A decade after the collapse of communism, Romania lagged behind many of its regional neighbors in the development of new, modern business methods and a strong, active civil society. ISC's work there began in 2001, with the aim of demonstrating ways for citizens and their local governments to become more self-reliant in meeting community needs.

We worked in the Huedin region in Transylvania in twelve small communities and the town of Huedin, encouraging all sectors of—local government, business, and NGOs—to work together actively engage citizens on local development projects. ISC's Rural Development Program worked with the Ecological Club of Transylvania to involve locals in advancing rural ecotourism in the area. Its success not only boosted the area's economy but built confidence in residents who saw that citizen involvement can lead to results.

Tangible Results

  • Together with residents, we developed a rural tourism industry that protects natural resources. We built information facilities and tourism shelters and distributed promotional materials and maps and we brought Romanian delegates to Vermont to see practical examples of environmentally friendly rural tourism.
  • We trained 100 community members, including 20 local council members, in participatory methods of decision making, which improved their ability to successfully address community issues.
  • We prepared a community-action guide that outlines a participatory approach to addressing economic, environmental, social, and local governance needs.
  • The results of our program were widely disseminated at conferences and through networks, promoting grassroots, citizen-led development throughout the country.