allowing our members and our community more chance of engagement and support?

As an NGO with 61 years under our belt, it can be all too easy to sit back and operate business as usual. But we can see that the world is very different today, and we know that unless we keep up with contemporary thinking, behavior and modern practices – we can easily become obsolete. As many business gurus have said “if you aren’t growing you’re dying” – and we have not grown our membership in a long time.

Sustain: It is important for us to reform the way we are administered. Ever since we became a legal entity in Europe, we have been operating with several layers of bureaucracy. Having a permanent administrative board, does call into question the need for other roles that are part of the current EEC. Equally the workload has changed significantly, and much more is done in the Brussels office because they are close to our legal reporting entity.

There is an opportunity to take a look at what we really need, and to ensure that our bylaws, represent the requirement from January 2018.

Disrupt: Nothing can be more disruptive than the power technology has, to impact communications and relationships. Whilst many people like to get their hands on printed material, it is no longer practical, cost-effective, or friendly to our planet to do this. It applies equally to printed material given out at workshops or conferences.

We need to move to a process of placing materials in the online document library, where people can take a look, download to a local computer, and if they still wish to have a hardcopy – that would be a personal choice. We also need to make better use of technology to provide regular updates, news and information to our community. The onus is on the individual therefore, to read and respond to emails and look at the news and information channels on our website.

Regenerate: The networks, friendships and successes of the past are an important base to build from. Our rich history has shown us what can be achieved when a thoughtful group of people, connect in many places around the world. It is also important to be mindful of modern times, current opportunities that are accessible to many, and think about how we can best provide an offering that remains exciting to our members.

We must find ways to engage all generations of our membership, no matter how challenging this may appear. The youth are keen to exchange ideas, learn from each other and grow networks. The adult membership seeks opportunities to gather, experience new things, see unusual places and absorb culture. Both groups are looking for us to find cost effective ways to deliver excellent opportunities. Cost effective being key.

These issues will be discussed as part of the Council meeting, at this year’s European Conference taking place this September in Armenia. We would also like to hear from our chapter presidents and members. Please do send us your thoughts, ideas or observations.

Make Manifesto

Being a member of PTPI is a major way that I demonstrate my belief in the value of friendship, and a recognition for what can be done when the forces of people come together for good. It is more important now, to ensure that we express ourselves through our actions, so that our words bring to life what is already in our soul.

There is something unique about delivering useful things, activities and gatherings. Our actions are the pieces of us that embody the needs of humanity in the world as we encounter it today.

The Manifesto below, belongs to the Maker Community. I believe that many elements are a force that runs through much of what we do in PTPI. My intention in sharing this with you, is to reignite your passion for delivering local relevance to your communities.

Chalks Corriette, Chapter President, Brussels, Belgium

Make Manifesto

Sustain: recycle, upcycle, reuse; repair and repurpose; make, mend and learn. Because once is never enough.

Value: Treasure people, their time and skills. Learn and share; teach and be taught. Support your community to support itself; be self-sufficient, independent and inspired.

Disrupt: Challenge conventions and disrupt the way things are made, done and disposed of. Combine high-tech and traditional. Experiment; create; make.

Connect: Build a vibe and an ethos, as well as things. Share your skills, ideas and support. Be independent, together; be a community. Get to know your neighbours.

Regenerate: Make; manufacture. Save old skills and try new ones. Know your neighbourhood. Relish the old; seek the new.

Include: Cherish your differences; talk to each other and try things; learn and share skills. Together. Mix old and new. Collaborate.

Make: Draw, cut, sew, photograph, weld, try, test, tweak. Be curious; be creative. Join us.

Cause neutral fund development

I spend vast amounts of my time, investigating ways, means and avenues available to obtain funding for youth centered projects. By far the greatest challenge is competing with the many other noble causes that are out there. No one organization has the ability to prioritize what they are doing, above that of another organization. And, it would seem that on the international stage, there is no one organization with the mandate to set priorities for the world to follow. Don’t get me wrong, there are of course hot spots, development goals, studies and opinions.

Individuals are seeing record numbers of calls for their funding and support. And, most people will naturally lean towards an issue which has affected them personally, or touched a family member or close friend. There have been some calls for sources of funding that are cause neutral. This is to allow for obscure yet important social matters to obtain support, despite the initial appearance of the cause, which may not seem at all popular.

