Annual Report 2005
In 2005, the level of active participation by member groups increased significantly. Member groups were engaged in setting priorities and developing new projects more than in any previous year. The structure from 2004 to 2005 stayed the same, although we elected a new Steering Committee in July 2005 at the Annual General Meeting. Minor changes to our Charter and Statutes were also made at that time.
The network began the process of developing a Strategic Plan in September 2005. This involves an in-depth participatory process of assessing the strengths and weaknesses of our organisation, network structure and membership, setting mid-term goals and developing strategies and programmes to meet them. The strategic plan development is expected to continue in 2006 with consultations of the Steering Committee, Advisory Board, membership at large and various conferences and workshops throughout the year.
At the end of 2005 there were 54 Member Organisations, double the original founding number. In 2005, the focus turned to project development, and several new projects are currently in the works, and are being developed in a decentralised manner. These new projects have "project development pages" on Worldcarfree.net/projects/. Decentralised projects not listed in this report include the Carfree Area Pilot Project and the Carfree Institute.
Staff and office development
Kamila Blazkova joined the Prague team as our new office manager and European Voluntary Service internship programme coordinator, replacing Lucie Lebrova, office manager since 2003. For the first time, we hired a half-time accountant, Radka Tichavska. An outside accountant, Marek Sezima, verifies the accounts. For the first time we hired an outside auditor to audit the annual accounts of fiscal/calendar year 2004, which we passed without problem.
Graphic designer Tanja Eskola left in mid-2005 to complete her studies, but continues to produce front cover artwork for Carbusters magazine. Gandalf Tatting and Vincent Aronio joined us as European Voluntary Service interns, each for a one-year period. We are up to nine full- and part-time staff. All work in the office, except for Arianna Farnam, who normally works from home.
The larger office (two rooms plus entry, kitchen, storage, etc.) that we moved into in October 2004 has served us well. We have eight working stations with networked computers and broadband Internet. Most of the computers have been purchased new in the last two years. Other office resources include a telephone line, a fax line, two printers, a flatbed scanner, a slide/negative scanner and a combination fax machine/photocopier. The computers are equipped with Skype software and headphones for additional communications capability, helping us to cut costs.
For the second year we received a core grant from the European Commission, which covered about 2/5 of our core budget. In 2006 we will apply for a Council of Europe core grant that could make up most of the difference. Throughout 2005 we had a part-time fundraiser, Arie Farnam, who gets credit for bringing in the grants below. She will continue fundraising for WCN through 2006.
- International Visegrad Fund: €40,000 (book publishing, over three years)
- European Commission: €33,933 (core costs)
- European Commission: €28,302 (Ecotopia Biketour)
- European Commission: €11,040 (European Voluntary Service)
- Council of Europe: €10,000 (Tabor 2006 meeting - funds to be received in 2006)
- Network for Social Change: €4,876 [£3,300] (Autoholics Anonymous)
- Milieukontakt Oost-Europa: €1,500 (On the Train Towards the Future)
total core income: €75,543
- grants: €59,033
- memberships/subscriptions: €5,950
- other: €10,560
total core expenses: €75,533
- personnel costs: €40,092
- magazine printing & postage: €6,980
- travel: €5,563
- meetings: €5,520
- other printing: €5,140
- rent & utilities: €4,619
- communications: €2,587
- office supplies: €1,920
- postage (non-magazine): €1,613
- equipment: €1,199
- other: €300
In 2005, World Carfree Network launched its first coordinated effort towards media outreach, both for the network as a whole and for member organisations. During the second half of the year, our network was covered by more than ten international articles in publications or media broadcasts and by numerous local media.
Particularly around World Carfree Day various media showed interest in the activities of our network. Our effort to stop the arrests of cyclists at New York City's monthly Critical Mass rides also received some coverage.
We plan to redouble our efforts towards media outreach in 2006. In 2005, our members at the Annual General Meeting identified media outreach as a top priority.
Throughout 2005 we published a monthly e-bulletin, called World Carfree News, in four language versions (English, French, German and Czech). At the end of 2005, we added Spanish. The bulletin contains news and announcements relevant to our network and transport/urbanism issues in general. Approximately 2,000 people are subscribed to receive the free bulletin each month. Members of the network are involved in submitting news items for the bulletin. Often these news items are related to their NGO work in their respective countries.
