For the past 16 years, NENO has given out the Annual Civil Society Awards in six categories. The awards are given to people, organizations and initiative that substantially change the landscape of civic action in Estonia. This year, only five awards were given (the award for Best Public Representative was left without nominees).
Perhaps the most high-profile recipient this year was Theatre No99s politico-satirical theatre piece “Unified Estonia”, named Accomplishment of the Year. The project, which held the attention of both quality and tabloid news media through several months in the Spring of 2010, culminated in a fictional party congress in May 2010, a performance that harked back to the pompous parades of the Third Reich and Stalinist Russia as well as the party congresses of major Estonian players. DVD records (with English subtitles) of the event can still be bought online. Its message, that people are, in the end, free to decide and shape society for themselves instead of letting politicians purportedly working for the best interests of the people do it for them, speaks to the core purpose of civil society.
The Estonian Food Bank, which delivers leftover food from restaurants and stores to families in need, was named Civil Initiative of the Year. The Food Bank is also known for their coin-collection program, which encouraged Estonians to donate their leftover kroon-coins to the Food Bank, instead of converting them to Euros or simply throwing them away. The initiative raised 67192 euros, over a million kroons.
Liia Hänni, executive director of the e-Governance Academy was named Person of the Year. Hänni has raised awareness of e-governance through initiatives such as Good e-Election Practice, e-Politician of the Year, but has also worked on deepening e-democracy on the local government level.
The Business of the Year award went to EMT, the largest cell phone operator in Estonia, for active participation in last year’s Let’s Do It program and in various initiative that were spun of that event. Let’s Do It is a yearly civic action campaign that has been copied in several countries across the world. NENO notes that EMT’s participation is notable because it is not only a sign of the company’s sense of social responsibility, but also of real commitment, as one of the company’s leaders, Valdo Kalm, is heavily involved in the day-to-day affairs of the voluntary initiative.
Finally, the Pioneer of the Year award was given to Garage48, a non-profit organization that helps start-ups in Estonia, Europe and Africa. The goal of the organization is to develop an idea to a working prototype within 48 hours.