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THE RIGHT TO THE VILLAGE - retaking rural commons | Civic Europe
Community development

THE RIGHT TO THE VILLAGE - retaking rural commons

Employing the potential of artivism, action research and creative communication to redefine democratic rights and participation in rural areas and embrace the first THE RIGHT TO THE VILLAGE CHART


Who is behind this?

Zornitsa Bazlyankova

Ideas Factory Association


Who is joining forces?

Vidin Chitalishta Fund


Municipality Vratsa


Chitalishte Podgumer


We'd also like to add a 4th partner: Name: "Ongal" Association of Anthropology, Ethnology and Folklore Studies Website: Country: Bulgaria


Idea pitch

Are social rights territory and age determined? Oh, yes-they are! What if just representation in economy, politics and media was the norm for those living outside big cities? Join us on a ride called “THE RIGHT TO THE VILLAGE” - a shared vision of the rural future as a result of participative intergenerational field work that connects artivists, interdisciplinary gang and local communities in process of cocreation in the first nationwide advocacy campaign questioning the “norm” in rural areas.

Where will your project idea take place?

16 villages in 6 municipalities of Bulgaria - Vidin, Vratsa, Laki, Gotse Delchev, Karlovo and Sofia.

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

Our project will take place in 6 rural municipalities, in villages where our Baba Residence network is active the last 6 years. Although diverse in terms of geography, culture and religion all of them face similar challenges stemming from depopulation and isolation.
The territorial and geographic imbalances, lack of social cohesion and strategies for rural welfare related to intergenerational equilibrium are making the rural disparities in accessibility and mobility transition a precondition for isolation and higher risk of poverty. The population in rural areas is ageing thus - underrepresented - in media, politics, civil society, education and culture.

Who are you doing it for?

For the underrepresented elderly in depopulating rural areas and in the 16 villages where we’ve been working
The few young people in villages whose needs need to be heard and reflected.
For both groups territory and age determine underrepresentation: they are unheard and decisions are taken for them without them
Artivists, who will stay in local homes researching, summarizing the results of the World cafes and transferring them to wider public.
Anyone already living in a village or willing to live. The CHART will be open for codevelopment on an European level in coalition with similar initiatives to become an open sourcе.
Elderly often don’t have access to digital devices, which might democratize the information flow. They are among the poorest groups in the EU.

How do you plan to get there?

Our approach is holistic, participatory, intergenerational and interdisciplinary.To implement our idea we’ll:
1.Perform World Cafe’s discussions in all 16 villages to identify needs, resources & challenges;
2.Develop an online platform to map needs & resources in villages encouraging volunteering.
3.Host teams of artists and experts in 6 of the villages to do an in-depth action research and create “a story”(artistic representation of findings)of the villages as they are;
4.Perform nationwide research to identify trends and back findings;
5.World Cafe involving all stakeholders into cocreating a shared Vision of the Bulgarian Village/VillageShip passport with quality of life standards;
6. Design and run advocacy campaign based on the artistic outputs, research insights,vision.

What are the expected results?

We would like to see the Bulgarian village represented, active, aware of and renowned for its potential as a place to live in. More specifically, as a result from our program we plan to achieve:
Greater visibility of the villages with their needs, resources and potential;
Awareness towards the question of rights and quality of life in the villages and its prioritization in state policy;
Better understanding of the democratic deficits of rural inhabitants and stronger demands towards their accomplishment;
Solidarity mechanisms and ecosystem in place to foster cooperation between the city and the village, different generations, villages, groups of people within a village;
Improved opportunities for young people to move from the city to the village.

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

For 6 years of field work with communities, it got clear that the roots of most challenges faced by the locals lie in underrepresentation and suppression of main freedoms-under 360 inhabitants villages aren’t allowed to vote for mayor(but do for EU parliament), don’t make decisions affecting directly their lives which allows corruption and poverty to fluorish. Buying votes is a norm - rooted in high poverty levels.Bulgaria has the fastest depopulating rural areas in the EU.We’ve seen voluntary actions are needed but with limited impact on the main challenge - the unjust spread of resources affecting the rural communities.This is why the creation of the 1st national rural advocacy campaign is the bold step needed to make a real shift towards vibrant, sustainable, emancipated communities.

Why is this idea important to you?

We’ve been working with villages for 6 years, and realized that we need to act much bolder if we want them to be vivid places, sanctuaries of local knowledge and skills. Trough our Baba Residence program we met similar problems countrywide but never had the ressources to fight the discrimination towards villages and their impoverished communities. We know that large-scale advocacy is the way forward, and that it’s urgently needed.
Villages in our history have been a home of autonomous thinking, but now, or even because of that, they are consecutively misused by the governance only to generate votes or agricultural production. Village inhabitants deserve a better existence - even excluding the economic aspect, but at least basic rights such as healthcare, mobility, clean water or voting.

€ 63000,-

Total budget

€ 46000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Administrative expenses and management costs: 15,000 EUR
Office expenses 5,000 EUR
Travel and accommodation: 4,000 EUR
Мoderation and organization оf World Cafe discussions - 3,000 EUR
Interdisciplinary report by team of experts and researchers: 10,000 EUR
Nationwide sociological research 7,000 EUR
Advocacy campaign and communication: PR /Informational campaign (events, materials, publications): 9,000 EUR
Artistic production costs: 5,000 EUR
Online platform development: 5,000 EUR

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We’d be interested in receiving feedback on existing practices in other countries and the potential for replication/scalability of the model proposed by us in other places.




Idea created on May 27, 2020
Last edit on May 27, 2020

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