Report from the OIKOSNET Board meeting

 24th to the 26th in Corrymeela / Northern Ireland

IMG_20141124_082100The board of Oikosnet held its 3rd meeting of this year in Corrymeela Northern Ireland. Corrymeela is a Christian community, situated about 100km north of Belfast at the east coast of Northern Ireland whose objective is the promotion of reconciliation and peace-building through the healing of social, religious, and political divisions in Northern Ireland.  It was founded in 1965 by Reverend Ray Davey and it will host our annual conference next year. The board members present in Corrymeela were Jaap van der Sar (president), Katalin Zoltani (vice-president), Marieliesa von Thadden and Sören Lenz and our new Executive Secretary Rüdiger Noll. Konstantinos Zorbas our new treasurer wasn’t able to come due to other obligations.Fortunately Hermann Düringer assisted us as a voluntary secretary to help us with the administrative work.

A new dynamic
After the very encouraging annual meeting in Villigst, due to an excellent organization and very stimulating speakers we discussed how we could still improve our communication between us and the centers and how we could present our Annual Report in a more “exciting” way?  The first year after the departure of showed us how much depends on a good coordination and one person who keeps the oversight of what’s going on in our centers. The board is really happy that Rüdiger Noll will continue keeping together the information which is necessary when we want to become our network more efficient in many ways.

Annual meeting in Corrymeela – Culture of  remembrance – Some ideas for the conference theme in 2015
“We don’t tell stories as they are, we tell them as we are” explained us the new community leader Pádraig Ó Tuama and he presented us some ideas in order to prepare of the next Annual Conference. Remembering, peace building and political learning will be the key words for the meeting of Oikosnet members in September 2015 in Corrymeela.

In this context we hope to inject a new dynamic in the gender and justice network in need of new ideas and ne forms. One of the ideas discussed was the creating of a more “down to earth” preconference which could tie up with our former tradition of visiting communities followed by a more academic main conference in the hosting centre.

We met as well the new Executive director Colin Craig who explained us the challenges for Corrymeela in their present work. He told us that Corrymeela Community will be very glad to welcome us and to share with Oikosnet their festivities in occasion of its 50 years anniversary.

Business as usual or Membership issues – our office in Sigtuna
At the present Oikosnet has 47 members which are more or less active. At the Villigst meeting a lot of “sleeping” members were present so the board is very hopeful that the reconstruction of the “New Oikosnet” will create a new dynamic and bring back some members which often don’t know the existence of our network.

One important issue s on our agenda was the creation of our main office in Sigtuna  (Sweden) which was decided at the General Assembly in Villigst. In a practical way Sigtuna has already taken over a part of our communication work by editing the newsletter. Alf Linderman, executive general director of Sigtuna and Rüdiger Noll will work closely together in this time of transition. The question was raised whether a changing of the actual form of our organization (association registered in Germany under German law) could be more appropriate or even necessary with our secretariat in Sweden.  The board will sound out legal possibilities and practical consequences of this question.

Strengthening our East European members
When we are look at the present situation with the Ukraine conflict and the problems in Eastern Europe it is very important to strengthen the links to our East European partners. The idea of a peaceful Europe is not only threatened by all form of extremism and nationalism but as well by a growing indifference in the population in behalf of Europe. Therefore the board is willing to strengthen our east European members by funding a regional conference. Katalin will make the first steps to bring them together under the aspects what they expect from Oikosnet and in which form our East European members would like to contribute for the development of our network.

We all were very taken by the very warm welcome and the perfect organization we met in Corrymeela. We were glad to welcome for one day Walter Lüssi, our treasurer, who handed us over the financial report. We’ll miss him for his perfect way to handle difficult financial tasks without great speeches and with his unbeatable Suisse humor. Special thanks go to Shona Bell who made us feel at home during these three days. We’re all looking forward to our annual conference from the 9th to 13th of September 2015 in Corrymeela.

Sören Lenz, Liebfrauenberg, France

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