Community development, Education and research

Academy of Civic education

Fostering a Civic Education, Active Participation and Respectful Dialogue

Creators

Who is behind this?

Marek Zelenka

Oživení, z.s.

https://www.oziveni.cz/

Czech Republic

Idea

Idea pitch

Citizens from small municipalities feel distrust in politics and lose motivation to be active. Politicians at the local level are not professionals, working usually part-time and fearing own mistakes (struggling with the threat of political, criminal, or civil liability). Therefore they often limit themselves to strategies of constricted decision-making. As lawyers and analysts who have been involved in education for a long time, we plan to help overcome this communication gap with training.

Where will your project idea take place?

Small municipalities and small towns in Czechia

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

We are challenging to change citizens and politicians at the local level from acting as opposing parties to becoming partners. We aim to make this difference by bridging communication offering trainings, sharing expertise and promoting best practice. We have chosen municipalities and small towns throughout the country, rather than a specific region. We decided to do so based on data from our legal counsel team. Most of the suggestions come from citizens of small municipalities. More significant representation of particular regions is not apparent. The specifics of these municipalities are the long-term persistence of politicians in their functions, a very small number of active policymakers, a low budget of the municipality and poor communication between politicians and citizens.

Who are you doing it for?

We target a diverse group of activists and politicians at the municipal level. Targeted citizens have previously tried to change the leadership of the community, but due to lack of information and communication gap they encountered failure. We will also support the motivation of nonactive citizens in favour of taking their part in the community life. Targeted politicians struggle with the threat of political, criminal, or civil liability and face a lack of good practice, so they no longer have the energy and desire to communicate with citizens and try to solve real community problems. We target also politicians lacking skills to communicate with the citizens fearing the community as opposition. We target leading community members, who will become ambassadors.

How do you plan to get there?

The main purpose of the project is the direct work with community members and politicians at the municipal level. The main activities are Roundtables with politicians, community meetings and workshops for ambassadors. Roundtables will focus on topics: municipal property management; rules of procedure; ethically executed mandate; critical areas of municipality administration; public procurements; urban investments. We will also show examples of good practice and connect participants with experienced local government representatives. Community meetings should encourage citizens to gain knowledge about monitoring local corrupt practices, principles of public administration and basics of advocacy work, so that they can use the functional tools themselves, leading effectively to systemic change. Within these meetings, we will recruit 20 activists to become ambassadors of Oživení. Workshops for ambassadors will be extensive and professional training on the aforementioned topics. We will provide contacts and negotiate meetings with the experienced politicians.

Planned activities:
12/2021-01/2022: preparing materials for Roundtables and workshops;
02-09/2022: 8 community meetings and 3 Roundtables with municipal/community representatives
05-11/2022: 3 workshops for the ambassadors
08-11/2022 ca. 5 personal meetings between ambassadors and politicians.

What are the expected results?

At the end of the project, we anticipate breaking down some communication barriers between citizens and politicians. The desired effect is that the municipal representatives and the citizens will consider each other as partners. The politicians will become more open in the decision-making processes and the citizens will no longer feel helpless or neglected. The project also counts on building a network of ambassadors who will be professionally trained and will continue to support citizens in civic activities.

At the end of the project, we anticipate following impact:

Ca. 20 trained politicians and officials

Ca. 20 trained ambassadors of our organisation

Ca. 60 newly active citizens

Ca. 10 personal meetings between ambassadors/community members and politicians

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

We have chosen the civic education and training as the main tool that should help community members get actively involved in political issues. We will provide knowledge primarily about principles of accountability and transparency in public administration, tips for active participation of citizens in the administration of public affairs, monitoring local corruption practices and basics of advocacy work. We will recruit citizens to become our ambassadors and we will provide them with deeper education, contacts, long-term support and tips for negotiations. We will offer support, know-how, examples of good practise and connection to experienced local government representatives.

Why is this idea important to you?

We are a team of lawyers and analysts, aiming that the authorities and institutions in our country work better. We fight corruption in all its forms and at all levels of the public and private sectors. We advise municipalities and individual citizens alike and monitor both local corrupt practices and those affecting the society as a whole. We have gained a lot of experience and gained allies in public administration. Thanks to this, we understand how municipal and city authorities, town halls and large state institutions work, and so we can serve as an imaginary bridge between citizens and the state. We are currently implementing the Pre-election Civic Lobbying Accelerator project together with the Reconstruction of the State as partners, so we plan to follow up on that.

€ 37350,-

Total budget

€ 31747,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Personal costs (12M project management, facilitator, legal advisory, financial management and accounting etc.) 18.000 €
Community meetings (8x Rent, travel costs, handouts, organization) 6.400 €
Roundtables with politicians (3x Rent, travel costs, materials, organization) 2.400€
Workshops for the ambassadors (3x mentoring and support) 3.600 €
PR and communication 2.300 €
Material production 2.700 €
Office expenses (overheads) 1.950 €

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would welcome feedback on our project from the members of the Civic Europe online community, especially from organizations that are working with citizens of municipalities and small towns and civic education in general.

Team

oziveni@oziveni.cz

Idea created on April 26, 2021

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