Between investment-oriented tourism and state capture at the local level, there is very little room for public debate on the island of Vis, Croatia, and motivation for civic engagement is low. By bringing together locals and visitors, insiders and outsiders, and having them cooperate with sustainability-oriented practices in a hands-on approach, we aim to open discussion, reverse the degradation of the island’s quality of life, co-create change and steer towards another, better future.
The island of Vis, Split County, southern Croatia.
The focus of the project is the current developmental trajectory of the island of Vis which aims to transform this agriculture- and fishery-based island with strong cultural heritage into an artificial and investment-oriented tourist site lacking charm. The two cities on the island, Vis and Komiža, are both exposed to aggressive tourism, unemployment, drug abuse and depopulation. Active civic engagement is at an extremely low level, and is reserved for a select few. This discourages citizens from participating in public debates and discussing alternative pathways for the island’s development. Coupled with the general lack of cultural events and youth public spaces, the quality of life is degrading, and hope for the future fading.
All partners will be engaged in activities creating space for debate around the future of the island. Our activities will aim to build a counterpoint opposing the detrimental impacts of the island’s current trajectory. Setting out from their daily practices in sustainable building, agriculture and traditional practices of natural resources management that follow ecologically sustainable and socially fair development, local partners will engage in interaction with both residents and visitors. Due to their increased visibility and popularity, these practices will become inevitable factors in any future discussion about the island's development, opposing the current monocultural approach focused on investments and elite tourism.
We turn to both locals and visitors as main target groups; primarily the island’s youth (18-35), the unemployed, former drug addicts, long time visitors, friends of the island and everyone excluded from the decision-making process. Although present mainly during the tourist season, visitors also play an important role in the island’s life. Our aim is to reverse their mode of involvement in local community, turning it from a passive, consumer-oriented tourist approach to one more active and organic. Exploring the interplay – but also the antagonism – of visitors and local community can play a decisive role in opening up the debate on shaping the island’s future, which is not happening due to the selective approach of local elites and privatisation of their public functions.
The project assumes that locals and visitors can co-create conditions for a sustainable future of the island. The activities will take place on three locations (Stonefish farm, Biševo, agricultural land around Komiža and Porat) that operate autonomously, yet with the shared goal of ensuring the island’s sustainability. Through interactive workshops combining theoretical and practical work, locals, visitors and volunteers will learn to cooperate, utilize their outsider and insider perspectives and negotiate results of their activities.
IPE will bring these results and experiences to the work of the Green Academy and to public institutions, facilitate cooperation, provide advice on creating impact, and create a doughnut model for Vis as a framework for discussions of its development.
We can track it at three levels:
Workshop locations – through direct cooperation, measurable and concrete differences that contribute to the sites’ ecological sustainability (soil, water, food, construction), quality of life and longevity will be made
Participation – participants will be able to integrate their vision, leave something behind and find solutions through cooperation. They will be a constituent part of the community that co-creates a sustainable ecosystem
Island – there will be at least 3 developed experiments where new living systems are co-created through the interaction of locals and visitors. The process will have a transformative impact, as the agency of collaboration will increase the organisations’ and participants’ relevance when decisions about the island are made
Vis is just a small island in the Adriatic, similar to many other local communities. As such, it reflects different problematic issues related to democracy and participation inherent to smaller cities and municipalities. Non-existent public discussions, members of society excluded from-decision making, state capture, technocratic and investment-oriented city administration, corruption; these are all manifestations of democratic malfunctioning that are also relevant for Vis.
With our interventions we aim to create another vision of society and of future for the island that will not be subordinated to family relations, privileged groups or lucrative investments. Citizens both living on the island and in love with it will be the change they want and become factors in public debate.
For all of us, in our different roles, the future of Vis is what matters. We are concerned, as people who walk down the island’s streets and paths daily, or regular visitors who want to keep the magic of the island alive. Some of us have been visiting the island to camp or explore, some to discuss the future of the island with renowned experts and intellectuals, some have been involved in practical work, with both hands deep in the soil. We all did it in our clusters, before realising we need to listen to each other and join forces to paint the picture of another future for the island, another tomorrow. We walked down different paths, but we set out with the same values. We are worried about the future and feel responsible to act. This concern is in the centre of our collective efforts.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
PERSONNEL COSTS 20000 EUR
OFFICE COSTS 2000 EUR
TRAVEL AND ACCOMODATION COSTS 19500 EUR
PUBLIC RELATIONS 7000 EUR
We would like to receive information related to methodology, to expectations from this project or potential improvements and complementarities. The replicability aspect is also important to us.