Education and research, Journalism

FLAME: Fostering Learning and Media Education

This is an intervention into the political discourse in Bulgaria of four strands: 1) a critical online magazine; 2) a critical YT Channel; 3) Course for change agents; 4) Coaching change agents.


Who is behind this?

Milena Stateva

Orion Grid for Leadership and Authority



Idea pitch

There is a notable gap in understanding, let alone writing and doing, social and political critique in Bulgaria. A simplistic “fault-finding” approach and a widely promoted ideological neoliberal discourse with very few alternatives have taken the central stage. A related gap is the support to activists, whistleblowers, and investigative journalists. They often lack theoretical education in social and political thought and/or in practical process skills for navigation in complexity.

Where will your project idea take place?


What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

The practices are corrupted at levels as the ability to think, the principles and the values are gradually eroding. Members of middle layers of society that normally have the means and capacity to safeguard democracy and hold the institutions accountable cannot realize their potential because of the inadequacy of contemporary leaders and the constructed discourses. The leaders themselves do not have enough space for thinking due to psychological, economic and political and even criminal pressures from above, from the environment and from below. The civil society lacks breathing space as a result of austerity, marketization, inertia and elitism and in Bulgaria it mostly comprises social service providers. Little wonder that there is a lot of free-floatin suppressed anger among citizens.

Who are you doing it for?

The team of the Orion Grid provides an opportunity for leaders, activists, whistleblowers, investigative journalists, etc to receive support in moments crucial for their performance. To be a leader or an activist presupposes that one has a range of challenging experiences. The constant difficulties, the attempts at devaluing, the feelings of failure, guilt, and doubts in the meaning of our undertakings are a part of the road of each one of us. Our success often depends on our ability to find the resource in our problems, to re-discover the meaning for us anew in order to continue with a renewed energy and faith in our strengths. Depending on their requirements and needs, we offer a range of forms of support and consultation provided by consultants experienced in activism and leadership.

How do you plan to get there?

There is a need for a strong educational and process intervention in the prevailing discourse and practices that educate at different levels in citizenship. The lack of such practice leads to uncritical and empty debates and discussions, which are not informed by critical thinking, social and political thought, and advances in psychoanalysis, socioanalysis and group dynamics processes. The universities in Bulgaria with their outdated theoretical and practical bodies of knowledge and methodologies do not foster the development of citizens, activists, whistleblowers, and investigative journalists as the carers of the democratic impulse.

The project will sustainably install a four-strand approach, starting with an online magazine and a youtube channel to cover wider audiences and to disseminate contemporary theories, methodologies and analyses on doing democracy. In parallel, in order to multiply the effects and to apply such theories and methodologies in practice, we will be available to coach individual democratic actors, one-on-one and in groups, to help them apply those in real life and will deliver a one-year course for up to 15 change agents based on psychodynamic understanding of groups and organizations.

As a part of the project we will also strengthen sustainably our own organization which is registered in 2019. The project will allow us to work full time.

What are the expected results?

Key effects and impact of this project will be:
1. Civic engagement, transparency and pressure for accountability
2. A step forward towards internet and media freedom
3. Greater media literacy

This will be achieved through:
a) Kickstarting an online magazine and publishing 3 issues
b) Developing our youtube channel and broadcasting at least 6 episodes of a new series
c) Training 15 change agents in an advanced PG programme
d) Coaching at least 20 carers of the democratic impulse within at least 100 sessions altogether

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

These pieces of work will serve to educate people via the online presence as well as to support others to multiply the effects by training rigorously at least 30 change agents within both the course and one on one coaching. While critique, analysis and understanding are the foundations for meaningful practice and action, there is also the problem with citizens lacking process skills, “soft” skills for navigation in complexity, for strategic planning, leadership, authority, and (self) organizing. It is important that such phenomena are worked through the discourse, the narratives and the stories people and experts tell, but it is also crucial that they are addressed in terms of being and doing. The arts and artistic techniques are also important to be deployed in such processes.

Why is this idea important to you?

The Orion Grid was conceived in 2014 as a project of Dr Stateva, who originated the concept, methodology and practice at the Tavistock Institute in the UK. A team of experienced professionals in the Humanities and the Social Sciences, who are also activists and, several of them, avant-garde artists, founded and registered the organization as an association for public benefit. Our goal is the galvanization and harmonization of a grid via partnerships with like-minded people and collaborators.
We develop the association as a network of specialized organizations and institutions – civil, scientific, art unions and associations, trade unions, high schools and higher education institutions, the specialized institutes, professional editions, and others.
We specialize in dissent.

€ 35000,-

Total budget

€ 35000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Online magazine (software): 2500
Online magazine (labor): 6000
Youtube channel (labor): 4000
Marketing: 1500
Course: 15000
Coaching: 100 sessions x 60 = 6000

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We welcome all feedback, as well as ideas for collaboration, and we are available to provide training and organizational consultancy to similar endeavors across Europe. We are overall available to provide process consultancy in individual and group sessions online in English to all in need.



Idea created on April 26, 2021

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