In times when solutions for societal challenges have to be continuously re-thought and reinvented, pragmatic visionaries, shapers and creators come together from the midst of an engaged European and global civil society to effect social change. People who in doing chose to see what’s wrong in the world and decide to build liveable futures.
Found and supported by the Advocate Europe idea challenge, a combined digital open innovation process and civil society project incubator, these people co-create a “Europe of possibility”: spaces and approaches that allow us to listen to each other, celebrate and live through the messiness of our diversity, as well as to experience dialogue and cooperation in the midst of this volatile, often harsh world. Handmade and crafted by a passionate civil society, largely unnoticed by the eyes and ears of mainstream public conversation or policy-making, this is the combined work of dozens of heads, hearts and hands.
Words and images are not big enough to express the human connections made and life realities changed over several years. So you may look at this, dear reader, as a journal in which you can glimpse parts of our work. We hope that it inspires and supports you in standing up for a connected Europe.
Since we have started the idea challenge, we have tirelessly been seeking new ways of effectively supporting civil society in the areas of what we believe are the values at the foundation of Europe: democracy, inclusion, participation, freedom. Over the years, we went on a ride with hundreds of engaged citizens, helping them to tackle the issues that they most cared for during the last five years: welcoming newcomers, re-thinking urban participation, questioning the status-quo with art, re-inventing democracy using technology or creating a basis for meaningful conversations.
As a growing community of more than 300 engaged Europeans, our network of Alumni and partners is committed to a democratic and inclusive Europe and ready to stand up for that vision. This is how.
Hate Free Cities is connecting youth organisations from four cities – Brno (Czech Republic), Herceg Novi (Montenegro), Łódź (Poland) and Tbilisi (Georgia) – to bring about cities without hate. Training students, young activists, video artists, experts and media to recognise xenophobic expressions, the project raises awareness of the topic of hate speech in our public discourse.
RISE is a network that represents the authentic voices of refugees and migrants through campaigns and adovacy. RISE aims to reveal refugee and migrant communities not only as beneficiaries of social services, but also as contributors with the expertise to facilitate their own inclusion. The initiative sets out to involve refugee communities from across Europe in national and EU policies that directly affect them through consultations and stakeholder workshops.
The European Civics Academy is a project by The Good Lobby to empower you, as a citizen, to advocate for social change in and beyond your community. Whether you’re a student, professional, activist, or merely a concerned citizen, in one day the school provides you with hands-on understanding of the various channels of participation so as to make your voice heard. Corporations lobby public institutions out of self-interest, yet citizens could do the same for the public good!
JobAct Europe Partner Program (JEPP) spread JobAct® on a European level as an effective tool against unemployment and social exclusion. Through the innovative combination of theatre, social work and career guidance in international teams, the project enables individuals in different countries to face the complex demands of today’s work environment.
We all have democratic muscles! But like muscles in general our democratic muscles require training to prevent them from becoming weak – risking weakening the entire democratic body of Europe. Democracy Fitness is a simple, active and motivating training. Each training session takes 30 minutes and focuses on one muscle – e.g., the empathy muscle or the disagreement muscle. In different European locations we will meet to identify the most important democratic muscles, develop workouts and train a strong network of democracy fitness trainers. After that we will all be fit to spread the training program to our own neighbourhood, co-workers or any context we can think of.
The mission of Migration Matters is to empower the public to have more nuanced and evidence-based conversations about migration. The project team produces bite-sized video courses that challenge commonly-held preconceptions by presenting original ideas, research, and solutions-oriented perspectives from researchers, practitioners, and migrants and refugees themselves.
Populism poisons the minds of youngsters with fear and untruth and undermines our democracy. Teachers try to cure it by preaching history books to digital natives. EscapeFake thinks teens need to experience education as an engaging experience, so together with school kids aged 12–18 they co-designed and developped an interactive augmented reality escape room app that can be downloaded for free, played everywhere and used in workshops all over Europe and beyond. Read, check facts, research, solve riddles and escape the fake.
