Democracy and participation, Civic education, Our approach is based on the methodologies of action learning, learning from experience and building communities of learning and communities of practice. Thus, we will also contribute to community development.

The Orion Grid Action Learning Space

We specialise in dissent

Creators

Who is behind this?

Milena Stateva

Orion Grid for Leadership and Authority Association

http://www.orion-grid.org

Bulgaria

Idea

Idea pitch

The social and political imagery is in a decline, people are lacking the conceptional and the methodological tools to become the best they can be and to change their societies. The Orion Grid Action Learning Space aims to fill this gap in by offering state of the art theory and cutting edge praxis opportunities for learning. The aim is to equip activists and other change agents to make a difference for themselves and their communities and societies.

Where will your project idea take place?

The iniatiave works online and invites wanabe as well as active activists from all over Bulgaria.

What is the local challenge?

Bulgaria is challenged by the lack of quality social and political education. Official curriculum does not cover the basics of social and political theory, let alone postmodern developments of critical theory that follow the rise of authoritarianism and totalitarianism of the XX century. The lack of social and political educations results in ad hoc activism which consequently lacks potency and staying power. As a result political pressure is mostly right wing and reactionary, based on instinctual theories about how the social and political world must be. Without the foundations provided by modern political theory, conspiracy theories and nationalistic interpretations dominate public opinion on social matters. Educated influencers and activists lack the tools to intervene

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

We have spent more than 6 years to educate activists both one-on-one and in groups on base social and political education. We open spaces for study groups that explore themselves, their activities as well as the wider society, helping incubate new activites, actions, groups, movements and organizations. The courses we foresee are:
1. Social and political thought
2. Feminist epistemologies
3. Group facilitation and change interventions
4. Social ecology and communalism
5. Cultural heritage and community building
6. Introduction to whistleblowing.
All courses involve translation and reading of classical and postmodern text in psychodynamically facilitated small groups of up to 15 people, as well as a design and group intervision of projects and initiatives by the participants.

Who are you doing it for?

The project will benefit current and aspiring leaders, activists with a special focus on feminists, Roma, refugees, LGBTIQ+, professionals in fields at high risk for corruption. The focus is especially on young people 16-40 y/o. Special attention will be paid to intersectional issues along with issues of sex, gender, disability, ethnicity and other factors affecting vulnerable groups. The courses will build on a core of about 40 people we are already working with, to build these groups into communities and to strengthen existing ones. The groups will be designed as fractals of our society and the voice of everyone will be ensured by group dynamics facilitation by trained facilitators. Periodic tests and final assignments will give members the opportunity to express their views and analyses

How do you plan to get there?

1. Preparatory stage
1.1. Design of courses and reading lists
1.2. Translation of readings and relevant video and audio materials
1.3. Outreach
1.4. Recruitment of members and partnerships agreements (e.g. for recruitment, for venues, etc)
1.5. Development of assessment strategy for members
1.6. Development of indicators to evaluate
1.7. Registration an acredited training centre

2. For each course
2.1. Kick off in person
2.2. Rozuku content and timely upload of materials
2.3. 25 regular bi-weekly online meetings
2.4. 5 regular site visits streamed online
2.4. Regular homework
2.5. Members' assessment
2.6. Certification

3. Graduation
3.1. 2-week exibition and presentations of members’’ projects
3.2. Reception
3.3. Online repository with members’ projects

What are the expected results?

A year from now, there will be 6 learning communities of activists, human rights defenders, avantgarde artsists, whistleblowers and other carers of the democratic impulse. A success would be educating and engaging at least 60 active citizens equiped with knowledge and understanding of contemporary critical theory and its tools - action research, theorising, debating, acting, educating, agitating, critical writing, organising for change - in an informed, rigorous and educated manner. Their intereventions will be competent and targeted instead of ad hoc and intuitive, thus strengthening the social and political imagery and activism in Bulgaria as well as the impact of this work. These communities will be empowered through robust conceptual and methodological frameworks at their disposal.

How does your initiative contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe?

Countries in Central and Eastern Europe from the former socialist block are emerging as illiberal democracies thus undermining the EU democracy project. They serve as a pilot site for wider retrograde trends by demonstrating how strategies of suffocating dissent and critical thinking can be applied through restrictions on education, on access to knowledge and other resources. By applying action research methodologies and approaches for learning from experience, the Orion Grid Action Learning Space will be able to document strategies for innovation in doing democracy, in particular under conditions of scarce resources and a growing inequality. A crucial part of the project will be disseminating this learning in Bulgarian and in English thus making widely available our findings.

What is your story?

We are a platform for civil rights and activism providing spaces for thinking and understanding, writing and artistic activity. As a resource organisation we offer a wide range of aids based on rigorous and robust methodologies for actors who carry the democratic impulse. We are also an incubator of ideas, initiatives, projects and actions when our members strive to take up their role in the political domain with leadership and authority. Our collective experience as activists and human rights defenders for decades, as well as throughout working on the Orion Grid project, shows that the success of our work with groups and individuals depends on having such an opportunity to consolidate and intervene at the roots of the conceptual and methodological problems undermining our everyday work.

€ 25000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

€ 36770,-

Total budget

Major expenses

1. Preparatory stage:
personnel 12xEuros700 = Euros 8,400

2. For each course:
personnel 12xEuros 1,500 = Euros 18,000
Kick off venue Euros 250
Subscription Ruzuku 1 year = Euros 1,020

3. Graduation
personnel 12x500 = Euros 6,000
venue exhibition 2 weeks = Euros 1,500
reception 1200 people = Euros 1,500
Online repository on our website = Euros 300

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

Any feedback and comments will be most welcome, in particular with a view of risks and risk mitigation, social and political challenges as well as what areas we should especially focus in each of the courses and the implementation of the project as a whole.

Team

oriongrid

Idea created on May 27, 2020

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