As Active Citizenship Director it is my responsibility to motivate and inspire the Local Presidents in JCI Denmark to implement the concept 0f Active Citizenship in their plans of action for the local chapters in the organisation. I am a big believer in practicing what I preach so a good friend of mine, Stephan, and I decided to give a training on Active Citizenship in our local JCI chapter, JCI Copenhagen International, at our monthly chapter meeting in January.
JCI Trainers – not for running, but they will get you where you want to go!
Stephan is a dedicated JCI trainer and very good teacher, so I was really happy to do the training with him. It is a difficult subject, and my experience so far as Active Citizenship Director is, that communication is EVERYTHING! Even Stephan and I don’t completely agree on the practical implementation of the definition – which made the training even better, in my opinion.
We have worked together before and the planning sessions are always enjoyable. Luckily for us, we are very efficient when we do the actual work, because a lot of our time is spent chatting.
This time we had a specific goal. Our Local President, Kim, had asked for a training session that got our members thinking about projects that we can do as a group in 2013. In my experience the best training sessions are the ones where we make something happen. It is very satisfactory to leave a training session and know that one has contributed to make a positive difference. One of the great things about the group of people is that they engage themselves whole-heartedly in JCI.
Therefore we were not concerned about our fellow members coming up with ideas for projects. We were more concerned about the time frame – introducing the group to a concept that was new to at least some of them, coming up with new ideas, and (very important) choose the best ideas and secure their future development and success by assigning responsibility for them to project managers.
On the day of our training, we showed up well in advance of the others so we had enough time to move around the furniture in the room, make the final arrangements with the staff at the Café Zusammen, and fret over the sound system (it is our experience that time for a sound check is adamant).
The training itself went really well. The participants brought enthusiasm and great inputs to the table and we almost made it to the finish line on time. There were many thoughts on what active citizenship is and how to implement the concept in our work in the organisation.
We had prepared well for the discussion on the definition of active citizenship, however it did take a few rounds of questions from us to get the discussions started. People’s experience and idea of what active citizenship is can be very different, and it takes a group of patient listeners to keep a productive discussion going.
The result of the training was three project ideas that the chapter members will work on during 2013:
“From Wii to Real” – the ideas is to engage kids to play outside without their smartphones and use their body and not just their thumbs! The group will partner up with schools and talk sponsorship deals with the city council and some of the bigger companies in Denmark.
“Young mothers’ foundation” – the mission is to educate and build up young mothers’ confidence. Potential partners include relevant NGOs.
“Bring the lights” – the idea is to light up the lake area in Christianshavn. Suggested partners incluce Bureau Detours and the City of Copenhagen.
– all good ideas that can make a lasting impact on the quality of life for a lot of people.
The chapters came up with three very interesting project ideas for 2013 and in the process, hopefully learned a little about active citizenship. I learned a lot too. My concerns about the complexity of the subject and the need for clear communication were well founded. I do think that the session was a success. We had a very enjoyable evening with some very interesting thoughts on what active citizenship is. I think that we as members of JCI like to define ourselves as active citizens and in my opinion we are not wrong.
The real challenge is (as it always is) following up on the work after the training session. I have confidence in my fellow “jaycees” – they are really cool active citizens!