Millions of Europeans know that Europe has to change, but we don’t collectively know how to do it, or even how to talk about it. As politics moves beyond the nation state, we need to invent new forms of activism and this includes new narratives to describe our objectives and actions. The School will provide Europeans with the skills, ideas and vocabularies to bring transformation to Europe. We will organise online & offline workshops to frame narratives and use those to enable collective action.
Nomadically, across Europe (1 in Western Europe, and 1 in Central and Eastern Europe) and online
European democracy is still in its adolescent stage. Too much of our recent European politics have been divisive and based on fear and we are all part of communities in need of hope. Hateful narratives are threatening the conditions of a mature, European democracy and need to be addressed collectively. The School is both reflective and action-oriented, a digital and physical space supporting activists throughout Europe, and across disciplines, with the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary to understand and craft value-based narratives for the transformation of European democracy. The knowledge and practice of doing it can be translated into creative civic projects and serve to inspire civil society initiatives to strategically communicate for an open and solidary Europe.
Through the training series, one year from now, we have connected and trained a first cohort of transnational activists who understand what many of European citizens’ fears are, in different contexts, and how those are expressed. They have learnt how to develop stories that inspire people to support a range of innovations and actions for the transformation of democracy. The participants have ideally initiated civic actions drawing on those narratives and started proposing and demanding new forms of democratic practices that support social cohesion, within and outside institutions. Their ideas are used by other civil society initiatives and influential civic and political actors.
The participants will engage on a one-year learning journey;
1) In November 2018, the learners begin their journey by taking part in an online course on hate speech, how it signifies what is going wrong with our democracy, and by giving them the space to critically engage with narratives on human rights and democracy.
2) From January 2019, they engage in a cycle of two 3-day workshops where they dive deeper into alternative narratives and develop leadership skills to promote a purposeful, transnational democracy and design civic actions.
3) From Spring 2019, they will be provided with the seed funding to implement the actions.
4) In October 2019, at EA’s TRANSEUROPA Festival, the participants will present the outcomes of the training cycle and their ideas for collective actions.
European Alternatives was founded in 2007 in London to respond to the rise of nationalism and to the increasing need of transnational civic actions. Together with citizens across Europe we have been co-creating a forward-looking vision of a democratic European future. Today, European current democracy continues to ignore the contemporary problems of its citizens. Its leaders bring forward policy proposals, often behind closed doors, aimed at strengthening the political system that create and reproduces social and economic inequalities. Illiberalism’s track record in recent years shows that we need to reprogram our European democracy. For this, we need activists able to explain why democracy is still a valid system for Europe and what it needs to better serve and engage its citizens.
1) The learners are citizens who are already active in their communities, who feel that democracy is under threat, who need the space and time to develop political narratives and explore the leadership skills needed to translate them to wider constituencies. We are keen on enabling the participation of people from ethnic minorities, LGBTQI+ communities, or who identify with disadvantaged economic classes.
2) The beneficiaries are citizens and civil society initiatives needing positive stories about our collective democratic future to communicate and organise more effectively and create the conditions for the transformation of European democracy. It should inspire local and regional organisations less involved on the European level to commit and engage in this process.
Four aspects of our project are particularly innovative:
1) Our uniquely transnational approach and experience, which turns European diversity into a motor for collective action and imagination rather than an hindrance
2) EA not only crosses territorial boundaries but disciplinary ones as well, systematically working with artists, researchers, policy specialist and activists to create powerful civic actions touching diverse audiences
3) An emphasis on action and activism, with participants empowered to take civic action themselves, and we will allow them to decide together on the use of a budget for actions as part of the School
4) A supporting organisation, EA, which provides the structural backbone for activist efforts to succeed both inside and outside the European institutions.
Funding requested from Advocate Europe
1) Personnel costs 15000 EUR 2) Travel and subsistence costs 25000 EUR. The offline encounters are key to boost the sense of belonging to the group and the cooperation between participants. 3) Fees and sub-granting 15000 EUR. High quality facilitation and excellent participants stewardship is key to fuel participants' civic courage. 4) Communications 4000 EUR. A dedicated website and social media strategy is vital to document the journey of the School participants.
We’d be happy to get feedback from the community, about what they think Europe needs to be transformed and serve the needs of its citizens and non-citizens. We welcome also any lively exchange in terms of methodologies and strategies on how to get there.