Cooperation of Adult Education and Sustainable Citizen-led Initiatives for a Green Transition in Europe

First Partner Meeting of the Tale Project in Pécs, Hungary

The Tale Erasmus+ project responds to the urgent need to transform into a more sustainable, nature-aligned and socially just society by using transformative learning approaches and connecting adult education organisations with green grassroots initiatives. The project consortium is led by the Finnish Lifelong Learning Foundation and consists of nine partners from six countries and one associate partner working together during the 2-year duration of the project.

We set out with the following project objectives:

  • Provide new insights in how to further sustainability and green transition in collaboration between ALE institutions and communities
  • Establish cooperation between ALE institutions and grassroots initiatives working in the field of green transition /sustainability
  • Upscale transformative learning methods for green transition, thus contributing to capacity building both in the ALE sector and among the grassroots initiatives
  • Provide recommendations for successful transformative ALE and green transition
  • Develop a strong partnership to further the green transition of the ALE sector

Photo taken by Sari Phojola of the project partner group walking in the city of Pécs, Hungary.

The first day of the Tale project partner meeting in February 2023 was structured as a warm up and introduction to the people and organisation involved and the overall project objectives and process. The meeting was opened by colleagues at Kvs, Finnish Lifelong Learning Foundation, and we were warmly welcomed by our hosts from the Educators’ Centre Association, the Hungarian partner at the House of Civic Communities they run in the city of Pécs. It was a great moment to set the context for our collaboration doing Interactive activities to get to know each other, sharing intentions, expectations and opportunities for learning and contribution in the project.

Photo taken by Laura Kaestele of the partner meeting in the Civic Community House.

On the second day, we explored the main themes of the project: transformative learning and green grassroots initiatives. Valuable input, inspiration and presentations were given by George Koulaouzidis, Hellenic Open University, about transformative learning and Laura Kaestele, ECOLISE, about sustainable community-led initiatives in Europe and some examples of sustainable and transformative (informal) education practices. Together, we discussed these topics to clarify criteria and build a shared understanding for green grassroots initiatives, who will be contacted and invited to collaborate in a next phase of the project.

Photo taken by Sari Phojola of George Koulaouzidis giving a presentation about transformative learning.

During the meeting we had the opportunity to listen to presentations and do study visits to several sustainable, citizen-led initiatives in Pécs including the Green Bridge Foundation who run environmental education activities for kids, a basket community project to strengthen sustainable, local food systems, short supply chains and connection between farmers and consumers. We also learned about the UNESCO learning city initiatives in Pécs, visited the Retextil Foundation, who support people to reintegrate into the job market and upcycle old textiles into new products as well as the Balokány-Pepita Community Center, an initiative to maintain a public park and Eco City – Eco Region Foundation who involve citizens in sustainable actions like electric transport, composting or creating green cleaning products.

Photo taken by Laura Kaestele during the study visit to the Retextil Foundation in Pécs.

On the last day, we further discussed administrative, operational and financial aspects of the project to have clarity and build a strong basis for the ongoing project management and collaboration of all partner organisations. We also developed a shared communication and dissemination strategy to share insights, stories and experiences with a wider audience. We ended the meeting with a sense of connection, motivation, and a readiness to launch into practical activities. While we explored what transformative learning and green transition means we also sensed a need to build greater shared understanding and clarify the translation of these concepts into action and lived reality within the scope of this project.

Photo taken by Laura Kaestele from a project presentation during the partner meeting.

At the end of three days together, we feel grateful for the hosting organisation, the opportunity to meet in-person and build collaborative relationships that will nurture a successful project implementation. From our perspective at ECOLISE, it was wonderful to share inspiring sustainable community-led initiatives and practices from our network, to visit citizen-led projects in Pécs and connect more with our collaborators working in the field of adult education. We are excited about the project unfolding and look forward to a co-creative, fruitful and mutually beneficial process!

Outlook and next steps

If you know about or are from a sustainable community-led initiative in Finland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary or Greece that would be interested to contribute to the project and join an innovation group and cooperation with the ALE organisations please get in contact with Laura Kaestele, email laura.kaestele@ecolise.eu, as the project coordinator for Tale before June 5th 2023.

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