Fundatia Comunitara Tara Fagarasului
Fagaras Research Institute
The Fagaras Research Institute will accompany our process of activating local communities through civic engagement, will accompany us in the design and implementation of the reflection and evaluation.
Imagine a community coming back to life after decades of oppression. In that process, support for enhancing civic engagement is key to giving both hope and the necessary skills for community leaders and groups to act on the challenges their communities face. We aim to build just that - a mechanism that brings communities to life through civic engagement, targeting all community groups, and especially vulnerable groups, and supporting them to grow meaningful civic action.
FCTF serves the villages and towns in Tara Fagarasului, Southern Transylvania, Romania.
Despite its beautiful nature, the region is facing complex socio-economic challenges including accentuated depopulation and aging, economic decay, low level of entrepreneurship and civic engagement. Regarding the quality of democracy, the region is exposing a low level of civic participation and organized civil society, leaving most community challenges unattended. Regarding societal cohesion, the region has a significant level of Roma population that is discriminated, marginalized and in poverty. Additionally, there is a significant level of out-migration (Fagaras lost almost half of its 1992 population). Out-migration brings challenges related to unattended elderly and children left with grandparents, discrimination against those returning from abroad, as well as human trafficking.
Our idea is to empower local leaders and groups to take action and address local needs. We aim to do that by engaging local leaders and groups in generating ideas, learning needed civic engagement skills, and implementing their ideas in local communities, demonstrating active participation. With empowered local leaders, groups and organizations, the region will increase its capacity to address the above-described socio-economic challenges. Furthermore, with increased civil action, on mid term, more accountability will be demanded from local leaders and public institutions, leading to more impactful local decisions. We see this as a pilot program that can be replicated in other parts of the program countries.
In order to reach its aim, the proposed idea will build an integrated approach that targets diverse groups from the local communities, according to their level of civic engagement. The approach will target the following categories of beneficiaries: civically uninvolved people but who wish to learn about civic engagement after being exposed to the project's information, education, communication (IEC) campaign, local leaders and informal groups, initiative groups and small organizations, medium and large organizations. Special attention will be given to youth and to people pertaining to vulnerable groups, as well as to initiatives that target the environment, inequality and gender violence.
In implementing our idea, we are going to pursue the following steps. First, we are going to create the mechanism for identifying local leaders, initiatives, and organizations (approx. 100) and stimulate them to engage their communities in a process that generates solutions to local needs. Second, we are going to work with a number of 30 to 50 local initiatives through developing partnerships and building local networks of support. Third, we will provide training and knowledge for the local leaders, initiatives, and organizations. Fourth we will assist the implementation process and support the initiatives to monitor their outputs, outcomes, and impact. Finally, we will engage in a reflection and learning process that will generate lessons learnt and a manual/tool-kit for replication.
Were we to be able to implement the proposed idea, the Fagaras region will be different in one year through the number of local initiatives, projects, leaders, initiative groups that the idea would generate. We envisage engaging 200 local leaders (out of whom at least 20% are youth and 20% are elderly), generating 20 to 30 initiative groups, implementing 30 to 50 local initiatives, holding 10 -15 training sessions, building a network of about 40-50 partners. Accomplishing all these will generate a different feeling in the region, a feeling of meaningful civic action, empowerment, and respect for the community.
A current weakness of the European project relates to the inability of EU institutions to meaningfully mobilize local communities to become engaged, proactive, innovative, and able to use the freedoms enshrined in constitutions and treaties - especially so in rural areas and small towns. The proposed idea is enhancing the ability of local leaders to see the benefits of exercising one’s constitutional rights related to civic participation, freedom of assembly, and freedom of speech, through enabling them to acquire the needed skills and practice them in their communities. Therefore, the proposed idea contributes to one of the softspots in European efforts with consolidating internal democracy.
Our mission as a Community Foundation is to strengthen the capacity of local communities through enhancing civic engagement and civil society development and also through augmenting local generosity and philanthropy. We are engaged in doing both and are in a constant process of testing mechanisms, funds, approaches to how we could better stimulate our communities in order for them to become more engaged, dynamic, and resilient. Therefore the idea we are proposing steams from the core of our mission and is driving to a significant extent our existence as an organization.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Personnel Costs - 12,300 EUR: the project management team will ensure a good implementation of all activities;
A campaign to promote civic involvement and civil rights - 6,000 EUR;
Research - 11,700 EUR;
Community engagement: 20,000 EUR;
Develop a manual for replicating the process of civil society involvement in small rural and urban areas by accompanying the activities included in the project: 5000 EUR.
We would greatly appreciate recommendations for models and approaches for activating local communities, building networks of local leaders, and online tools for civic engagement in local communities.