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Institute for Social and Humanistic Initiatives (ISHI)

An NGO in Archangelsk. Northern Russia  - Established 1998.

Gleb Tiurin (December 2000) Director of ISHI

Contact us glt@arh.ru  (Our Internet page will appear soon)

The ISHI is  working  with the problems of local development in the rural districts of Archangelsk region. As with many parts of Russia the North is notable for its dramatic social and economic problems.

One of the worst signs of the crisis is a mass disability and unwillingness of people to take initiatives. As in Soviet times, when everything was strictly instructed and ruled from above, many people are waiting for decisions to be made for them from top down.

We try to assist people in learning how to survive by themselves; especially in how to co-operate and to self-govern their local communities. This really is a big challenge for a post-communist (post-totalitarian) society.

We have developed a programme of activities aimed at the support and development of local initiatives. This programme was introduced to the authorities and is supported by the Regional Government. The programme includes:

bulletHelp in creation of  groups for local development.
bulletProviding local groups with trainers-facilitators who can enable their work.
bulletEstablishing relationships between local groups and municipalities and state power, lobbying their interests on the municipal and regional levels.
bulletProviding local groups and municipalities with various educational and consulting services (work in circles, training, seminars, round tables, so on)
bulletHelp in implementation of concrete plans and projects, in fundraising (creation of a fund of mini-grants)
bulletAccumulation and introduction of existing examples of positive experiences of local development (historic and modern, Russian and from abroad).
bulletCarrying out sociological and other studies showing the real situation in the community, creation and upholding different data bases on local communities.
bulletCarrying out evaluation and description of local resources and assets
bulletSupplying local societies with necessary information, publishing a newspaper on the items of local development which also represent news from districts collected via a network of correspondents. Website on local development.
bulletDeveloping international co-operation in the field of local development at the grassroots level.
bulletPromotion of the ecological approach to local problems.
bulletand some others

We are not yet covering the whole list of these tasks, but they are our target. We are at the beginning of the process of change. We have initiated a number of pilot projects which led to the creation of local development groups in a dozen villages. The process of change has begun.

Our programme will be carried out gradually as a number of consecutive steps (minor projects). The first are:

  1. "Local development leaders' club", seminars, a Fund of support
  2. The work of trainers-facilitators with practical projects in villages.
  3. Information Agency (spreading info on local development through local newspapers)

This year, with the support of Archangelsk Regional Administration, we have started a project to prepare a manual on local (rural) development.This will provide a basic vision and will help village people to find answers for such questions as:

bulletWhat is local development?
bulletWhat is a Local Development group?
bulletWhat is its mission?
bulletHow to start an LD group and make its work sustainable

We are looking for partnership with everybody involved in local development. We are ready to listen to (and steal from) anyone who can say something worthwhile. We consider that consolidation of efforts and information exchange SPANing is what we need now.

For January 2001 we are arranging the Round Table "Seeking for New Ways". This has the financial support of the Open Society Institute (Soros Foundation - Russia) in one of the rural districts of our area. We will really appreciate your participation in any way in the process of real changes in the old rural areas of the Russian North.



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