For those of us working with both disadvantaged and exceptional youth, our challenges are many. Every corner of most communities will have a project for disadvantaged young people. And, very few people see the benefits of helping exceptional youth to develop further. Unfortunately, both groups suffer from the same core issue. A shortage in support networks of passionate, dedicated and experienced adults able to guide them through the many tunnels and diversions that life throws at them.

The case for supporting a cause that is popular, will far out way the instinct to give to a cause neutral fund, at least today. So, people like me must be more direct in asking for financial support. The issues of youth are far and wide. We at People to People International Europe, focus our energies on giving youth a diverse set of experiences, supporting their personal and emotional development and orchestrating numerus possibilities to bring youth together for peer support.

We have been established in Belgium since 1970. And, operating as the European HQ for our Region since 2015. The PTPI European 2016 annual report can be found at this link.

Your contributions to People to People International-Europe, help make a lasting impact and empower our network, to be an active force in creating and sustaining a more peaceful world. Your donations go a long way to supporting the development of our young people.

Thank you
Chalks Corriette
President – European Executive Committee
Regional Chair, Europe

A glass of diverse cultures, abilities and sexualities in a Brussels pub

By: Angel Dimitrievski – Skopje, Macedonia, Community Chapter

Following an EEC Youth meeting in Brussels with Chalks Corriette, I spent some time exploring the melting pot of cultures, that make up Brussels.

It’s Sunday evening. I am reading a book in a pub in the heart of Brussels and the waiter turns off the radio. The ladies next to me take a small drum out of their bag, a few papers dripped with coffee and they start to sing. A melody that makes me stop doing everything at that moment, and I just listen to them. One girl had traveled from Brazil to visit her friends in Brussels, and learn new singing techniques from another lady who is retired, and has been singing her whole life. While they entertain the pub, guests from Zambia arrive and sit at the next table. One of the new arrivals joins the musicians and now they are synchronized as if they had sung together for years.

A girl in a wheelchair enters the pub a few minutes later. There are no obstacles stopping her from reaching the table where her friends wait for her. She talks about her work, and how she hates that the new working week starts tomorrow, Monday. Even though I have experienced the world of disability, quite deeply, it is astonishing for me how this girl has an exciting life, even though she is disabled. I know, it is nothing to be surprised at, and as an advocate and activist for the disabled community, I often say that this way of life should be the norm and not an exceptional situation. But, I just do not see this happen on a regular basis. It made me feel very good.

On the next table, two boys are drinking wine and speak about something in French, holding hands and celebrate their love. Maybe it’s an anniversary. In the country where I come from, probably this would be met with public humiliation or in the worst case, a beating. I just can’t imagine how someone would make that beautiful voice next to me, stop singing Brazilian songs, or forbidding these boys to show that they love each other.

But I could not get out of my mind, comparisons of my home country, where this was a problem and not a usual atmosphere on a Sunday evening. I finished my orange juice, congratulated the pub musicians on their performance and ate one last Belgian waffle before flying home. The waffle was small and extremely sweet, as was this weekend I spent in Brussels.

Youth Leadership Academy video – March 2017 in Macedonia

Dear PTPI Membership:
From: Angel Dimitrievski, Skopje Macedonia, Youth Coordinator Europe

Let me tell you some beautiful news that you will want to hear. As many of you probably saw on social media, last week (March 7 – 12) we organised the PTPI Europe Youth Leadership Academy, in Skopje Macedonia. This was for sure one of the best projects I have implemented since I started serving as Youth Coordinator for the European Region.

This Academy equipped 17 high school and university students about how to become future community leaders, and how to spread the mission of PTPI. And this energy is something that must be felt, and spread across countries and nations. The Academy brought Emil from Plovdiv to be homestayed at Georgino’s home in Skopje. They became brothers in five days. And at the bus station getting ready to head home Emil told me, that he is so connected to this family that he did not want to leave Macedonia.

There was a girl from Varna called Illyana that could not find the words to explain this experience. She wrote me a letter the evening before departure and handed to me at the bus station. There is a boy called Vlad from Romania who enjoyed a combination of Macedonian traditional kafana and good rock music. 

These amazing students attended the program that we had carefully prepared in the previous three months. The students were working on improving their team competences and shaping the ideal community leader. They participated in panel discussions about leadership topics, attended workshops on intercultural communication with Toni from Bulgaria, and project management with Emi from Plovdiv. And, most importantly they promised to deliver five wonderful projects, back in their home countries, making use of the skills they learned from the Academy. For me, this was confirmation that the event must run annually. It engages our youth in spreading the PTPI mission and confirms our commitment to the development of future leaders.

