Helike Community Regeneration is an idea for community engagement and empowerment, addressed to rural communities of villages in Aigialeia that need space for gathering, expression and creation. Our goal is to empower them to participate actively in their community, develop cultural awareness, protect its environment and take initiatives to improve their lives through the regeneration of community spaces (e.g. public buildings, squares, gardens) using community arts and sustainable approaches.
Neighboring villages of Nikoleika, Rizomylos and Eliki at Aigialeia, Achaea, Western Greece.
We are going to focus our activities in three coastal villages (Nikoleika, Rizomylos, Eliki) of the municipality of Aigialeia, which lay over the buried ancient city of ‘Helike’. The main challenges that the villages face are:
-the lack of cultural knowledge (history, myths, tales) about ‘Helike’,
-the lack of community awareness,
-the lack of the environmental protection of the community and its natural surroundings,
intra and inter-village conflicts (eg. on the borders and names of the coastal area),
-lack of active participation and engagement of the majority of the community members (young people, women, immigrants and other underrepresented groups), and,
-the minor or non utilization of the public buildings and spaces by the community.
Young people: all learning and participation opportunities are offered in the nearby town of Egio. Buses connecting the villages with the town are scarce. As a result, young people living in the villages without a car have no opportunities to learn, actively participate and improve themselves.
Women: whereas men have the coffee shops where they gather and debate, women have no place to congregate, discuss about their challenges, cooperate and take actions for the improvement of their community and their own lives.
Underrepresented groups (e.g. LGBTIQ, immigrants): people with different sexual orientation and gender identity suffer from bullying and discrimination from their community members. Immigrant families usually feel isolated as they can not fully integrate into the community.
Methods & Approach: Arts-based engagement, Non-formal learning activities, Discovery interviews, e-engagement, World Cafes. A ‘Scavenger Hunt’ game will be created to better motivate the community to engage in all stages of the project.
-Setting specific objectives: Intangible: Civic competences, Cultural awareness and expression, Entrepreneurial, Personal and Social competences. Tangible: Regeneration of the public spaces (community gardens, arts/youth centre), artistic creations inspired by the local culture of ‘Helike’ (theatre, tales, crafts, music, etc).
-Identification of the target groups: youth, women, underrepresented groups.
-Needs Analysis: We have already used social surveys, interviews, and communication with representatives of the target groups to learn more about their needs. The main issues are lack of cohesion, tolerance, initiation, lack of cultural and environmental awareness, unemployment.
-Reaching stakeholders: Villages and city hall leaders, NGO members, local businesses owners, school teachers.
Activities: Coaching on empowerment, active participation, entrepreneurship, inclusion and tolerance. Arts Shows & Culture Shares in public spaces to bring the community together. Setting up arts/youth centres with and for the community utilizing public buildings. Setting up local environmental clean up groups. Creating community gardens.
We expect to make people’s voices heard by the local authorities and empower them so that they take initiatives that will truly change their lives and their communities for the better. After the project, we expect the local community to be more aware about the local history and culture (Helike ancient city cultural creations (theatre, crafts, tales, etc), take care of the natural surroundings (environmental groups), make good use of the public spaces and buildings (arts/youth centre, library, community gardens), be more tolerant (collaborate with local immigrants, welcome foreigners, learn languages), take initiatives towards personal, professional and social growth (create job opportunities, host workshops and skill shares).
Global connections: Our international guest specialists will foster global connections with the community members. Locals will spend time and work with them and they will be able to compare and contrast society, education, culture, food, etc.
Civic Ideas: Our focus on active citizenship will help them garner ideals for a democratic society. Meeting with the mayor and deputy mayors, they will learn and understand how decision making works, the importance of participatory citizenship and to value the work of the officials.
Groups and Institutions: Our team, as well as others that work with orphan children, people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups will share the benefits of volunteering. Also, the public library is a great community resource for primary sources of information.
Creative YouthLand’s team is experienced in non-formal learning, arts -based engagement and project management. Born and raised in the area, we have observed the lack of civic engagement and the specific characteristics of the community.
We host European projects in this area often, engaging with the local people and collaborating with the local authorities and associations. Local leaders have been willing to support our activities by providing us with public spaces and inviting members to participate. For instance, the leader of Nikoleika village has expressed his concern about the minor utilization of the community department office and its rooms. The impact of our short term projects on a local level has been important so far, so we aim for a long term project engaging more people.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Project Management: 5000
Activities & Human Resources: 22000
Accommodation & Food: 3000
Travel & Transportation: 3000
Promotion & Dissemination: 1000
Exceptional Costs: 6000
We would like to receive feedback, advice and ideas from groups who run similar projects internationally, and particularly working with community arts engagement. Also, examples of tips on working towards the sustainability of the project.