CROSOL - Croatian Platform for International Citizen Solidarity
Main objective of the project is to provide informal educational workshops to citizens in "civic desert" areas of Croatian Slavonia and Dalmatia regions which have a low level of pluralism and civic participation.
Workshops will be held in three main topics:
- environment and sustainable development
- social inclusion of marginalized groups, i.e. members of LGBTI+ community, ethnic and religious minorities etc.
- active citizen participation and democratic political culture
Activities will take place in Slavonian and Dalmatian towns: Vukovar, Šibenik, Pakrac and Zadar.
Slavonia is a region in the Eastern part of Croatia, while Dalmatia is in the Western part at the Adriatic coast. Both regions were heavily impacted during the 1990s war and have since been falling behind other regions in terms of civic culture, pluralism and openness.
Both these regions and all 4 towns listed have predominantly ethnic-nationalist and religiously conservative political cultures, along with significant proportions of ethnic minority populations (mostly Serbian). Due to the war-time legacy, there has been little opportunity to successfully integrate these minority populations in civic life and political participation in these communities, while there is also a low level of intercultural dialogue among different ethnic groups.
The project consists of holding four 3-day workshops (1 per town) on topics of environment and sustainable development, social inclusion and active citizenship. Communities targeted by the project currently suffer from a low level of democratic political culture and political participation, while being predominantly socially conservative which reflects negatively towards various marginalized groups such as ethnic minorities and LGBTI+ community. The workshops will result in increasing the level of tolerance and inclusion of these groups, as well as strengthen local communities members’ awareness of the importance of active participation, mainly through engaging in environmentally friendly actions. Overall, the level of pluralism and tendency for active citizenship will be increased.
Target groups of the project are local citizens who usually have low levels of active participation, due to either the lack of opportunities, lack of know-how and/or knowledge in specific policy areas. They live in small towns with mostly traditional political cultures and lack formal education in areas covered by the project, so the best way to increase their capacities and levels of civic participation is by engaging them in informal learning programs, such as this one. We will put special emphasis on members of these communities which belong to various vulnerable or minority groups, such as members of LGBTI+ communities, ethnic or religious minorities, people of lower socioeconomic status, migrants or the elderly.
CROSOL is a platform of more than 30 CSOs from all parts of Croatia. Instead of using formal project partnerships, we will use contacts from our member organisations to engage local populations, as well as utilizing expertise from our members in specific areas, especially those which are relevant for local context – for example, some of our members are active in peacebuilding topics which is relevant for Vukovar and Pakrac.
We will also contact local institutions such as libraries and community centres which have regular contact with local people in order to ensure enough participants.
Result 1: A total of 100 citizens (25 per community) will have their knowledge of topics in areas of sustainable development, minority rights, intercultural dialogue and social inclusion increased
Result 2: Level of civic engagement, pluralism, social inclusion and active participation will be increased in 4 local communities – Vukovar, Šibenik, Pakrac and Zadar
Result 3: Local institutions will have their capacities and know-how increased on how to better engage citizens and facilitate their participation in political life
Result 4: All educational materials from the workshops will be made available online and disseminated towards local communities targeted by the project, but also nation-wide for other communities not included in the project
In the context of growing populism all over the democratic world, including EU member states, it is important to strengthen those initiatives which increase levels of democratic civic culture, pluralism, intercultural dialogue and civic engagement all across the EU, especially in these areas where they are mostly lacking, and where there is a dominant authoritarian or socially conservative political culture. In order to combat populism and other authoritarian political trends, citizens need to be better informed and strengthened to participate in political life. Our project aims to increase their level of democratic political culture, increase their awareness and capabilities to become active citizens and to participate in their local communities’ political life.
This idea includes activities which complement our core work regarding strengthening democracy in the EU, increasing the level of civic engagement and protecting human rights and the environment. This grant would allow us to reach out and extend our work towards communities where we currently have little presence, and enable us to empower citizens in smaller communities (so called “civic deserts”) who usually have little opportunity or knowledge on how to be active citizens.
It also corresponds to our organisations’ goals, including advocating for strengthening the fundamental European values and promoting education for development and international solidarity.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Project manager/personnel cost – 7500 EUR (625 per month x 12 months)
Educational outputs (production of materials, implementing the workshops, honoraria for the trainers) - 18 000 EUR
Dissemination and PR (social media boosting, cooperation with the local/national media/promo articles)– 2500 EUR
Travel and accommodation costs (for project staff and participants)– 6000 EUR
Local event costs (catering & renting venues & equipment) – 4000 EUR
Consumables and administrative costs – 2000 EUR
We would appreciate any feedback on approaches and methods on how to increase interest from local communities to participate in the project and how best to transfer the knowledge to those who have no previous experience or knowledge in project topics.