Sharing your idea, having a debate and getting people onboard about a civic initiative is almost impossible when you’re gathering signatures en masse on the street. What if you had access to an online platform that lets you lay down your thoughts, show your progress and answer citizen’s questions? Not a substitute for - rather a complement to - live activism. A platform that people can use to ask questions, get details and digitally sign your petition or initiative.
The project will take place in Varna, Bulgaria but can easily grow to national scope.
We’re going to address the issue of citizens not being well informed of their power to influence in a mandatory way the development of their communities. We’re going to give them innovative and easy tools to do so. We’re going to challenge the fragmentarization of civic initiatives and groups and give them a platform to band together, publicize common problems and debate about common solutions. Our online platform will bring other interested citizens and organisations to these initiatives and let them sign the initiatives digitally. Furthermore, given the Coronavirus pandemic, these forms of direct involvement in local (and not only) initiatives are even harder.Sign digital, Impact Real will be the solutions to all of these problems.
We’re doing this project to help every citizen in Varna,its surroundings have his or her voice heard when it comes to changing their community and way of living. More specifically, we’ll try to reach the disenfranchised part of the population, that “does not vote and does not care”, by proposing an easy and clear roadmap to activism. Secondly, we’re going to reach young people, educate them on digital civic engagement and push them to action. Third of all, we want this project to be a boost for the NGO sector in the area and in the country as a whole in terms of their initiatives and potential impact. Another key target group will be the Varna City Council that has the power to move civic initiatives to laws or set up a referendum.
To achieve the project’s aim - a recognized platform to debate and sign citizens’ initiatives - we’ll go to three interconnected and mutually dependent sets of activities to gather information, build the platform and communicate.
Firstly, we’ll organize a set of roundtables/discussions with NGO representatives, politicians and active citizens to define the platform's capabilities and its structure - our partner CPF will be of tremendous help with their network of over 100 NGO’s involved in civic society engagement. These discussions will also serve to inform the participants and their members about the project itself.
We’ll set up the platform with the functionalities agreed upon on the roundtable. We’ll set up a podcast to communicate and debate the initiatives that receive the most attention on the website.
To tie all of this together, an information campaign will run for the duration of the project and, depending on the project stage, will include the following:
● simplification and systematization of opportunities for civic engagement and participation in local government as defined in the applicable national law
● benefits of a digital signature; how to get one
● project information and platform dissemination,
At the end of the project, we'll do a Citizen Participation Index to measure the initiative's impact.
With the end of the project every civil society activist and organization will have a platform to inform the public about its initiatives and receive signatures for them. On the other hand, people of Varna will have a single point of contact for every initiative, a platform to ask questions and receive answers and a way to support the proposals. The podcast will be a way to inform the public on most pressing issues, host different opinions and - being a medium with growing popularity among the new generation - reach out to the youth.
We are aiming at least 100% increase in local initiatives, compared to the last CP index, carried out in Varna.
Our proposed open online platform will help NGOs and citizens’ groups to present, disseminate and answer questions about their initiatives. Community members on the other hand, will be able to get information and sign those initiatives that they find meaning and usefulness in. Once a certain, stated in the law, signature count is met, a local referendum is carried out and the vote becomes obligatory for the local government. We will be also engaged in two educational campaigns - one about the law on citizens’ direct participation in government, the other about the digital signature as an easier way to make use of e-gov services and civic activism. Furthermore, the interconnected podcast will always invite opposing views to discuss problems and initiatives.
Simeon has а BA in European studies and 3 years of experience in the NGO sector; believes he can help his hometown, Varna, to realize its potential.
Vasil is an informatics student in Heidelberg University with several publications and uni assistant experience.
Lyuba is acquiring an LLM, specializing in Civil and Constitutional law. She will carry out the participation index in Varna.
Kostadin is an LLM with 3 years legal experience and a year in the NGO sector, firm believer of educating the population about the law and its power.
Georgi Petrov is the deputy director of CPF. Since 1995, he is involved in the non-governmental sector, with a focus on the development and modernization of community centers. He is also founder and chairman of the Contemporary Community Centre.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Online Platform 8000 EUR
Podcast equipment and related costs 3500 EUR
Informational and educational campaigns 3500 EUR
Staff budget 19 500 EUR