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Civic Laboratory Sozopol | Civic Europe
Community development, Youth participation and empowerment

Civic Laboratory Sozopol

Social laboratory for interdisciplinary dialogue, co-designing and prototyping of grassroots initiatives and a shared vision for the development of Sozopol.


Who is behind this?

Anna Dimitrova

Chaordica Association


Who is joining forces?

Civic Council Sozopol


This is a joint idea with the Civic Council Sozopol, with the formal support from the Municipality of Sozopol, The Yacht Club, Homeless Paws NGO, and the local church.


Idea pitch

How can we build a participatory process for cross-sectoral collaboration and civic engagement and co-create a Vision for Sozopol? We explore this question in practice - a space for dialogue, building trust, and co-creation of a shared Vision for Sozopol-
with the belief that local communities have potential to drive social change. There is a growing number of grassroots initiatives in the town and a need for more synergies and connections between themselves and with the Municipal authorities.

Where will your project idea take place?

Sozopol, Burgas Province, Bulgaria

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

Our project aims to tackle two main challenges. The first is the lack of a shared co-created vision for the development of Sozopol, that reflects the multitudes of interests and ideas of its diverse citizens and citizens groups. The second is the lack of a structured, yet adaptable process that can enable the effective collaboration of different stakeholders i.e. introduction of participatory methods, practical approaches for engaging various stakeholders, design of participatory processes and ability to work in a complex environment. This will lay the foundations for building a sustainable community of active people and organizations that work for a better quality of life in Sozopol.

Who are you doing it for?

We aim to engage diverse groups of people active in the municipality in different ways.
1. The Civic Council
The members of the Civic Council are part of the core team which co-designs and co-leads all activities. At the same time, they and the organisations they represent are a key target group for the capacity-building activities on working with participatory methods.
2. In order to build a Vision for the development of the city, we will invite as participants in different formats the following groups:
- Representatives of local administration, educational, health, cultural institutions
- Representatives of local businesses
- Representatives of the non-governmental sector
- Citizens, including young people
- The artistic/cultural community

How do you plan to get there?

We are planning the following steps in the project: Inquiry and getting to know the context:includes individual dialogue interviews, informal meetings and mapping of the local ecosystem; Forming a core team of the project including the project team and active local actors identified during the first steps; Three-day participatory capacity building training with focus on engaging stakeholders and participatory processes;
Co-design of a series of meetings and events to: Form thematic working groups on challenges identified during the inquiry phase;Generate ideas for specific prototypes of small community-led activities on the selected challenges;Co-create ideas and steps for the development a strategic vision for the development of Sozopol;Harvest the results of the process and co-design steps for implementation of the strategic vision and for sustainability of the initiative in the long term. Closing community event co-organised with project participants to present the Vision, share results and learnings,discuss further steps for community engagement in Sozopol. The selected approach for the project is Social Lab, characterised by the involvement of various stakeholders in an experimental process of finding systemic solutions to the root causes of identified issues. The methodology that we will apply throughout the process is based on participatory leadership (Art of Hosting).

What are the expected results?

At the end of the project we intend to achieve the following outcomes:
Strengthen the civic cohesion in Sozopol and move from competition to collaboration;
Co-create a strategic Vision for Sozopol;
Increase the capacity of the members of the Civic Council and other active actors to design and be “hosts” of participatory process that engage various stakeholders;
Co-create and prototype a model of work for the Civic Council of Sozopol;
Build bridges between individuals and groups, create thematic working groups with representatives from across sectors and disciplines and create synergies between active groups and institutions;
Prototype and seed fund community-led initiatives that might turn into long-term activities as part of the Vision for Sozopol.

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

The project builds on the experience and efforts of the Civic Council and will deepen its impact via:
Capacity building for the Civic Council to be a designer and host of participatory processes and to engage citizens in a better manner;
Involving key active citizens in the core team who will co-design and lead the initiative. This will increase their ability to engage stakeholders via practice;
Creating a highly participatory process for the co-creation of the Vision for Sozopol that will allow citizens to experience real collaboration and co-creation;
Creating a platform for community-led grassroots initiatives for improving the quality of life that will continue after the end of the project.

Why is this idea important to you?

The team behind the project has been working together in different constellations since 2010- in the student-led organisation AIESEC and in organising the first Art of Hosting trainings in Bulgaria in 2013. The team members have diverse and complementing experience and skills. Galya Gogova is a market research specialist with special interest in the non-governmental sector. As a person who grew up in Sozopol she is the linking part between the team and the local community in the town. Anna Dimitrova and Anton Valkov specialise in designing participatory processes and have vast experience with social entrepreneurship, innovation and Social Labs. They both love working with local communities and they both have a personal connection with Sozopol as a favourite vacation spot since childhood.

€ 35000,-

Total budget

€ 35000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Seed fund for micro civic initiatives - 5000 EUR
Project team fees - 14 000 EUR
Travel and accommodation - 1500 EUR
Administrative costs - 2000 EUR
Fees for thematic experts for Vision of Sozopol - 5000 EUR
Costs for organizing events: rental of halls, equipment, catering, etc. - 5500 EUR
Website, online interaction with citizens - 2000 EUR


Anna Dimitrova



Idea created on April 25, 2021

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