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Building Bridges for Cohesive & Active Communities | Civic Europe
Community development, civic engagement and participation

Building Bridges for Cohesive & Active Communities

Fostering community engagement and co-creation of an active civil society between the diverse local greek and non-greek residents of a rural Cretan municipality.


Who is behind this?

Who is joining forces?

Conscious Crete


Cultural & Educational Association of Tsivara;



Idea pitch

With 12,800 inhabitants, 40% non-greek immigrants, the community has a diversity of life experiences, economic status, cultures and languages. With limited opportunities for effective engagement at civic level, it lacks cohesion between communities and democratic representation.
We will support co-production between residents of activities promoting cultural understanding and tolerance, and develop an effective community engagement forum promoting civic decision making and community cohesion.

Where will your project idea take place?

Municipality of Apokoronas, regional unit of Chania in Crete island, Greece

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

We aim to tackle the fear,stereotypes,disconnection&cultural misunderstandings that exist between different sections of the community that hinder the integration of immigrants into the existing rural community,create increasing economic disparities&prevent access to cross cultural opportunities that would enhance the lived experience&environment of the locality.The existing separation of communities&lack of opportunities or willingness for cultural interchange prevents a coordinated&cooperative approach to civic engagement,the development of a thriving interdependent civic society&an inability for policymakers&decision makers to have active&meaningful dialogue with the wider community on topics of community wide interest e.g.environment,cultural services,health&social care.

Who are you doing it for?

We’ll target individual communities: elderly Greek native born to the region,working age adults born locally or relocated from elsewhere in Greece who often work in low paid employment in agriculture or tourism;immigrant populations who have retired to the area & who own their own homes,75% being British citizens,but also German,French & Chinese communities;& a sizeable & increasing community of Greek & non-Greek digital workers who live in the area but whose employment is elsewhere.Whilst each community has its own experiences & no individual community has unique or homogeneous needs within it,anecdotal evidence indicates some shared challenges between communities such as loneliness & isolation of older people,lack of access to cultural & employment opportunities or affordable housing.

How do you plan to get there?

Identify&interview separate key groups, giving voice to grievances&areas of concern without risk of offence between groups.
Hold nonviolent communication circles for each target group to help connect with their unmet needs & identify desired outcomes of community integration.
Help plan,organise & co-produce with community groups inclusive community building activities/events,to run throughout the year,in thematic fields of interest e.g. introducing their culture,environmental issues, cooking/eating together, hiking or learning history of the region,cleaning the coastline from garbage etc., aiming to address the identified needs & outcomes.
Select an equal number from individual groups to create a mixed community volunteer led Community & Civic Engagement group who will be provided with capacity building,training & support to play an on-going liaison role between community groups,associations & civil leaders & empowered through agreed democratic procedures with the local municipality to disseminate information between the community & local leaders/decision makers.
Work collaboratively with the group & communities they represent to identify further opportunities for cultural & community exchange e.g. community festival/exhibition, volunteer time bank, community tool library, devise and promote Welcoming Tooolkit etc.
Open source reporting to share learning with others.

What are the expected results?

The local community will report:
A better shared understanding of and willingness to actively engage with other community groups within the local area.
Improved opportunities for cross-cultural exchange and engagement
Increased awareness of arts and cultural events
More active communities and improved community cohesion
Increased knowledge of democratic processes and opportunities for effective civic engagement
Feeling more empowered to influence local decision making through united voices and collaboration with other community stakeholders
Establishment of a whole community representative Community and Civic Engagement Group with agreed procedures for promoting and supporting effective civic consultation with decision makers.

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

The project will identify the existing barriers to active citizenship that exist in specific communities e.g.lack of understanding of bureaucracy,institutions,systems&procedures, economic deprivation,cultural knowledge,lack of trust or feelings of safety etc.Having identified the barriers,it will in collaboration with community groups&key stakeholders,develop a delivery plan of action orientated activities,information sharing&support through participatory community events that address areas of concern&remove perceived barriers to active social&political engagement or participation.It will also work directly with political&civil leaders to develop procedures for promoting civic exchange of ideas&developing communication channels to promote citizenship accountability&civic responsibility.

Why is this idea important to you?

We are locals from the area united by a desire to create a more collaborative active community&promote civic engagement to improve local decision making.
Dimitris Kotzabasakis: a leading representative of the voluntary sector&Secretary of lead organisation.
Stella Aggelaki: experienced facilitator with community groups&cooperatives on issues regarding social solidarity,economic development,non-violent&inclusive communication&promotion of Sociocracy principles.
Stella Koukougianni: experienced&qualified in Non-Violent Communication&passionate about facilitating events that cultivate skills to promote meaningful communication&deep human connection.
Rob Hamilton: experienced community sector executive, Body Psychotherapist&co-founder of Conscious Crete community group.

€ 40000,-

Total budget

€ 35000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Personnel 15.000 €
Travel 1.000 €
Project management, administration and logistics 6.000 €
Events/workshops/seminars 9.000 €
Publications 500 €
Video 3.000 €
Brochure 500 €

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We welcome all feedback on our idea, including the risks others may anticipate, potential mitigating factors we can employ or recommended steps to help us achieve our goals.



Idea created on April 25, 2021

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