Article by Ripess Europe

In February 2024, the HATI – SOS (Hard Times Soft Skills) project organized a regional social solidarity economics forum in Budapest, Hungary. HATI-SOS project is focusing on supporting SSE with the development of alternative educational approaches in four CEE countries (Slovakia, Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary).

The goal of the forum was to strengthen the network and to build up the ecosystem of European Social Solidarity Economiy, to share knowledge and learn about good practices. The participants had the opportunity to learn about the struggles and success of various NGOs, activist groups and social cooperatives from the V4 countries and all across Europe.

The first day of the forum focused on the theoretics of social solidarity economy: a presentation given by Ana Margarida Esteves on culture, politics and intergenerational legacies in solidarity economy, followed by a presentation of the work of the polish Fundacja Ekorozwoju and their work in food sovereignty and a roundtable talk about solidarity economy with members of RIPESS and the hungarian .organization, TVE.

The forum was held in Gólya, which is one of the biggest cooperatives in Hungary. At the end of the first day the participants had the opportunity to get a glimpse of the cooperative’s operations and daily life,to learn about their difficulties and good practices and through their story, to understand the Hungarian context in which they operate.

The second day of the Forum was all about sharing knowledge and good practices. With presentations from cooperatives from all across Europe, participants had the chance to learn about various initiatives, like the fair trade bio coffee roastery of the Czech Ekumenicka Akademie, or the story of the croatian ZMAG.

The second half of the day called ”Good Practice Fair” consisted of many, mostly hungarian NGOs and activist groups presenting their work, side by side, next to each other: people moved around the tables, getting to know the presenters like the Hungarian Food Bank, the Food Not Bombs organization, the Filantrópia Charity Shop and many more.

Self care and community care is a soft skill that is very important for the partnership of the HATI – SOS project, that is why after a long day of learning and networking, the second day of the forum was finished by playing a game. A game that is fun and educational at the same time: explaining a picture to a blindfolded person, in order to help them draw that said picture brings a lot of laughter and also sharpens the skills of communication and active listening.

The SSE forum in Budapest was closed with a field trip to the Filantrópia Charity Shop, where participants gained insights into the everyday life of a social enterprise, got a chance to see concrete example of overproduction and overconsumption and an alternative way to reduce waste and strive for a more sustainable lifestyle.

The partnership of the HATI -SOS project would like to thank all the people who helped organize this event, all the speakers and all the participants for these three days of networking, exchanging knowledge and having fun!