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Before Your Eyes | Civic Europe
Community development, Youth participation and empowerment

Before Your Eyes

Before Your Eyes - something so obvious, in front of one's nose that it becomes invisible. Before - before obvious (ob=before; via=path). We found it on a path that could not be avoided.


Who is behind this?

Boris Bakal

Shadow Casters - Bacači Sjenki


Who is joining forces?

Local Democracy Agency Sisak (LDA Sisak)


Blend of experience: Shadow Casters: relational art methodology, participatory and community art practice; LDA Sisak: local youth and volunteer policy implementation.


Idea pitch

Even 118 days after the devastating earthquake, the situation in Sisak is still critical. Volunteers have left their homes; the media is not interested in the post-crisis situation. The government has proposed a National Recovery Plan, but citizens are not informed on the process, many have decided to leave the town.
We want to confront active youth with inactive ones from the town of Sisak and nearby villages to work together and to influence decisions that are related to their lives.

Where will your project idea take place?

Sisak, Sisak-Moslavina County, Croatia

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

The incompetence of state authorities in the crisis after the earthquake showed that citizens trust and can trust more self-organized citizens and NGOs than the institutions. A successful dialogue and communal practice between NGOs and citizens, mainly active youth/volunteers, was launched after the earthquake as a responsible crisis intervention. To keep up with the momentum, our challenge is to practice youth participation and democratic decision making through creative participatory processes and to include active and inactive youth in the process; The Case study will be the future Community Center Sisak (CCS); different participatory governance models will be tested, placing young people in various management positions within CCS (simulation of civic-public partnership).

Who are you doing it for?

Our target is a group of selected 20 young people (15-29) from the town of Sisak and its neighboring areas/villages, including active and non-active youth. Young people are severely traumatized due to earthquakes on top of the pandemic, recession, lack of job opportunities and strong distrust among the political elites and citizens and ethnic divisions. Some young people lost their homes and are afraid for their future. The majority still lack sufficient social and civic competencies related to democracy, advocating, responsibility and decision making due to continuous societal/political efforts to keep them incompetent and excluded in these regards. They are easily controlled and manipulated by media or political elites due to a lack of critical thinking skills and self-consciousness.

How do you plan to get there?

We strongly believe that the ability to open new dialogues among confronted youth should be done over a theme that brings them naturally together and offers both sides a physical and intellectual journey.
This is how we see the journey:
1. Identifying inactive youth in Sisak through “Open offices” - used to initiate dialogue in a public space between citizens, questioning and juxtaposing different ideas/feelings/attitudes
2. Publishing an open Call for participation
3. Exploring the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Sisak community
Reading the damaged/old industrial/ historical buildings and their layers of narratives, publishing selected ones on Wikipedia.
4. Community Centre Sisak/Youth perspective
We will use an innovative Community Constellations Model (CCM) to explore the contrasting needs and interests concerning different scenarios of CCS structure and youth activities creatively simulating a real democratic process. Discussions will be as inclusive, cooperative, and symmetrical as possible. Model interrelates different performative methods, system constellations and participatory citizen movements decision-making praxis.
5. Youth Point of View
Youth proposals on CCS activities will be presented through VJ mapping on 3D surfaces as a community event which will enable multi-stakeholder discussions and advocating for proposals.

What are the expected results?

Participants as a team apply what they have learned; they organize guided walks for other citizens and show the newly discovered urban narrative and layers of the town in their creative way. Stronger connections with the community will be developed, but as well as social skills, self-awareness, empathy and responsibility - towards each other and the community. The same set of skills is related to defining the activities of future CCS. Participants will recognize the need to share their vision of the Centre with citizens to further foster democratic processes (using methods like open offices). Work on Wikipedia requires considering multiple points of view on particular information and finding credible data sources for these views. This exercise will improve their critical thinking skills.

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

Our work suggests an innovative practice that integrates activism, urbanism and related local narratives, film, theatre, visual arts, psychology, and play. By creating fun and exciting situations, we move youngsters out of their everyday social roles, opening them for exchange and change. To enable participants to better understand their needs, rights, and possibilities, we will shift them into the positions of different stakeholders of future CCS. Various sets of rules will make discussions as inclusive, cooperative, and symmetrical as possible. Through a maieutic pedagogical approach (invited to interact, raising curiosity, asking questions), participants are empowered to become more active members . Active and united youth can preserve democracy and overcome the post-earthquake crisis.

Why is this idea important to you?

Previously confronted youngsters work as a creative team, they develop and implement their ideas, they lean on support from LDA Sisak, participate in LDA activities, they collaborate with Shadow Casters in artistic and media literacy programs. They will be involved in reconstruction-related decisions. A specific step beyond the project is to organize a public performance on defining youth activities of the Community Centre Sisak with Local Authorities and other stakeholders to further test the approach and practice their skills. The whole process will be filmed by young participants of Shadow Casters Frooom! film school from Zagreb, to document the process for future generations and educational purposes, such as work with future participants.

€ 40700,-

Total budget

€ 35000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

External services (artists/leaders of the workshops): 15.500 EUR
Equipment (didactic equipment end rent) 900 EUR
Travel expenses 1.500 EUR
Lunch and refreshment 5.000 EUR
Personnel costs (salaries) 12.800 EUR

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

Thank you for all your critical questions, ideas and interests. Also, we’d like to use this opportunity to invite other organizations willing to help the Sisak-Moslavina County in its post-earthquake recovery, either financially or through organized activities for either organizations or citizens.


Bacaci Sjenki


Idea created on April 24, 2021
Last edit on April 26, 2021

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