Carbusters is a 32-page English-language quarterly magazine and one of World Carfree Network's most recognisable projects. It is a forum of ideas and information useful to those campaigning on transport issues or interested in involving themselves in transport reform. The magazine contains letters, world news, feature articles, interviews, cartoons, reports from transport-related events, and it is a gateway to our resource centre (see below).
In 2005, each issue was printed in 3,500 copies. Five hundred copies each issue were sent to subscribers. Various professional distribution companies disseminated many of the copies, which are available in bookstores and at relevant international conferences and events. We also have a network of independent distributors, often youth from our network, who distribute the magazine at cultural events. We also began sending the magazine to all of our member organisations, as Carbusters is the ideal platform for introducing many people to the carfree movement.
In 2005 we published issues 22-25, and gained several new distributors. Themes covered in Carbusters in 2005 included life on carfree islands, post-petroleum visions, and mobility rights.
Towards Carfree Cities V conference
Nearly 200 people from 30 countries descended on Budapest, Hungary, from July 18-22 for Towards Carfree Cities V, World Carfree Network's annual conference. The participants of the conference were a mix of students, NGO activists, urban design scholars, professional transport planners and municipal decision-makers. The days were filled with presentations, hands-on activities, workshops, on-site visits to innovative local projects, and social evening events such as a documentary film night, a cultural exchange evening and a closing party with a live band.
Towards Carfree Cities V lived up to the standards set by the four previous conferences, and Clean Air Action Group was an excellent host and organiser. The Hungarian press, television and radio media covered the conference extensively. The project development aspect of the conference was very successful, with many projects such as the Carfree Area Pilot Project and Mobility Justice Project moving forward.
Annual General Meeting
Following the Towards Carfree Cities V conference, World Carfree Network's second Annual General Meeting was held on July 22, 2005, from 9:30 am to 6:30 pm at the University of Technology and Economics (BME) in Budapest, Hungary. It was attended by approximately 50 people. Members of 24 Member Organisations (including the new ones) were present. Seven staff members of the ICC (International Coordination Centre) were present. The meeting was facilitated by Daniel Swartz of the Zhaba Facilitors Collective (www.zhaba.cz).
At the meeting, projects were evaluated, priorities set, the Steering Committee and Advisory Board chosen, and changes to the statutes ratified. A media working group was established to do press outreach throughout the coming year.
A one-time decision was made to give four Steering Committee members one-year terms so that from now on the two-year terms would be staggered. The incoming Steering Committee is Markus Heller (Germany), Sara Stout (USA), Rajendra Ravi (India), Giselle Xavier (Brasil), and for one-year positions, as they applied for: Ton Daggers (NL), Randall Ghent (CZ) (from ICC, mandatory one-year position), Gabrielle Herrmann (Germany/USA), Carlos Felipe Pardo (Colombia/Thailand), and Wu Yi-Ting (Taiwan-Australia).
The Advisory Board is John Adams (UK), Katie Alvord (USA), JH Crawford (Portugal), Annette Egetoft (Denmark), Francois Schneider (France), John Whitelegg (UK), and newly elected are Oscar Edmundo Diaz (Colombia), Mari Jussi (Estonia), Lake Sagaris (Chile), Pascal Van Den Noort (NL) and Andrew Wheeldon (S. Africa).
The full minutes of the AGM are found at www.worldcarfree.net/members/agm2005.php (requiring a password to enter the members section of the website).
Our mail-order and on-line resource centre offers books, videos, magazines, bike stickers and other materials useful for active environmental education. In 2005, we filled approximately 30 orders per month, which involves packaging and posting materials. In addition, we offer 'Freesources' (downloadable text files of articles, thought pieces and studies). This year the Resource Centre was moved from Carbusters.org to Worldcarfree.net. In 2006 we will be expanding the range of resources to include languages other than English.
