These are Bill Densmore's running notes of the 2012 U.S.-Russia Civil Society Partnership Program. As other examples of coverage turn up on the web, I'll try to provide links.
The key question for the U.S.-Russia Civil Society Partnership: is it possible for ordinary citizens in each country to come together to share civil-actoin agenda items even in a climate of some official impediments?
In opening remarks, Dan Russell, deputy assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, descries the Russian government's decision to order the end, after 20 years, of activities by USAID in Russia. Despite this, said Russell: "U.S.support for Russian civil society is going to continue." When the USAID program started, there were fewer than 100 civil-society organizations identified in Russia, said Russell. Now, he said, there are hundreds of thousands.
- Sustainability of rural communities around issues such as lack of infrastructure, brain drain and outdated policies.
- Study of wetlands degradation in both countries
- Help with transition Russian orphanage residents to adoptive-home settings
- Totem Necklace Project, Altai Republic and Glacier National Project
- International Grassroots Collaboration for Sustainability Development (Lake Tahoe and Lake Baiku)
- Forest-dependent communities in Russian Far East environmental compliance / Siberian Forest
Recalling the 1985 cross-continent TV of Phil Donahue and Vladimir Pozner
In 1985, American TV talkshow host Phil Donahue and Russian journalist Vladimir Pozner used cross-content satellite technology to co-host live at the same time in each of their countries a series of unscripted, Q-and-A citizens-in-the-studios discussions about their nations' points of common social interest. As a frame for this week's discussions in Washington, Donahue and Pozner are present, and we are reviewing that historic "Space Bridge" interchange which came as Russian society was becoming dramatically more open.
Posner / Donahue comments today?
Now Pozner and Donahue are on stage and are leading a discussion -- how would a "Space Bridge" discussion proceed today?
Pozner noticed that, in reviewing the 1985 video, the Russian audience is careful and does not want to speak government or politics. He got 77,000 letters. Most comment thoughts expressed: Where did you find such idiots for the studio. The second comment: "I saw my face and I did not like it." There was a feeling that people that were not open. I will today address you Americans as if you were still in Seattle. If we had the same Space Bridge today, what would be the behavior of the Russian audience today? Would it be as it was 27 years ago, or would it be different?