The 7th edition of Personal Democracy Forum Central and Eastern Europe will take place on April 4-5, 2019 in the European Solidarity Centre in Gdańsk. The third edition of Festival of Civic Tech for Democracy will follow on April 6, 2019.

Personal Democracy Forum CEE

PDF CEE 2019 will be a three-day adventure including sparkling keynote presentations, hands-on-work workshop sessions, time for networking and fun side events. The annual conference offers space for experience exchange for people working for civic participation and transparency in public life with the help of new technologies in Central and Eastern Europe and beyond. Launched in Poland in 2013, it is a regional branch of New York City PDF organized since 2004 by Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry of Personal Democracy Media, the founders of Civic Hall.

The seventh edition of the conference will be organised under the overarching theme:


We keep worrying about mistrust and we tend to blame it for increasing populism, spreading fake news and communities breaking apart. This is only part of the truth. Regardless of its object, trust is always there. The question is in what and In Whom We Trust.

We connect with the outside world in several ways: while we voluntarily affiliate with friends and communities, the relations with governments are imposed on us – whether we want it or not. We live in the illusion of having a choice about what news and information we are fed with. Our echo chambers often situate us in semi-voluntary networks.

Conscious trust in someone or something should be built across all networks of dependencies we belong to. This is never an easy process. The Broken Feedback Circle makes us know less about each other’s needs, opinions and experiences. We live in the era of mass products, fast services, big numbers and quick results. Somewhere on the way, we lose good will to acknowledge the authentic individual and collective experience. Eventually, we are left with Citizen Fake-Xperience.

Increasing trust is a matter of good collaboration between communities, society, governments and individuals. But Good Collaboration Hurts. We should provide solutions rather than deliver products. Governments and media should not feel comfortable with simply bringing in “cool” tools and attractive clickbaits. “They” and “we” should work together on developing processes, defining impactful problems and discovering effective results.

At this year’s PDF CEE we will explore the ways we can glue back broken circles of trust, build solid collaborations and change authentic individual and collective experience into meaningful solutions.

Festival of Civic Tech for Democracy

This year’s Festival will present interesting reflections, projects and tools in the field of Civic Technology (Civic Tech) and Government Technology (Gov Tech). We will show initiatives that have been successful as well as those that have failed. As the civic tech community, we want to learn from each other and draw meaningful conclusions – also on the grounds of our failures.

In 2019 edition, we are particularly interested in trust in the public sphere. Broken Feedback Circle is understood as an incomplete, prematurely interrupted dialogue. Explicit limitation of citizens’ participation in decision-making and seeming impact of consultations on already taken decisions triggers a false sense of having influence on the public affairs – Citizen Fake-Xperience. At the Festival, we will creatively translate our victories and failures into systemic strengthening of cooperation processes between civic tech communities and public authorities. Good Collaboration Hurts but only through profound reflection, openness and trust in our needs we will provide effective solutions based on tools embedded in the local context.

Environmentally Conscious Event

Concerned with growing urgency of tackling the climate change on a global scale, we decided to approach organization of PDF CEE 2019 in the environmentally conscious way. Following the recommendations from the IPCC “Global Warming of 1.5 °C” report (October 2018), and zero waste philosophy, during the conference you will come across:

Vegetarian and vegan lunch options. Meat production is responsible for significant amount of global carbon emission. PDF CEE provides only lunches and coffee breaks, so if you strongly prefer to eat meat you can choose breakfast and dinner at your own. And for everyone this is an opportunity and invitation to test eating in a more environment-friendly, greener and very tasty way.

No single-use plastic (bottles, cups, cutlery). Solid meals served in solid pottery.

Water drinkable from the tap – in entire Gdańsk water is certified and drinkable from the tap. We invite you to check it out.

Minimal printing, minimal purchasing of new products. We are moving to digital almost entirely and we introduce Eventory – a mobile conference app that will allow you to have all the necessary information at the fingertips. All participants who registered for the conference will receive an email with the link to download the Eventory app. Also, we will reduce printing to the absolute necessities (i.e. 1-page IDs).

Recycling. We recycled the banner decorating the stage at the previous edition – watch out for that! Limited gadgets will be available to most active participants!


In order to be more inclusive for deaf participants, we introduced translation to the Polish Sign Language during all plenary sessions as well as three workshop sessions in the Auditorium:

    • “Accessibility of public services for the native Deaf: Is technology bringing effective solutions?” – a panel dedicated to discuss Civic Tech challenges faced by deaf community in Poland followed by the practical workshop conducted by The Academy of the Young Deaf (in Polish)
    • “Media Under Attack” – a panel discussion on the situation of the independent media in the times of political and social turmoil (in English)
  • “And What Did You Do Today to Break Your Information Bubble?” – a panel on how to to avoid polarization of the dispute and radical social divides by getting out of information bubbles (in Polish)

These sessions will also be streamed and interpreted – everyone is invited to participate or watch online!





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