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Township Community Forum – Creating a Vision for the Town of Zsámbék

In September we held a community planning session with the aim of creating a vision for the town of Zsámbék.

The Township Community Forum (TCF) is a gathering of independent individuals who are able and willing to make responsible decisions regarding the future of the township, and to act upon these decisions. It is a group of the residents of a given settlement which addresses current or overwhelming challenges faced by the settlement, or topics that have bearing on the future of the settlement, and do so in a constructive and result-oriented manner.

The overall advantage of any TCF, and the Zsámbék Township Community Forum in particular is that the contents of documents that have significant impact on the future – the vision – of the town can be drafted to include not only the thoughts and ideas of the members of the governing body but also those of local families, entrepreneurs and heads of local institutions, by entering a shared planning process.

Below you will find the announcement page for the event, an excerpt from the detailed description of the meeting, as published in the local newspaper Zsámbéki Polgár, as well as select feedback from participants, and a snapshot from the program.

Excerpt – Zsámbéki Polgár, October Issue

"Take the mayor’s place and make decisions about community planning" – this was the announcement that invited citizens of Zsámbék to come and meet Mayor László Horváth on the 19th and 20th of September, at the Zsámbék House of Culture. The event was one of the most significant development planning forums for the town where participants could join in to collectively shape the vision of Zsámbék. Facilitated by Concordia Organization and Leadership Development Ltd., the event was attended by about 60 people who could work in smaller groups to discuss various topics. There was a running commentary of the events through the Facebook Group "Zsámbék 2030" where the program is also well documented with plenty of still photographs and video footage.

The Local Government of Zsámbék has begun elaborating the vision of the town. When planning the document which, by nature, bears immense significance for the entire town, it was considered paramount that it should contain suggestions not only from council members but also from local families, entrepreneurs and heads of institutions. Therefore program coordinator Ms Zsuzsa Marthi and members of the local council invited all citizens to a creative workshop. The forum started in the early morning and lasted one and a half days. The community planning was coordinated by Dr Kata Menyhárt, Sándor Pataki and Tamás Benedek Szilágyi, consultants and senior members of Concordia Organization and Leadership Development Ltd..

(…) Having drawn up a synthesis of individual ideas, participants used the second half of the day to draft the 2015 vision of the town. On the second day they continued to work in thematic groups. Ideas from Day One were converted into specific project ideas, while they also had to formulate tasks that could be realistically completed before the end of the local government term, and support these with detailed action plans. There were several ideas to consider and the groups presented their suggestions through their elected spokesperson. There were some discussions, conflicts of opinions, but by the end participants could come up with a mutually acceptable consensus. Several presentations were met with applause. The atmosphere of the workshop was particularly good, and a large number of ideas were processed in an organised manner.

A Selection of Participant Oponions

"I believe it was a success; diverse people came and took part, sharing their dreams. Diversity makes us stronger."

"Sharing our thoughts was assisted by the well-controlled thematic structure, making it possible to achieve consensus despite the large number of participants."

"A community was formed. Participants were active, we formulated common objectives and defined specific tasks."

"This was a complete success. We have a thematised vision for our community. It was great."

"It was nice to be able to think together, to be together, to build a community, and to draw up a direction we can follow."

"We have seen cooperation, shared creation and unison for a common purpose."

"We were open-minded. Others’ ideas mattered, we could get to know what others were thinking and hoping to do."

"I enjoyed the creative brainstorming, and then the systematising, the ranking, and drawing up an action plan for the ideas."

"Thinking together, working together. It built a bridge between the local government and the community."

'We had a targeted group work towards a shared objective, with no political overtones."

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