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Newsletter from Oikosnet Europe February 2016

I hope this newsletter finds you well, and that 2016 have started in a good way for all of you. This is the first Oikosnet Europe newsletter for 2016, and below you find information about several interesting upcoming events. The next newsletter will appear in your mailbox early in April. It will among other things include a report from the OE board meeting that will take place in Prague just before Easter. Please let us know if you have something you want to see in the newsletter. If so, write to

Alf Linderman, Executive Director of the Sigtuna Foundation

Dedicated at work beyond immediate success!

This is Hofstadter's law: ‘It always takes longer, even if you take into account Hofstadter's law’. In my view and experience it appears to be true in very many cases, also in our work as Academies and Laity Centres.

As an example: for decades some of our members were and still are active in the field of environmental issues. Now we have had ‘Paris’ with the agreement regarding climate change. The need was clear for many of our colleagues, studying this matter. And the need for implementation is still there – with resonance to the same law. It took years, we had to wait disappointing long years before having results at this political level. Now there are results. And we look forward to the next steps with the same type of eagerness to see changes realised.

This is just one example out of many in the rich history of our members. For me it points at the poisoning effect of the requests for immediate successes, for a quick return on investment in our work, for a time-horizon of only a couple of years, which seems to be dominant when looking for a high shareholders value. It takes more than a while before a promising seed delivers a rich crop.

Although it doesn’t sounds very encouraging at the first reading, for me it is yet encouraging. It makes clear that decent groundwork, careful building up of a network, properly planned activities and discussions will enable next steps, new successes. And it is enabled by previous steps.

Recently I have had quite intense exchanges with someone who considers himself a peacemaker. Not by choice but as it happened in his life. He worked within an organisation, which was characterised by many others as a terrorist organisation – for quite good reasons. Yet he described himself also as a peacemaker since he was working from within the organisation to keep in contact with those who were looking for fundamental changes outside their organisation. He could survive since he kept hope for peace due to the endless work of others. He kept hope since he saw the support of the general public for terroristic acts decrease. He noticed the support for peace negotiations growing.

Exactly in that field of public and political awareness our members of Oikosnet are working: placing issues on the agenda, discussing options for ways forward, expressing hope and alternatives through cultural events, through new contacts, through cultures of welcoming a type of interdependency among people. The changes don’t come without crises. That’s for sure. They come through endurance of many, through support of others, through dedication and mutual trust. In my view that is why organisations like our academies, our centres and movements and also Oikosnet represent contributions to fundamental changes. Let’s continue working on that, also with so called terrorists. We can extinct them, nor within ourselves neither outside ourselves, so let us work on changing them and ourselves.

Jaap van der Sar, President Oikosnet Europe

Last call for proposals to the European Commisions project to prevent intolerance

Deadline for submitting proposals February 18th 2016.

Following the 2015 Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights  dedicated to “Tolerance and respect: preventing and combating antisemitic and anti-Muslim hatred in Europe“, the European Commission has published a call for proposals under the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme.  

The Commission will award €5.4 million to projects on: training and capacity building to strengthen criminal responses to hate crime and hate speech; exchanging best practices to prevent and combat all forms of intolerance; empowering and supporting victims of hate crime and hate speech. As a result of last year’s  call for proposals, financial support has been awarded to a number of projects including “Research, Report, Remove” and “eMORE”, which both focus on monitoring, mapping and the removal of online hate speech. More detail on the call for proposals can be found here.

Fighting Empires with Umbrellas

The Sigtuna Foundation, Sweden May 20 - 22, 2016

Together with the Norwegian Areopagos Foundation, and the Tao Fong Shan Foundation in Hong Kong, the Sigtuna Foundation is organizing a conference in Sigtuna in May this year. The idea is to use the so-called Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong, a social protest movement in the Fall of 2014 that was widely covered in European media, as a lens to understand the Chinese situation and to explore further several more general questions.

The conference will take place at the Sigtuna Foundation 19-22 May 2016. In mid-February, the Sigtuna Foundation will send out an invitation to members of Oikosnet Europe to be part of this meeting. The Foundation will cover all costs for food and accommodation here in Sigtuna, but participants will have to cover their own travel expenses. If you are interested in taking part of the conference please contact the office of Oikosnet Europe

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Save the date for the Annual Conference

Prague 7th - 11th of September 2016

“Transition Accomplished or Mission Impossible – Economic Developments and Civil Society. The example of the Czech Republic”- that is the scheduled working title for the annual conference in Prague, 7 to 11 September 2016 upon invitation of the Ecumenical Academy Prague and its Director Jiri Silny.

As usual, the Annual Conference will be preceded by a meeting of the Gender and Justice Network and the Oikosnet Board.

If you are interested in attending, please note these dates in your agenda. The official invitation will be issued to Oikosnet members by letter as well as through this newsletter in the first half of 2016. Read more

Discover Crete !

Hikes and encounters with culture, history and orthodoxy

Thinking about Crete – some people remind the Matala of the time of the hippies and about the film adaption of the novel from the famous author Kazantzakis “Alexis Sorbas”. Others are thinking about the cruelties done by the Germany during the Second World War. Today above all there is a dark cloud: the financial crisis in Greece. The Evangelical Academy of bad Boll is connected to the Orthodox Academy of Crete (OAK) from the beginning. The OAK is wonderful seated at the sea and will be a first reference point of our study and hiking trip. Exciting canyons, wild herbs, olives and wine, the music of the lyre, literature, the Minoans, Romans and Turks – on Crete there is a lot to discover.

The guide is a Greece speaking German.

The study & hiking trip to Crete is arranged  from Stuttgart, Germany, 29th of May until the 9th of June 2016

Detailed program

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