Because polarization has grown over recent years around Europe and the world, support for civil society has become more crucial. Organizations, initiatives and projects that showcase the possibilities for living in diversity and remaining open and tolerant while holding profound disagreements operate most effectively on local level, filling the specific needs of their local community.
Co-shaping a colorful, vibrant community. (Photo by Delfo Esposito)
Their work can also be regarded as “a living practice of democracy”, democracy at its core: actively co-shaping a colorful, vibrant community life that builds bridges, strengthens civic cohesion and creates hope for a better future.
This is where the Civic Europe Idea Challenge starts: We are looking for 15 lighthouse ideas of civic education and active citizenship that function as bright horizons and inspiration for bringing people together in times of segregation and animosity.
Open and functioning civic spaces and active citizens at all levels of society are the strongholds for democracy in Europe in times of polarization and deep political divisions. Only a vibrant and diverse civil society lives up to the potential that the core idea of democracy holds: co-creating our own future and having agency to influence our collective lives.
We support initiatives and projects that strengthen civic cohesion and active citizenship on the local level in Central, Southeastern and Southern Europe: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.
We want to reach beyond the “usual suspects” of our networks, deep into the work of locally rooted civil society organizations and civic grass-root initiatives in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe. Civic Europe especially targets initiatives and organizations outside of the big urban centers, active in and around so-called civic deserts – places with little or no opportunities for civic engagement and participation and a deficient civic infrastructure - few or no civil society organizations, no access to decision and policy making, community centers, libraries, museums, etc..