Democracy and participation, Migration


A youth-led, bottom-up and all-inclusive anti-nationalism movement, aiming to systemically change the civic fabric of Lesvos, and reconstruct a shared democratic space across pockets of Europe


Who is behind this?

Aris Papadopoulos



Who is joining forces?



KALOTROPIO - Centre for Social Solidarity Economy of Lesvos


Lesvos-based consortium of 2 CSOs and 1 initiative with established cooperation in youth projects. Budget 50-50% between 2 CSOs, with initiative offering pro-bono venue, networking and communication


Idea pitch

PEACEBUILDERS is a hands-on peacebuilding program, where multicultural, cross-generational and gender-inclusive local and refugee children, unaccompanied minors and youth, co-create actions, policies and a public campaign, that citizens, civil society, and policymakers can utilize across pockets of Europe, to systemically reconstruct a resilient civic fabric and shared democratic space, capable of curbing extremist ideology targeting the ‘other’ and the core values of our European community

Where will your project idea take place?

LESVOS [GR]: Geographically-remote island hosting the largest refugee camp and population in Europe

What is the local challenge?

Since 2015, more than 1 million refugees have gone through Lesvos and currently 25.000 diverse people live in abhorrent conditions. Lesvos has transformed from a geographically remote island to an active hotpot of right-wing extremism and nationalism spreading in Europe.
The systemic dissipation of civil society, have caused the civic fabric of Lesvos to disintegrate in front of the eyes of locals and the world. Democratic space, has been occupied by local and continental extremists, who weaponise Lesvos as a poster child in promoting EU nationalism.
With locals, refugees and civil society experiencing intimidation from extremists, police brutality and ethnic infighting, Lesvos is a magnifying glass for the spread of nationalism across Europe, poisoning our youth and future generations.

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

-Empowers polarized local and refugee youth to establish a youth-led movement where diverse groups engage in hands-on co-creation of policies affecting them, and design a campaign to make their voice heard in the public domain
-Raises the empathy between polarised local and refugee citizens by bringing them together in a series of dialogues where they equally raise their voice on shared challenges they face (impoverishment, etc), and jointly find solutions to improve their well-being
-Mobilizes local and regional CSOs to create a united front that advocates and proposes solutions reconstructing democratic and civic space
-Brings together diverse shareholders (youth, CSOs, governments) to work towards systemic change in nationalism through youth-led antinationalism initiatives

Who are you doing it for?

-100x Local & Refugee Youth: Excluded from civic participation, youth engage in co-creating policies and a public campaign to promote them.
-500x Local & Refugee Citizens: Citizens affected by the refugee crisis and disengaged from civic participation, engage in the youth-led communities events.
-10x Civil Society Organisations: Threatened by adverse nationalist measures, CSOs engage in the creation of a united advocacy front supported by regular meetings.
-10x Policymakers: Local and EU policymakers are engaged via the policy recommendations created by youth and advocated in direct meetings with them.
-100.00x EU CITIZENS: Citizens who are disenfranchised with European values are reached via the youth-led public campaign.

How do you plan to get there?

POLICY LABS: Bi-weekly workshops where local and refugee mentors empower 100 local and refugee youth to co-create policy recommendations and co-design a public advocacy campaign aimed at curbing nationalism and extremism.
CIVIC EVENTS: Youth and CSOs will produce 5 community-based civic events, aimed at reaching 500 diverse community members. The public events are: arts exhibition, conference, public workshop, urban game and music concert.
PEER-TO-PEER MENTORSHIP PROGRAM: 20 workshops empowering local and refugee youth to become ambassadors for the project and mentors to their peers, inspiring ground-up adaptation and systemic change in their communities.
WORKING GROUP: Monthly meetings comprised of diverse CSOs, aimed at sustaining a united advocacy front against nationalism.

What are the expected results?

Anticipating to locally observe:
• Curbing of nationalism and extremism through the reduction of violent incidents
• Invigoration of civil society through increased partnerships between organizations aimed at sustaining a united advocacy front campaigning for peaceful and diverse co-existence
• Unification of diverse youth communities and reduction of interracial conflict in youth
• Reconstruction of an open and shared democratic space, through the active civic engagement of diverse youth, citizens and CSOs
• Restoration of civility through the sustainability of democratic dialogue across civic life
• Increased awareness amongst diverse shareholder groups on the damage that has occurred to Lesvos’ civic fabric, and of tangible solutions towards its restoration.

How does your initiative contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe?

Though locally implemented, the project addresses relevant topics for the entire Union. The rise of nationalism and extremism, shrinking of democratic space and systemic dissipation of civil society.
We will openly distribute our resources, best practices and insights to CSOs across Europe who can adapt, implement and scale them to address overarching challenges in their own localities by using co-creation with their citizens to systemically restore civic space across pockets of Europe
We will utilize the public campaign produced by the youth, to appeal to citizens and policymakers across Europe who may or may not be sympathetic with our cause, as means of creating a safe, shared and open civic dialogue space where discursive opinions can be heard on the future of European democracy.

What is your story?

With the civic fabric of our geographically-remote, impoverished and incredibly multicultural community, being deconstructed by right wing extremists, we witness the majority of youth turn to nationalism. With a similar trend spreading across the continent, the values that hold our European Union in place are being eradicated across neighborhoods and communities.
Our connection and attachment to the island as locals and as defenders of European civic and human rights, drives our mission to reconstruct democratic space and envision a resilient civic future for continental citizens. Our aim is to generate tools enabling youth, citizens and CSOs of Lesvos and Europe to work in tandem as a united advocacy front, capable of systemically challenging the spread of nationalism.

€ 50000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

€ 65000,-

Total budget

Major expenses

Project Administration:5000
2xCivic Educators (refugee+local):7000
2xCultural Mediators (refugee+local):7000
2xDemocratic Facilitators (refugee+local):7000
1xAdvocacy Trainer:3500
1xCampaign Designer:3500
1xCommunication Officer:3500
1xFinancial Officer:500
Video for communication:3500
Social Media:4000
Travel & Accommodation for partnering & dissemination:1000
*Already secured 15k to reach total budget*

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

Hoping for initiatives to reach out to us and vice versa, so we can generate new partnerships and a united advocacy front that will tackle the adverse measures taken across Europe in limiting civic engagement, democratic culture, solidarity towards diversity, and the inclusion of the ‘other’.



Idea created on May 27, 2020
Last edit on Aug. 3, 2020

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