Szabad Ifjúsági Alkotásért Egyesület (Association of Independent Youth Effort)
Salgótarjáni Ifjúsági Információs és Tanácsadó Iroda (Youth Information and Counselling Agency of Salgótarján); SITI
Integrated Community Service Spaces (IKSZT) of Kazár
Integrated Community Service Spaces (IKSZT) of Buják
Cultural Centre of Érsekvadkert: https://bit.ly/2X59w9W DemoLab: https://demolab.hu/en/ Jelen! Student Publishing House (informal group): https://jelenkiado.hu/l/e/
‘Present the Future, Nógrád!’ targets youth in Nógrád, where the educational system fails to offer perspective leading to social and political apathy and a negative attitude towards learning, participation and active citizenship. In a segregated society with few cultural activities and community spaces for entertainment, our organisation plans on empowering our fellow students by gradually creating a self-organized community of free expression via methods combining arts and civic education.
North-Hungary, Nógrád county:
Despite its proximity to Budapest, Nógrád can neither economically nor culturally sustain itself. It has high unemployment rates, coupled with low wages. Due to its geographical features, Nógrád is characterized by small villages and only one small town in the region. Hence, it has not been possible to create a cultural center, which could hold local youth together. Thus, the region is characterized by social and political apathy, and perception towards learning and active engagement is rather negative. Most adolescents attend vocational high schools, many repeat years, and there is a high drop-out rate. Schools are often segregated, strengthening the barrier between local ethnic minorities and other youth communities. Also, they lack a platform where students can represent themselves.
The goal of democracy is to create equity for all members of society. There are counties, however, like Nógrád, that are unable to reach this goal. Our idea is based on youth to youth solidarity and horizontal knowledge sharing as state institutions fail to solve our local challenges. As a group of youth who believe we can shape our own future, we would like to show our fellow students ways to be active citizens, who seek opportunities themselves to bring change in their local communities. We would also like to create a platform, which enables our participants to support and stay in touch with each other even after our project.
The various events that we plan target adolescents from a wide range of socio-economic contexts. Furthermore, we want to approach the participants from different educational backgrounds such as vocational high schools and grammar schools. We would also like to involve students who already partake in extracurricular activities in the local art centres, the music academy or sports clubs as we would like to incentivise the youth to explore their field of interests by showing them different opportunities available. Our goal is to recruit as many youngsters as possible from that region, however, we believe that the number of participants for each event will be between 15-50 participants.
We wish to implement the project gradually by first mapping out the needs of the community, synchronising it with our ethos and organizing programs designed to fit their interests. Introductory events would comprise of team-building activities such as group hikes, sports events and film screenings followed by successively integrated and nuanced reflective discussions with a drive to formulate an inclusive community. Later the participants would instigate issues to work around and we will help them realise the solution. The project could eventually expand into an amalgamation of cultural and educational events like a group mural painting, talks with local artists, group debates or student union workshops. Methods and process steps are based on experiences in DemoLab.
We will deem our projects successful if we managed to mitigate cultural obstacles and negative preconceptions about educating oneself and build an inclusive and cohesive community among young peers. A year from now they will have recognized their agency and power to act, the importance of critical thinking and participating in the discussion of local affairs, the free expression of opinion, while adopting creative problem-solving skills. We also hope to empower student unions of the region to take more action in protecting the interests of the students, and to revive the community spaces, where anyone would be welcome and other youth initiated events could take place. Tangible results will be a lot of cultural activities, whose concrete form is to be defined together with the target group.
We believe that democracy is about presenting a choice to people and fundamentals of democracy depend on inclusivity and diversity of opinion. Our initiative aims at strengthening democracy by broadening the choices available for the youth of Nógrád and deepening their understanding of them through the medium of art and public discourse. Art as a tool for change has been widely used both to foster individual consciousness and social sensitisation. We believe that the grass-root nature of our project provides problem-focused alternatives in an underdeveloped region thus, local individuals will not only be able to ameliorate their own situation, but through the understanding of collective work will become more cognizant citizens.
Through DemoLab we experienced the discrepancies of opportunities available and standards of living between Budapest and rural areas, and the extent to which the youth can influence their environment. We found that artistic endeavours are not only brilliant in building a network of people but encourages reflection both on an individual and a global scale. Our mission is to reduce the general societal and political apathy of the younger generation and re-vitalize cultural life through programs accessible to people of all backgrounds. Thus, by building a youth collective with a cohesive idea in Nógrád they might be able to transform their situation and bring their community to reflect on their current situation and future perspectives.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
- Transportation (personnel & materials): 7 100 €
- Event costs: 18 400 €
- Public relations: 1 600 €
- Operating expenses: 6 000 €
- Material costs: 2 900 €
We would be glad to receive feedback from the online community on how well our initiative seems to tackle the societal problems we mentioned and what other challenges we may face during the project.