We have four websites - Worldcarfree.net, Carbusters.org, Thebiketour.net and Autoholics.org (the latter to be inactive until mid-2006). In 2005, Carbusters.org continued to be the main website for our magazine - in late 2005, it underwent a redesign to give it a new look. Worldcarfree.net is the main website for World Carfree Network, and includes links to the other sites. The site includes a page each for our International Coordination Centre, Steering Committee, Advisory Board, Charter, Statutes, Annual Meeting Minutes, Projects, Discussion Lists, E-Bulletin, Conference, Resource Centre, and Links. Thebiketour.net is dedicated to the Ecotopia Biketour. We aim to offer as much useful information as possible on our websites, in as many languages as possible.
Expansion of on-line resources
In 2005, our staff significantly expanded the free on-line resources available to our member groups. Specifically, our staff developed a user-friendly guide to fundraising for alternative transport projects, with a special section on opportunities to apply for European Commission grants. This resource is important to our member groups because it is probably the only place where small NGOs can get specific information on funding opportunities for sustainable transportation without paying expensive fees.
Our staff also included a media outreach kit, including a service for sending out press releases, a guide to writing press releases for youth organisations and a list of experts in various transport, energy and environmental subjects which have agreed to be resources and references to the media for World Carfree Network groups.
World Carfree Network's on-line resources also include fact sheets on alternative transport, transport financing, emissions and energy security, which many youth organisations use in their public awareness raising.
Finally, WCN's webpages include collaborative publishing software, called Wiki pages, where member groups can develop texts for project plans, press releases, information materials and self-published books. The Wiki program allows users to input text and keeps track of future edits from remote users. As a result, several projects in 2005 have involved cooperative writing and editing by groups in widely diverse geographic areas.
World Carfree Day
We actively supported participation in the September 22 World Carfree Day. World Carfree Network provided information to local community and youth groups on such topics as how to organise local events, and collected many reports from participating groups. We provided an on-line organising forum and helped smaller groups involved in our network to form cross-border partnerships. In addition, we assisted in the organisation of a public educational event in Prague on a public square in the city centre. The September 22 event focused on activities for children. Our World Carfree Day website is www.worldcarfree.net/wcfd/. In 2006, we hope to have more staff time available for World Carfree Day international promotion, and to work more closely with the coordinators of the European Carfree Day/Mobility Week programme.
One of our key goals is to increase youth participation during European Carfree Day and Mobility Week. In 2005, there was a huge growth in youth interest, particularly in community bicycle rides called Critical Mass. Critical Mass rides serve to provide public education and give youth an opportunity to meet with their community and express their views in a constructive way. There were several very successful community rides both during Mobility Week and at other times of the year. In particular, in Budapest, Hungary our member group the Hungarian Young Greens used WCN's publicity materials and support to organise a Critical Mass ride with 30,000 participants, as part of European Mobility Week.
The newly renamed and redesigned Carfree Green Pages (www.worldcarfree.net/greenpages) includes more than 500 organisations from around the world who are dedicated to promoting alternatives to the automobile lifestyle. We actively addressed the organisations listed in the directory, asking them to help promote the Carfree Green Pages on their websites by placing its logo on their webpage. This year we also actively sought out new listings, either by contacting likeminded groups directly or by asking our existing partners and collaborators to encourage groups they know to enter a listing in the directory.
In November and December we worked on updating a book that we self-published in 2002 - CARtoons by Andy Singer. CARtoons has proved to be one of our most valuable resources, using humour and an easily accessible graphic design to educate people about environmental and sustainability issues. The original 4,000 copies had sold out, and the new version was published in February 2005.
We also continue to distribute our second 2002 book, Roadkill Bill by Ken Avidor. In addition, a member of our staff has produced a North American version of the popular British book, Cutting Your Car Use by Anna Semlyen. It will be released by New Society Publishers in June 2006. Cutting Your Car Use is a pocket-sized book with practical information on how to get by with less driving or live without a car.
In 2005, we launched a new effort within our Resource Centre to publish books in languages other than English. Our focus is particularly on the small languages of Central and Eastern Europe where public education materials on environment and transport are particularly rare. We received a three-year strategic grant from the International Visegrad Fund to boost our Resource Centre with books in Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Slovak. In 2005, we began coordination with partners in each of the relevant countries and started on the translation of CARtoons into these four languages. The books will be published in spring 2006. We are also planning to publish a "Carbusters Reader," featuring the best Carbusters magazine content from issues 1-30.
