Association “Civil Initiative for Social Development and Integration” (GIORI)
“Only citizens who are directly affected by a problem have the right to fight for its solution.” This is what the ruling nationalists in BG have imposed as a public “truth”. Are they right? No! We strongly oppose this “truth”. We believe the civil society is called to defend the common good. Via this project we are building a cross-sector civil network to run advocacy campaigns in a row in order to focus the community power in the same way like Archimedes focused the rays of the Sun.
Ivaylovgrad Municipality, South-Eastern Region of Bulgaria (about 6000 citizens)
In smaller cities such as ours, civil energy is both diffuse and dispersed. Therefore, even the most valuable civic initiatives (in our case: the rise of xenophobia, exclusion of minority groups, human rights violation, school drop-outs, etc.) often fail to accumulate strong enough public support to bring them to successful results. The civil energy is scattered in dozens of parallel campaigns in various public spheres. Thus, the resources of experience, professionalism, connections, and public support are often wasted. Our idea is to organize a flexible Civil Network that focuses the energy of the community in order strengthen the immune system of our civil society and contribute to the empowerment of citizens and social cohesion.
Currently, many NGOs work for a dozen of important causes: maternal and child health, ecology, disabilities, education, arts, etc. But the NGOs in small towns cannot afford large teams of experts. That is why they meet difficulties trying to organize and conduct long-term successful advocacy campaigns for their causes. Thus, the initial public enthusiasm soon fades out until it completely subsides. As a result the civil society loses faith in its own capacity. Our idea is to focus the scarce civic resources of money, experts, supporters and volunteers. So, instead of running 5 failed campaigns at the same time, we could run 5 successful advocacy campaigns in a row. This will contribute to the development of democratic culture of inclusion and participation.
The target groups of the project include the most vulnerable members of our community, who suffer from the fragmentation and narrow profiling of the civil sector, that disperses the focus of the civil energy and hinders the successful protection of the interests of the most vulnerable social groups: people with disabilities; young children and mothers; representatives of marginalized groups; ethnic and religious minorities, etc. (hundreds in our municipality).
Implementing this project we will be able to protect our community in the same way that Archimedes' mirrors saved Syracuse.
We plan the following steps: 1) Conducting an public awareness campaign (throughout the whole project period); 2) Building a Civil network (at least 10 NGO representatives); 3) Setting up priorities and preparing advocacy plans; 4) Motivation and training of community supporters (about 100 people); 5) Conducting advocacy campaigns in a row, one after the other (focused on at least 3 issues); 6) Dissemination of the results, sharing of experience, and multiplication of the sustainable model.
If our idea is supported, in a year from now we will have a built civil network that focuses on the dispersed civic energy in order to solve certain social problems. We believe that through this model during the time of project implementation we will be able to bring to a final solution at least 3 important public issues that require decision-making by local authority bodies. Our goal is to involve actively about 10 NGOs and about 100 volunteers in the network. Our media campaign aims at reaching at least 1,000 people.
There is a current trend of civil society fragmentation all over Europe. At the same time, there is a spread of neo-nationalist ideologies, which openly exclude many minorities and marginalized groups from the multitude of those citizens who have the right to participate in the public debate.
Through this project, we are trying to promote the exact opposite notion: all citizens have the legitimate right to participate in the protection of the common good, regardless of whether they are directly affected or not by the specific issue that harms the common interest. If the hull of the boat is drilled, it affects all of us, not just those under whom the hole is.
Our city is proud of its prominent civil activists in the fields of ecology, minority rights, education, arts, disabilities, etc. They all have built their own groups of volunteers and supporters around them. Although their causes do not usually compete with each other, the local NGOs and their leaders are jealous and suspicious when "their" volunteers and supporters get involved in the causes of other civil “teams”.
We believe that civil society has better chances for development when it is united to defend the common good. That is why via this project we aim at promoting culture of cooperation and building a network structure that is capable to focus the civil power like the mirrors of Archimedes focus the rays of the Sun.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Public awareness campaign – 3 800 EUR
Organization and maintenance of the Civil Network – 5 600 EUR
Campaign for motivation and training of supporters – 8 200 EUR
Advocacy campaigns – 12 400 EUR
Conducting a campaign to disseminate the results – 2 600 EUR
Office expenses for 12 months – 1 200 EUR
Travel – 420 EUR
(We will cover the amount of 4220 EUR through individual donations from our local partners and sponsors)
Dear colleagues from the Civic Europe online community, have you noticed the trend civil society organizations to behave like religious sects, keeping themselves in their own ideological bubbles and losing the vital ability for dialogue and cooperation? How do we cope with this ongoing trend?