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Idea Challenge  |  Winners 2020

Change starts locally – Impact from the 2020 Idea Challenge

We look back at the project implementation journey and the impact of our 2020 Idea Challenge winners.
on April 1, 2022

Credits: Emil Metodiev - Roma Voice 2020

Civic participation is a precondition for open and functioning civic spaces

Civic Europe believes that civic participation is a precondition for more inclusive, open, and functioning societies. Unfortunately, many countries in Europe are experiencing negative trends in maintaining healthy civic spaces and upholding European values such as equality, justice, human dignity, and democracy – to name only a few. As civic spaces are shrinking in urban areas, non-urban areas in Europe have always faced challenges in engaging their communities in active citizenship and maintaining healthy civic spaces. Civil society organizations and initiatives in rural areas or the peripheries of urban centers often lack the resources, network, and knowledge to maintain and foster civic life as also shown in the recently published report Mapping 'civic deserts' (2022).

In order to revive civic life in local communities, Civic Europe launched its Idea Challenge call. In fall of 2020, the first winners of the Idea Challenge were selected to implement their project ideas in their local communities. For over a year, Civic Europe provided financial support and offered a collaborative environment where the winners could develop and share their ideas, skills, and capacities to tackle local societal challenges and achieve long-term change.

Reviving civic spaces while working on diverse challenges

Credits: Islands of Hope

By Islands of Hope

The project ideas for the Idea Challenge could be submitted from 12 European countries and needed to be implemented in regions with low civic cohesion. Since the Idea Challenge covered a wide geographical range, the winning project's ideas were not limited to one topic but covered a wide range of topics such as sustainability, human rights, social inclusion, democracy, rule of law, and youth empowerment. Even if the topics and challenges were different, all winning projects worked on tackling local challenges in their community while developing citizens' competencies to participate in civic life and become active agents of change.

Credits: Quarteira Decides

By Quarteira Decides

Projects such as Quarteira Decides (Portugal) and Sicilian Democracy Funds: let’s spend the unspent! (Italy) used participatory budgeting to engage their citizens in becoming active decision-makers in their communities. Others such as Everybody Needs SomeBuddy (Czech Republic) and Roma Voice 2021 (Bulgaria) had projects with a strong focus on advocacy, integration, and inclusion of the most marginalized and vulnerable in their communities. And projects such as PEACEBUILDERS of LESVOS (Greece) and HumanBodyText (Hungary) empowered youth to become active citizens by introducing them to creative tools such as creating zines and podcasting, social media creation, and journalism.

Fostering civic engagement during the pandemic

Everybody needs somebudy.png

By Everybody Needs SomeBuddy

The Covid-19 pandemic posed unexpected challenges in the project implementation of our Idea Challenge winners. Businesses closed their doors, employers and governments required us to stay at home. The national lockdowns and safety regulations made it more difficult for civil society organizations to bring people together. Most winning projects questioned how to revive civic life while being bound to their four walls. Nevertheless, the Idea Challenge winners demonstrated their resilience, creativity, and determination to find ways to continue their project in the best possible way.

Credits: Tęczowy Tarnów

By Trailblazers: Local LGBT+ Activists and Allies (Tęczowy Tarnów)

Projects such as From eartH to Heart (Italy) and Generation Bridge (Bulgaria) got familiar with new technologies such as broadcasting methods to ensure that participants could still participate in their activities from home. Other projects such as Organizing for Power (Romania) cancelled their big events and instead organized smaller but more regular gatherings. Also, the participants of Trailblazers: Local LGBT+ Activists and Allies (Poland) admitted that if the program would not be online, they would most likely not participate due to the traveling time and other professional duties.

Learn more about the 2020 Idea Challenge winners

We’ve only shared a glimpse of what our winning projects have been up to. All have proven that reviving civic life beyond the urban capitals is possible, even during a pandemic. Are you interested in learning more about the winning project ideas and their project implementation journey? You can check out the winning project ideas here.