"The river carries us in a fantastic boat", or how social agreements make cities better
While Vopli Vidopliasova is singing about the country of dreams, Ukrainians, full of cool ideas, are taking real steps on the way to a dream country every day. And private businesses often help them, supporting important social projects, and, sometimes, absolutely fantastic community initiatives.
It's not so easy to google and find what social agreements are and how they work. Therefore, Rubryka decided to explain everything on the example of a giant aquarium, street lighting, and school. Let's go with us on board a "fantastic boat" and let's go to the Olevsk district!
What is the problem?
"We were told it was impossible," or the beginning of a great voyage
Summer. Olevsk area. A young man comes to the Ubort River near the village of Khochyne again. He often swims here and knows the area well. In the middle of the cool water, so a thing resembling a log attracts his attention. Darken from moisture wood peeks out of the water for one or two centimeters. The guy swims closer, looks around.
There are a lot of logs in this river, an oak grove is right next to the pond, so no wonder. But this time the man came across a pine tree. So what did it forget here?
He takes a deep breath, dives into the water, one more touch, another touch… And an underwater boat. Almost a nine-meter-long boat, which can be excavated and retrieved only ten years after the date of the first meeting. A boat that will cost a lot of effort and a lot of money to save. And which will be well worth it.
The director of the Tourist Information Center of the Olevsk City Council Anna Vzhesinska says that the find is unique, but it's not so easy to preserve it. Preservation is required to prevent the wood from collapsing from the inside.
"The boat seemed to be stuck in the ground. It was dug up and lifted from the water in August 2020. The length of the boat is 8.7 meters. It is made of pine, hollowed out by hand. On Khortytsia, such huge boats are placed in a special solution in a metal tub and this boat should lie there for 7-10 years. For us, this is also the only way out, but it will be very unfortunate if the boat cannot be seen for so long," says Anna Vzhesinska. And then she adds:
"We had an idea. And we were told for a long time that it was impossible…"
What is the solution?
And the solution is always people!
Social partnership is a type of cooperation between community representatives and business representatives. The former talk about the idea and its importance, and the latter provide financial assistance for its implementation. Neither party receives commercial profit from such agreements. All the pros go to the community account.
The social agreement was also signed by an initiative group involved in saving the boat. Anna Vzhesinska says that since refusing conservation of a boat means refusing to preserve it, they decided to save it in a transparent glass vessel.
"And we've been told for a long time that it is impossible. Of course, it is expensive, but it so happened that some people are interested in it and they agreed to pay for this glass vessel.
It will be made of plexiglass and be soldered in three parts. There is also a light and a hole to change the water. But the fact is that we can see the boat. People will be able to enjoy it because it is a truly unique object! A half-glass room is also being completed so that you can see the boat from the street," said Anna Vzhesinska.
And here a logical question arises. Why should a business invest in what it will not earn from?
How does it work?
A deposit not opened in a bank
The Perha Mining Company (part of the BGV Group Management), which has special permits for ore mining on the territory of the Olevsk united territorial community, has agreed to pay for the creation of a huge "aquarium" for the Olevsk boat. And this is not the company's first collaboration with the community.
"Business needs social partnership to establish communication and interaction with the community. In our case, the fields we work on are located near villages. Of course, our company pays significant taxes, including to local budgets. But we also want to work effectively with the community for qualitative changes on the ground, we demonstrate our openness to proposals, build mutual trust and show that our work is safe and socially responsible," explains Svitlana Vysotska, Head of Social Development at BGV Group Management.
So, you can compare a social partnership with a bank deposit. The company invests in the community's initiatives and receives "dividends," understanding and dialogue with the community, and, depending on the implemented projects, additional comfort for its employees and partners.
Svitlana Vysotska says that often businesses want to do something useful for the community on their initiative, and sometimes representatives of the city or village go to entrepreneurs with their ideas.
Did they succeed?
How the Olevsk territorial community is gradually changing due to business
In addition to involving businesses in saving the boat, the city council together with Perzha Mining Company, which is part of BGV Group Management, also managed to light the streets of Perha, repair and open the first-aid point, equip a computer class for Perzha school, heating in the school of the village of Yurovo and build a playground on the territory of the kindergarten.
"Being open, transparent, and understandable to business, the government can count on its support. When a private investor enters government offices, and decides on the viability of its business honestly and openly, without bribes and pressure, it agrees to cooperate with the community through social programs. Social projects are not only the reputation of business, it is also the reputation of local government, its effectiveness because you want to invest and live where you are comfortable.
Our first completed social agreement was street lighting in the village of Perha. There are not enough budget expenditures for all villages, but we have to ensure the comfort of the life of the community's residents. For us, the solution was cooperation with the investor, the conclusion of social agreements. How exactly do we choose projects? Every time we come out of the urgent need to repair, buy, or restore something. We analyze and make decisions on implementing a project, either at the expense of the budget or with the support of investors and private investment under the social agreement," said Serhii Lysytskyi, Olevsk Mayor.
Meanwhile, Svitlana Vysotska notes that, unfortunately, sometimes people perceive the willingness of businesses to help and meet the needs of communities as an attempt at bribery. When asked how to avoid such a false negative context, Ms. Svitlana answered:
"If we solve the problems of the population clearly and transparently, distrust is leveled. Our company has come this way. Today we have established fruitful cooperation with the community without provocations and accusations. Our business is also a part of it."
More useful solutions!
How to find a social partner if you have a cool idea
Anna Vzhesinska, one of those who takes care of the Olevsk boat, says the team hopes to get a glass jar by the end of the year and pick up a valuable find from an old abandoned farm where the boat is now stored.
Also, the Olevsk area is waiting for the opinion of German experts, who must determine the exact age of the boat. Currently, archaeologists speculate that it may be three hundred to a thousand years old and it had got to the land where it was found collecting tribute or as a merchant ship because Ukrainian boats (dovbankas) were made mostly of oak, not pine, and were up to four meters long.
So how do you create your success story based on a boat story? How to come to social partnership?
- Fully work out the theoretical part of the idea you want to implement and present it as a full-fledged project.
- Find information on your local council's website or local media about what social agreements your community already has and with which companies.
- Find business representatives who will be interested in your idea.
- Present the idea to them, including the benefits that the community and the business will receive from its implementation.
And then the most interesting thing will begin, fruitful cooperation.