I want to send a big thank you to my Skopje team who supported me in implementing this idea. To Chalks, and PTPI Europe that supported us financially and with without whom this Academy, would not have happened and all. Also, the amazing students that participated, their adult support leaders and our workshop leaders.

Please take three minutes to watch this video. You can experience all that we covered in Skopje. (The video is only available to view on a computer).

Please always believe in the energy of our PTPI Youth membership, it is truly Magical.
Yours in Peace
Angel Dimitrievski

President, PTPI Skopje-Macedonia
Youth Coordinator, Europe region 

Note from Chalks: It has always been clear to me that we have a duty to deliver experiences, that will enrich the lives of our future leaders. Our youth make a commitment to PTPI, rather than spend their time on other stuff that young people often prefer to do! This whole event involved 22 people and cost less than 2000 euro – meals, travel, accommodation, materials, faculty: not a bad effort for a group of passionate and dedicated volunteers. I urge us all to do more, contribute more and believe in great outcomes for our collective future.

what does the European chair do these days?

The voluntary role of the PTPI European regional chair, looks quite different these days.  Now that there is no longer an operational office in Berlin, Germany, the European executive committee (EEC) team, take their guidance from the regional chair. This individual is also known as the president of the EEC.  To a certain extent there is no immediate pressure to deliver very much. The annual European conference is probably the biggest mandatory activity requiring attention.  Much of the effort for this event does fall to the hosting chapter. But there is still much to do centrally.  Developing webpages with all the necessary content, agreeing the agenda for the conference, confirming process for registration and money transfers, together with the event communications requires central leadership.

What I have noticed is that without a social entrepreneur driving things, it is all too easy for any region to aspire to achieving the bear minimum. The EEC must ensure that our accounts are in order, minutes from our meetings are circulated, our youth program is supported and that our communication channels show a sign-of-life.  To this end it is difficult to do the minimum because the chapters are in constant need of information. There is also some effort required in meeting World headquarters reporting needs.

It is down to us in the EEC to ensure that the European website is accurate and complete. The chapters require us to publish their news, both on our website and social media. Our weekly European newsletter must provide our chapters with a summary of what is taking place within the region. The newsletter is also the way in which we share information with our chapter presidents, and our nonmembers that may not know much about our projects and activities. We provide a process of continuous improvement, so that we are always learning. Feedback about our communications has been positive for the past three years.

Fund development is another aspect of our responsibility within the EEC.  This is a complex area because no one wants to give money away.  And yet everyone is happy to help in the delivery of great projects, that improve quality-of-life for as many people as possible. At People to People International we have always believed in replacing cultural barriers with cultural understanding.  We have also always been active in many communities through our humanitarian outreach.  We do need to improve transparency in everything that we do, so that potential donors will be more comfortable in supporting our projects.

The regional chair is instrumental in keeping the region on track.  That individual is also responsible for our legal representation in Belgium. There is never a dull moment in any day of the life of the regional chair.  Each day brings with it new challenges, new joys and an opportunity to add value to our people operations at PTPI Europe.

The road ahead requires a lot of collaboration, dialogue and negotiation.  The world is changing faster than any of us could ever have imagined. The issues posed by the migration of people no matter the reason, the constant speed at which technology is moving, and the demands placed on us via our 24-hour society will certainly keep us on our toes. Staying relevant to as many people as possible during these turbulent times, is by far the main thing that I must deal with as regional chair. Unless we remain relevant where ever we operate people will feel no need to pay for membership.  As chapters and members form the backbone of our organisation, it is important to ensure that we focus on what is important to them.

As a voluntary position the role of regional chair is quite challenging.  You can easily fill your whole week with projects and activities that would benefit many communities. So, you find you must balance the time that you have, with the other activities that occupy your life, such as family and probably work. Being a self-starter and entrepreneur, provides me with the understanding of the energy and motivation needed to be successful as an NGO. I’m looking forward to providing the opportunity for the younger PTPI members to take the leadership role.  It is important that we allow all kinds of minds, a wide range of skills and age groups to contribute to our NGO.

Chalks Corriette, PTPI Europe – EMIT sprl

Chalks –  is a social entrepreneur, European president of PTPI Europe and the managing director of EMIT (extraordinary moments in time).  His time is spent assisting businesses and communities to find common ground to work together. His collaborative and creative skills have proven an asset in making things happen. Chalks is particularly strong in marketing and communications, people operational matters and logistics.