Mobility Justice Project
In July 2005, the Mobility Justice Project was conceived at the Towards Carfree Cities V conference. The project is a response to calls from member groups for more action on mobility justice and equal rights to access to transport infrastructure. The project is planned as an awareness-raising platform to launch information campaigns and dialogue with policy makers. The project will aim to promote the rights of those who can't drive cars or who wish to use public transport, cycle or walk. It will cover both issues of physical access and problems of inequity in financing for non-motorized transport. In the near future, information campaigns are planned to promote accessibility for people with disabilities to public transport.
In 2005, the Mobility Justice Project focused on media outreach and a letter-writing campaign to halt the mass arrests of cyclists in New York City. The campaign began when cyclists from New York visited the Towards Carfree Cities V conference in Budapest and explained the problem of tensions between police and cyclists in their city. WCN's information campaign resulted in favourable articles in several American publications, such as The Village Voice, which welcomed the efforts of European citizens to mediate the tensions between police and cyclists. Then, in October 2005, after more than a year of unrest, the arrests of cyclists temporarily stopped and WCN turned to a positive effort to keep the peace. In November 2005, World Carfree Network began the process of training young people from various European countries as legal observers to monitor and mediate in similar situations.
On the Train Towards the Future
Another project launched in 2005 is "On the Train Towards the Future" (OTTF). This is a long-term project to develop an intensive and participatory public education campaign on the inter-related themes of sustainable mobility, climate change and carfree communities. The first focus area of the project is Central and Eastern Europe. In OTTF, the introduction of a new railway or public transport vehicle, infrastructure or programme serves as an "ambassador" or "bridge" to discussion of our three themes: A new tram can take someone by the hand towards a carfree life. The project received a seed grant from the Dutch Mileukontakt Oost-Europa Foundation. The project is entirely decentralised and mostly volunteer run and its development has garnered significant new contacts for World Carfree Network among rail and public transport associations.
Ecotopia Biketour 2005
The Ecotopia Biketour is a youth-run long-distance bike tour that has taken place each summer since 1990, with 30-60 participants at a time, over a period of 4-6 weeks. The goal is to bring together youth from across Europe and create a mobile sustainable community in which decisions are made together on a consensus basis, and tasks are equally shared. After travelling from Banja Luka (Bosnia) to Saharna (Moldova) over five weeks, the 2005 bike tour successfully came to a close at the annual Ecotopia gathering, organised by EYFA (European Youth for Action). World Carfree Network was the organiser of this 15th annual Biketour, in which 50 participants from approximately 20 countries took part. World Carfree Network is also organising the 2006 bike tour, which will go from Lithuania to Slovakia. The international coordinator is hosted as an EVS volunteer in our Prague office. The website is Thebiketour.net.
Contributions to the Ecotopia gathering
The Ecotopia Gathering in 2005 took place in Saharna, Moldova from August 9-23. World Carfree Network has a long-standing tradition of cooperation with the primary organiser of the gathering, European Youth for Action. WCN contributed this year by bringing participants from our Biketour, promoting the gathering to the public and by providing several educational workshops during the gathering, particularly concerning opportunities for young people to become EVS volunteers or participate in other European-level programmes. The website is www.eyfa.org/ecotopia2004intro/.
Other events attended by World Carfree Network staff or project coordinators:
(UNIFE = Association of European Railway Industries)
Prague, Czech Republic - 18-20 May
European Social Forum Preparatory Assembly
Prague, Czech Republic - May 28-June 1
Velo City 2005 conference
Dublin, Ireland - 30 May to 3 June
(exhibition, trade show and seminar)
Ostrava, Czech Republic - 14-16 June
Conference on Sustainable Development and Local Agenda 21
(hosted by Heinrich Boell Foundation - Brandenburg)
Poznan, Poland - 29-30 August
TRAKO 2005 - Sixth International Railway Fair
(railway exhibition and trade show)
Gdansk, Poland - 12-14 October
The European Advantage
Seminar on opportunities for NGOs to work with EU policies on transport
Prague, Czech Republic - 23-24 November
European Mobility Week planning meeting
Prague, Czech Republic - 25 November
French Greenways and Related Projects in Lyon
(UN Information Centre seminar with Frederic Rollet of Association Française
de développement des Véloroutes et Voies Vertes)
Prague, Czech Republic - 8 December