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PlaceMake Democracy | Civic Europe
Community development, Youth participation and empowerment

PlaceMake Democracy

Engaging communities in a creative participatory process of placemaking to improve the public area and to cherish community identity – thus contributing to bottom-up neighborhood democracy


Who is behind this?

Vlad Fedorov

BG Be Active


Who is joining forces?



Young Improvers for Youth Development – YIYD


Together for personal development


The organisations will have relevant partnerships with their municipalities, as well as local NGOs.


Idea pitch

Youth in Bulgaria are often excluded from civic life, and this practice has led to chronic lack of engagement. We aim to engage young people in social processes through placemaking which will allow them to better understand their role in society, enter into dialogue with the wider community, citizens, and local authorities. This project will support youth from 3 communities to design a placemaking project, learn new skills, and share their experiences and knowledge with the other 3 communities

Where will your project idea take place?

Comunities of Dulovo (North Bulgaria), Rakovski (Central Bulgaria), Smolyan (South Bulgaria)

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

With the process of globalization and shift of focus to the local level, communities have become key players in political life. Communities with sense of pride are the ones who undertake bold actions and present creative solutions to challenges. The civic society in Bulgaria comes short of small community initiatives to capacitate local residents on participation, to urge support and to prompt neighborhood democracy. The potential of the community is neglected, as most initiatives start at the top national level and combat anti-democratic prejudices without addressing the nature of these prejudices. Our project aims to strengthen civic space in communities in Bulgaria through democratic participation of young people in development of public spaces with the concept of placemaking.

Who are you doing it for?

The 3 communities we chose come from our partner network that we have been working with for over 4 years to promote civic engagement through placemaking. They
expressed the need for additional support to drive further social cohesion and encourage dialogue between community members. While focusing on youth, specific target groups are different:
Smolyan - to give a sense of initiative to marginalized and culturally diverse young people of geographically isolated Smolyan district to tackle youth exodus and disenchantment
Dulovo - to give a sense of identity to disadvantaged kids and kids from Roma community to foster community cooperation
Rakovski – to motivate creative learning and responsibility in young people of religiously diverse youth to promote their inclusion in community life

How do you plan to get there?

The project will unfold in 3 phases.
The Phase 1 will focus on building the sense of community for further actions:
- In each community (Dulovo, Rakovski and Smolyan) we will hold a community-building activity (a social activity that brings together the members of the community) and introduce residents to each other.
- We will then conduct a training on placemaking (in each location) in order to get them acquainted with a process, instruments, and instruct how to work with community peers.
- At the end of the Phase 1, community residents will submit their ideas on renovation.
The Phase 2 will focus on specific placemaking interventions:
- Based on the ideas submitted, we will present draft plans for the spaces and facilitate community discussions with local stakeholders (local stakeholders in each community).
- As soon as we have collected feedback, we will present a plan for a physical intervention per community.
- Finally, we will organize and facilitate a physical process of placemaking in each community.
The Phase 3 will follow up successes:
- Each community will organize one celebration activity to officially open the place and award active community members.
- We will also arrange one common event with representatives of 3 communities and participation of stakeholders on national level to share their examples and provide sustainable advocacy to the project.

What are the expected results?

At the end the project 3 communities will have boosted informal civic participation, and established trust between residents by improving local climate. A practical application of placemaking through joint work and support will lay foundations of community democratic cooperation. A positive experience of a democratic process will improve understanding of democracy and debunk traditional stereotypes of its inefficiency. The project will increase capacity of the partner NGOs in developing democratic skills and adapting the placemaking methodology for including youth in civic life. At the end of the project we will have a network of 3 communities where young people will have the tools and knowledge to continue to inspire others and engage in civic innovation and community development.

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

By learning to work jointly in a placemaking process, apart from acquiring on-site knowledge to use manual instruments, young people develop necessary skills of assuming responsibility for the place and creating solutions together. The project will contribute to improving civic awareness bottom-up through youth involvement in an inclusive, participatory and equal placemaking process. As the placemaking approach has demonstrated a great potential to create bonds between community members in BG Be Active interventions since 2017, it has been employed sporadically and has not been tested as a means to promote democracy up to now. We will also target specifically young people and create a youth placemaking network.

Why is this idea important to you?

We work in a network of international partners and support a network of Bulgarian NGOs working in the field of youth work, and community-building. We deeply care about community involvement through innovative methods and focus on employing placemaking to create social cohesion, and furthering our advocacy efforts. Having a placemaking expertise and capacities to engage national stakeholders, we aim to facilitate knowledge transfer and exchange of resources at local level. Our partners will help us in reaching the communities and mapping their challenges to find the placemaking localized solutions. Our consortium believes that the project will give a sense of identity to the target communities and a good example of positive bottom-up democratic experience of involving youth in civic life.

€ 34000,-

Total budget

€ 34000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

18K: Community activities in 3 communities – 6K each:
- Community-building activities: 1K
- Local stakeholders meetings: 1,5K
- Placemaking intervention: 3,5K
6K: Communication:
- Materials: 3K
- PR campaign: 1,5K
- Social media campaign: 1,5K
5K: Sustainability conference with community urban stakeholders on national level: transportation costs, place for conference, equipment
5K: Personnel costs: support for the local partners, project management and administration, expert support

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would like to get ideas for community-building activities, to discover how to reach urban stakeholders effectively and how to advocate for bottom-up democracy.



Idea created on April 23, 2021
Last edit on April 26, 2021

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