Croatian Education and Development Network for the Evolution of Communication - HERMES
Civic RESPONSE-ability will bring together 60 youths from four 'civic desert' municipalities in Croatia, in a participatory, innovative, experiential-learning-based civic engagement project in which young people will embrace their personal responsibility (RESPONSE-ability!) to identify social challenges in their communities, create short action-research videos analyzing and spotlighting these local problems, and advocate for change through multi-stakeholder involvement. Change Starts With Us!
Region: Slavonia, 4 municipalities: Daruvar, Slatina, Đakovo & Vukovar
Slavonia is the Croatian region most affected by emigration and brain drain. Many young people feel that there is no place for them. Projections estimate that this least developed Croatian region will lose additional 100.000 people by 2030. Classmates are leaving, school classes are being reduced, some smaller area schools are closing down. Daruvar, Slatina, Đakovo and Vukovar are all (small) Slavonian towns. Youth have few extracurricular options, and close to no civic engagement opportunities. Furthermore, there are (interethnic) polarization issues (most notably in Slatina and Vukovar), and youth 'inherit' these prejudices and conflicting behavior models. Political divisions, poverty, lack of perspective and emigration are exacerbating these tensions.
Civic RESPONSE-ability project challenges the notion that young people have no voice and place in community life. We don't want youth to be resigned to the status quo, or leaving the country. For a community to thrive it needs constructively engaged citizens, and this project would guide youth through identifying, analyzing local challenges and problems, conducting action research and interviews in the community (and making a short video about it in the process), and engaging across polarized sides to arrive at solutions and changes that benefit everyone in the community. This project facilitates the process whereby young people will recognize their RESPONSE-ability to advocate for and become agents of change in their local community.
In each town, we will bring together a core group of 15 students, from multiple schools. (CfP will be circulated with help of teachers from our network, who will also assist in selecting diverse group of youth.) Students from gymnasiums, economic, technical and vocational schools will be involved, to ensure diversity and to foster cooperation among youth from different backgrounds. When identifying the local problems, analyzing them and conducting action research and making short films, youth will reach out to key stakeholders in the city, and interview the Mayor, municipal councillors, school principal, relevant NGO representatives, and people on the streets - to ensure a wide range of opinions are collected on the issue. In each town, 3 short films/RESPONSE action plans will be produced.
We do not presume to know all the problems and challenges citizens are facing in 4 key municipalities, nor do we have an easy solution for fixing them. What we do have is a belief in the peoples ability to help themselves through constructive-dialogue based connecting to others in their community.
HERMES will, in cooperation with schools and teachers, launch a Call for Participants; select youth according to their motivation, aiming for diverse groups in each municipality; engage with youth online in planning the 5-day RESPONSE-training events; carry out the RESPONSE-training events, incl. creation of short films and action plans; mentor the implementation of action plans; organize final Civic RESPONSE-ability conference with all youth teams presenting the outcomes of their initiatives.
More robust and open communities, an invigorated group of young people aware of the power and potential they have. A landscape where younger generations can envision a different world rather than being resigned to the fact that nothing will ever change and that their future is in Germany or Ireland. Communities that come together to talk issues out and get things done, thanks to youth initiative and invitation. "Civic RESPONSE-ability: Change Starts With Us!" seeks to bring a breath of hope to Slavonia.
In terms of numbers this means that in 4 towns, 4 five-day workshops will take place, involving 60 high school students, who will identify 12 local challenges or issues, making 12 short films & RESPONSE action plans, with 1 conference celebrating, learning from and sharing the results.
"Civic RESPONSE-ability: Change Starts With Us!" is not designed for one place, one community or one problem. It is a way of coming together, talking to each other and coming up with different solutions, listening to, supporting and following youth initiative in the process. It is something that is not only necessary all across Europe but something that is as applicable in a Scottish town, rural Romania as it is on a small Greek Island. Next to reinvigorating communities through youth-led engagement, our initiative also challenges the outdated educational systems that are instructor-centric and that lack practical and experiential learning. Active citizenship cannot be learned, absorbed or understood through passive listening, or by memorizing definitions for exams. It has to be lived.
We are a small group of non-formal education enthusiasts who believe that a small group of people working together can achieve a lot more than one would think. We are a group of people who learned the hard way that if you want to get things done, you cannot spend your days waiting for a hero, or complaining about the status quo - you have to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself. Some of us come from Slavonia - but left abroad and returned years later, only to find our hometowns mere ghosts of their former selves. We are youthworkers who believe in and apply the principles of Positive Youth Development in our work - trusting in youth, and facilitating them in recognizing and building their own personal power to affect change.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Civic RESPONSE-ability: Change Starts With Us final conference is the biggest budgetary line (~12.000 EUR for 75 participants' accommodation, travel costs, food, conference materials, capacity-building trainers). Each RESPONSE-training (4 to take place overall) will cost ~ 6.500 EUR (trainer accommodation, fees, participant meals, filmmaking equipment, etc.). HERMES staff and administration of the project will cost around ~12.000 EUR (30% = own contribution).
No idea is perfect and "Civic RESPONSE-ability: Change Starts With Us!" welcomes everyone's input and advice, as well as critique! :)