From Occupy to democratic renewal


Who is behind this?

Mary Fitzgerald


United Kingdom

Idea Sketch | Proposal


Idea pitch

We want to help European activists inspire lasting social and political change, by organising a set of encounters between leading social movement innovators and experts in mainstream politics. From these events, we’ll build a free resource on openDemocracy for vibrant civil society ideas and debate.

Where will your idea take place?

London, United Kingdom

Why does Europe need your idea?

Europe has no shortage of good ideas. The difficulty is empowering large numbers of people to take them up. openDemocracy is well-placed for this challenge: 5.5 million Europeans visited us last year, we have a strong social media presence and work with a number of European partners (listed below). We’ve carved out a niche in working with activist, academic and other experts to convey their ‘specialist’ ideas to a wider audience. Reader surveys confirm we’re read by a diverse mix of scholars, journalists, campaigners and policymakers from across the continent, so our platform is a place where strong ideas have a good chance to gain traction. This is an open-source pilot project that can be taken into different contexts and geographical locations. We’re keen to facilitate this.

What is your impact?

In a year, we will have built an online ‘hub’ of innovative ideas for civil society: 70-90 articles, plus podcasts, interviews and videos, which capture insights that can apply to civil society actors in different contexts and scales. Activists will come away with a set of tools to help them engage with the hierarchical structures of mainstream media, European political institutions and processes. Those from the media, academia and politics will come away with a better grasp of how ‘horizontal’ grassroots movements operate, their objectives and how to report on and engage with them accurately and imaginatively. All participants will have their assumptions challenged and refreshed, and their ideas made responsive to Twitter Q&A sessions from engaged European public(s).

How do you get there?

After the LSE event, we will commission 3 key follow-up debates on openDemocracy, expanding the network of contributors and building/gauging public interest with each new round. As we build this ‘living public archive’, we will identify 30 participants for a final 4-day pan-European Team Syntegrity event, to distil 12 practical recommendations for democratic renewal. Participants will be carefully chosen for their diverse contributions, with powerful people and the excluded, opinion formers and the ‘silent majority’ represented on an equal basis. The resulting proposals will be published in an e-book, and the entire project - the articles, podcasts and exchanges - will remain freely accessible on openDemocracy under a Creative Commons licence, for all to access, cite and build on.

What is your story?


Who are you doing it for?


What makes your idea stand apart?


€ 50000,-

Funding requested from Advocate Europe

€ 130000,-

Total budget

Major expenses


What do you need from the Advocate Europe community?

We are keen to work with a number of applicants to promote and advance their ideas on our website. Moreover we seek input from those with vision to design debate pages that involve more people in constructive debate, overcome language and many other barriers, to help us listen to each other.


Mary Fitzgerald

Idea created on April 13, 2015
Last edit on Oct. 30, 2017

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