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Network General Assembly 2023 1.5.23

Presidential speech from the springboard: This is how unique the AGM in Lucerne was

Despite the empty pool, no networker was left high and dry at the evening event. (Picture: Janmaat Photography)

The Executive Board on the theatre stage, the dinner in the pool: the organisers in Central Switzerland showed the courage to be creative. Regional Director Stephan Bitzi looks back on a successful AGM in Lucerne.

A bit of “camp fever” had spread through the Central Switzerland OC about two weeks before the AGM, admits regional leader Stephan Bitzi. “We were all pretty happy when it finally started after a year of preparation. But on the days of the AGM itself, 21 and 22 April, everyone was highly motivated. In general, Stephan is enthusiastic about the commitment of his regional group: “I was able to start one or two calls and I had already found the help I needed – that is really great! So a big thank you to all the helpers, donors and especially to the OC!”

Clear the stage for the Board of Directors

The organisers of the AGM had a particularly good feeling for the choice of venues. For the statutory part of the AGM, they chose the Lucerne Theatre, opened in 1839, which will soon be demolished and rebuilt. Instead of a guest speech, there was a choreography by Zhiyelun Qi, danced by Grazia Scarpato. The Board of Directors took a seat on the stage, of course.

The votes and elections went off without a hitch: the new mission statement, the organisational documents and the amendment of the statutes were passed almost unanimously. Of course, the Board was pleased, as they had expected one or two objections at the AGM, as Board member Thomas Wehry says. However, this vote without discussion showed that the process had worked. “With this, Lucerne was a nice conclusion to what we had started at the retreat in Andermatt.” The election of Oliver Fuchs and Dirk Langer to the Executive Board also followed the panel’s recommendation.

For the evening event we went to the Neubad, the former municipal indoor swimming pool – and everything there was a little different than usual. Dinner was served in the drained pool, Frank Preuss gave his table speech on the three-metre board. “I don’t think our president has ever had a stage like this before,” says Stephan Bitzi with a laugh. “Everyone was looking up at him, it was very symbolic.”

A big “Wow” from the President

It was also Frank who won the auction of an original photographic work by Networker Frank Lüdi for the benefit of the AGM 2023. He really liked the work, which is the second part of a triptych. “Besides, I know the artist and I already know exactly where the picture will go,” Frank explains his highest bid. Where this place is, however, he does not want to reveal…

For him, the AGM 2023 was also something of a completed triptych, because it was his third time with Central Switzerland as host: the first time, Frank was regional director of network Central Switzerland, the second time on the board and now president. And this third edition was really great and “simply different” in the truest sense of the word. The statuary part in the theatre without political speeches was all about culture – and that is, after all, an important part of network. 

The superbly organised evening event in the event venue took place in a pleasantly relaxed atmosphere and was nevertheless of a high culinary standard. “Simply wow,” says the network President. “In 2007, the organisers from Central Switzerland set a new standard with the AGM at the luxury Hotel Schweizerhof – and I think they will leave their mark again this year.

A lot of interaction

The menu included meat birds and Nidwaldner Geschnetzeltes. Wine bottles ensured that the 180 or so networkers were not left high and dry despite the empty pool. The OC had deliberately used the “Tavolata” gastronomic concept to encourage interaction by passing the food around.

This worked well, says Stephan: there was a lot of movement, people changed tables and met in small groups in the middle on the “pool stairs”. This relaxed atmosphere was probably not least a result of the casual dress code. Many networkers had thanked the OC personally for not having to squeeze into a suit. The organisers themselves appeared uniformly in colourful and adventurously patterned shirts – and this uniform also provided controversial topics of conversation for the small talk at the tables.

Party until the morning hours

A real marquee atmosphere arose when the president of the day and presenter Stefan Schärli sang “Es Burebüebli” and everyone swayed along “ufe, abe, links und rechts”. Even the Networkers from the French-speaking part of Switzerland were somewhat taken aback by this folk dance from the other side of the Röstigraben.

The nightcap was at the pool bar. About two dozen Networkers extended the evening down to the club in the former engine room, where a DJ was playing. We know from an anonymous source that there was dancing and partying until about 3am.

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