Democracy and participation, Community development

Connecting the seemingly unconnectable

Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there's a field, I'll meet you there.

Creators

Who is behind this?

Miroslava Vitásková

http://www.agorace.cz

Czech Republic

Idea

Idea pitch

Hard to reach, not involved and often radicalised youngsters from disadvantaged regions will be engaged in attractive games and informal discussions where they will challenge their own opinions and prejudices they might have against different minorities and societal groups, articulate them and investigate where they come from. Through various activities they will get in touch with those they oppose/dislike. The impact will be emphasized by establishing cooperation with different interest groups

Where will your project idea take place?

Czech Republic, excluded border regions (Karlovarský and Ústecký kraj (former Sudetenland)

What is the local challenge?

Due to mainly historical reasons, in these regions more than in others, people fall for populistic ideas, false promises and easy solutions. People feel excluded and left out and they tend to think that as individuals, they cannot influence anything, that nobody listens to them. This leaves a lot of space for misunderstandings and growing of hatred towards others. That manifests in increased support of radical and undemocratic parties. Even statistically these are the poorest regions with highest unemployment rate and highest and alarming percentage of distrains compared to the rest of the country. We perceive this as problematic and we want to bring open democratic dialogue to students of vocational and high schools and together investigate and reflect on their ideas of democratic society

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

Democracy is endangered as people are more and more exposed to manipulation, populism and the most vulnerable often have no means how to resist it. The opposite is to have competencies to create your own opinion and respect for other people who might think/do/be the opposite. Through our programme the students will engage in different activities with each other and with different societal groups. They will have the opportunity to realize that other people might have different opinions and space for mutual discussion and interaction will be created. This might as well be their first opportunity to meet with the feared others about which they already have created preconceptions or were taught by their immediate environment how to think about these groups.

Who are you doing it for?

The targeted regions themselves are already excluded, citizens are vulnerable towards populistic ideas which make them believe that there is an outer enemy which can be blamed for everything. In the elections 2017 extremist and undemocratic parties scored the best there (15 – 20 %). The main target group are the students of vocational schools and high schools. Through the first activity the students will identify groups they perceive as problematic (e.g. least popular neighbour etc.). Then they will engage with selected representatives from these groups in the second activity. This way opinions of different groups will be considered and discussed. The range and selection of engaged local groups will vary based on the first discussion (migrants, homosexuals, etc.)

How do you plan to get there?

A) Students engage in a game challenging prejudices they might have and discuss them which their class mates,facilitators to see what they think and why. It will be wrapped up by broader discussion (focus group) about (for them) most pressing soc. issues (enhanced by digital tools: Poll Everywhere). B) Based on the outcomes, representatives from the groups identified as problematic will be invited and will engage with the class in a game base on prisoner dilemma (emphasises the importance of cooperation) and they will make a direct experience together with the feared others, followed by discussion. C) Video of oposite opinions will be put together, similar to this project: shorturl.at/cknK6 . When implemented, it will be a completely unique and new method in Czech environment.

What are the expected results?

Local communities will be empowered by the newly created connections from across different societal groups which might have never met otherwise. The students will develop their democratic view of the society, important democratic values such as tolerance, respect, equality etc. They will start to be more involved in civic society and cooperate with other societal groups. The students will come the realization that things/people can be in reality different than they might seem, different to what they were told and that the value of ones’ own opinion is immense. Also their understanding of the importance of cooperation will be strengthened.

How does your initiative contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe?

Over the past few years Europe has witnessed sweeping raise of populism and extremist parties which in many cases became so strong that their presence in governments became inevitable. When looking at this trend from micro perspective, the voters are often individuals who might feel lost, vulnerable and powerless in nowadays world rather than extremists and hateful people in the true sense of the word. We are convinced that to change the bigger picture, we need to tackle the problems from the basic levels of our societies and engage young people who have great potential to develop our democratic society in discussions, educate them and show them the bigger picture rather than let them keep playing the us vs them game.

What is your story?

Our mission to promote the democratisation process in our society and fostering democracy. Our main activities cover stimulating the interest of the public in the issues of the community, looking for consensus between stakeholders in the community, opening up space for dem. discussion and improving the standard of public discussion, contributing to improving the political culture, promoting the development of local democracy in the Czech Republic and many others. The selected regions have proven to be a tipping point where it is decided whether extremist parties will be present in our parliament or not. We feel that the way forward is not to convince the already convinced and further educate the already educated. This is why we chose to put our focus here as difficult as it might be.

€ 36000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

€ 37000,-

Total budget

Major expenses

15 schools will be included. 2 events will take place at each school, at least 30 representatives of other groups will be invited.

5600 Office expenses
3900 Travel, accommodation costs, per diems
2500 Creation of videos and PR
17000 Personnel costs
8000 Costs of implementation at the sites (lecturers, other guests)

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

Any kind of feedback in form of advice or even encouragement is important and valuable for us. Please do let us know your thoughts!

Team

Agora CE

Idea created on May 21, 2020

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