This is an archived version of
My Friend Shuraleh | Civic Europe
Environment and sustainability, Civic education

My Friend Shuraleh

This cryptic creature protects the birds and wild animals of the forest. It defends its territory by tickling the logger. It has been spotted everywhere Tatars live and tell their fairy-tales.


Who is behind this?

Taner Murat aka Shuraleh

Asociatia Multiculturala Anticus


Who is joining forces?

Institute for Caucasica, Tatarica and Turkestan Studies (ICATAT), Magdeburg, Germany

Northern Institute for Environmental and Minority Law at the Arctic Centre in the University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland

Issyk-Kul State University named after K.Tynystanov, Karakol, Kyrgyzstan

Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies, Bulgaria; Dept of State Language and Social Linguistics of Institute of Linguistics and Literature, Kyrgyzstan; Institute of Cultural Heritage, Moldova,


Idea pitch

In heavenly Dobrudja, the Tatar culture and Nature are suffering. „The environmental crisis is fundamentally a spiritual crisis,” says Thomas Berry. Our goal is to reconcile the local socio-ecological disharmony. We will extensively document Shuraleh’s existence and teach everyone, Tatars and Romanians, Shuraleh’s magic language and art. Our objectives are (a) laying the groundwork of education in Tatar, and (b) initiating an environmental movement to stop the local neglect of Nature.

Where will your project idea take place?

Dobrudja, the peninsular paradise in south-east Romania where the Danube embraces the Black Sea

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

For at least 700 years the Tatar language dominated the land of Dobrudja. Around 1940 the Romanian replaced Tatar as the majority language of the region. Today, the civic involvement of the Tatars is incoherent and unsubstantial due to the dilution of their number, language, and culture. As a follow, (A) there is a linguistic and cultural gap between the Tatar elders and the younger generations, the sign of a severely endangered language. Also, (B) there is a polarization of the Romanian and Tatar cultural groups and the strong domination of the Romanians seems to bring no special deference for the environment: waste pollution, stray dogs, less and less urban gardens and parks, a Danube Delta stifled by human presence and plastic waste.

Who are you doing it for?

We are aimed at multiple audiences. The main source of documentation is the Tatar heritage influencers, people over 65 living in the rural Dobrudja (total of 19.800 Tatars) or abroad, known for the knowledge of their native language, traditions, and customs, for their narrative, artistic or craft skills, usually herders, dancers, singers, Kuresh wrestlers, artisans, eagle hunters, weavers, poets, etc.
One group of beneficiaries are urban young Tatars in Dobrudja, up to forty years old, at least high school graduates, familiar with modern technologies, book readers, lovers of the arts and environment, aware of sharing a certain history and mother tongue.
A larger group are the local Romanians(total 885.000) with a similar profile but with no particular consideration for Tatar culture

How do you plan to get there?

Step 1 – Broad documentation of Shuraleh’s existence and the traditional way Tatars deal with the environment
1.a Fieldwork: interviewing the native heritage influencers
1.b Exploration: delivering physical evidence of Shuraleh's existence (image hunting)
1.c Academic documentation: conferencing
Step 2 – Tatar School
2.a Curricula or educational materials for learners
2.b Training the trainers
2.c Training the young generations
Step 3 – Development of the ecological movement „My Friend Shuraleh”
3.a Educational materials for learners
3.b Tatar art workshops
3.c In-person meetings with policy-makers and influencers
3.d Landscape studies and maps with targeted areas
3.e Development and signing of Plans for the Management and Maintenance of Shuraleh’s Reserves

What are the expected results?

With a rebalanced cultural diversity, a year from now Dobrudja is going to be a more interesting and enjoyable place. Training the first grades and tomorrow’s teachers, artists, and artisans, the first Tatar School in the region will gather all generations in a unique auditorium stopping the cultural decay and the psychological pain of this minority and reshaping into the authentic mold their identity, self-recognition, and self-appreciation.
With the opening or immediate perspective of the first Shuraleh Reserve, the regional inter-ethnic cohesion will be strengthened and the citizens’ environmental responsibility improved. People will be more and more aware that communities with multiculturalism have extra socio-economic capital which creates certain tangible opportunities.

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

We will address the challenge (A) by encouraging Tatar communities to take up their heritage ownership and by transferring the traditional knowledge to the younger generations through a program of training and playing with cross-generational involvement. This will instill a sense of pride in the local way and interest in maintaining the traditional culture, finally resulting in a qualitative growth of their civic participation.
By transferring the holistic view and the complex relationship the rural Tatar elders have with Nature to the younger urban Romanians we will confront the challenge (B) strengthening the social cohesion, with a positive impact on the citizens’ engagement in matters of environmental degradation.

Why is this idea important to you?

Last year, working under the IYIL2019 UNESCO logo, we have organized the events aimed at the conservation and revitalization of the Tatar language in Romania. While there is a need to do more, there has never been a better time to bring to the surface the story of Shuraleh. On the one hand, the UN recently issued a strategic roadmap for the Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032) prioritizing the empowerment of indigenous language users. On the other hand, deforestation and the imminence of a planetary climate disaster have become more significant than ever before. It’s important for the world to learn from and listen to the collective wisdom of the underrepresented communities and to find equitable solutions with all communities in mind, ensuring this Earth is hospitable to everyone.

€ 61293,-

Total budget

€ 49592,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Staff/Compensation: €19872
Travel: €5994
Lodging: €1400
Food: €2510
Equipment & Supplies: €3870
Subcontracting, consultancy, studies, projects and other external services: €6029
Measurement and Evaluation 10%: €3967
Institutional Overhead 15%: €5951
Conferencing: €11700
Since Civic Europe covers the main expenses of €49593, we understand to cover the conferencing costs, estimated of €11700 as in the previous years of our activity, with our personal contribution.

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would welcome any feedback and advice on what we need to improve or change to find the right direction. We are interested in changing ideas with other multicultural projects.



Idea created on May 18, 2020
Last edit on May 27, 2020

Write comment