Give an access to the best Massive Open Online Courses from European universities for Ukrainian citizens by localizing and adopting them to be suitable for Ukrainian auditory.
Building bridges between municipalities, civil society and the private sector to tackle the energy transition, the Growth Initiative fosters cooperation between European cities which are experiencing similar structural problems. In the unusual pairing of Bottrop (Germany) and Thessaloniki (Greece), the project is aiming for sustainable, citizen-friendly growth that lowers unemployment, protects the environment and improves labour relations.
Transcending borders and connecting people through culture is the mission of this project in Ukraine – a country divided by politics and war, and caught between East and West. Acquiring new perspectives and having the chance to exchange with those who hold different views is crucial for dialogue building in Europe. Through Transcending Borders, more than 90 local cultural events connected activists, artists and citizens from Ukraine with visitors from all over Europe.
FUTURE DOCS is a platform for creative encounters between documentary filmmakers and human rights defenders who wish to jointly explore the human rights stories that are not told in Europe today. By bringing together filmmakers and activists, the project forges unusual partnerships that foster connection in Europe.
Refugees Welcome is a platform that was founded in November 2014 to connect refugees with locals who are willing to share their living space. This can be in form of traditional flat-sharing arrangements, in a family context, with a single parent, or with a single person who has extra space available in their home. Over the past 3 years the team has built an international network that is now operating in 13 European countries, as well as Australia and Canada.
A transnational team helps refugees in the Ruhr area of Germany to find their position in the public sphere, and to raise their self-worth through the physical renovation of empty buildings. Accompanied by research and fostering links to political decision making, Refugees for Co-Creative Cities collects examples of workable solutions for inclusive housing and better integration. An empty high-rise building at the central station in Oberhausen was upgraded with the help of refugees.
Lost & Found is a documentary in development and an interactive website about the personal objects lost by refugees travelling to and through Europe, and, more importantly, about their owners’ stories. These letters, pictures, and children’s toys are often all that is left of the owners’ dangerous journeys – and sometimes of their lives. The film focuses on the search for these men, women and children in order to return their lost possession to them.
One century after the rise of the 'suffragettes' and following the #Metoo movement, we propose an empowerment project to inspire and better connect women across Europe. The three-fold venture will have digital, public and political impact: the online publication of interviews with engaged women in 15 countries to document women's condition today; the organization of four public “agoras” in Warsaw, Paris, Berlin and Athens to discuss the diversity of issues European women are confronted with; the elaboration of a list of proposals that will be submitted to the European Parliament.
The Agora Project is a temporary newsroom for 10 European journalists who are collaborating on stories about the biggest challenges facing Europe. The name of the project refers to the agoras of ancient Greece – central meeting places for debate – which the journalists aim to simulate with the stories they produce. Over the course of the project the journalists support each other’s research through meetings in Armenia and Sweden, and via a virtual newsroom. The stories, all of which touch on the subject of polarisation, are published in the journalists’ respective home countries, as well as collectively in an online dossier.
What moves young people who grew up behind the Iron Curtain? What hopes and fears do they have for their lives and for Europe? Exactly 25 years after the break-up of the Soviet Union, Beyond ‘91 fosters European dialogue by sending young journalists from seven countries – Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine – to report in cross-border, multimedia partnerships. The resulting stories, in seven languages, contribute to a multi-layered portrait of the ‘perestroika generation.’
A toolkit collecting experience and knowledge co-produced by refugees, refugee organisations shall unlock and showcase the vast potential of migrants. ROC21 is being piloted in a refugee shelter in the Neukölln area of Berlin. The project’s ultimate aim is to create a community space, envisioned by refugees and locals alike, which can be transferred to many places, spaces and countries, in Europe and beyond.
In a journey across Europe, Funding the Cooperative City highlights different economic strategies for realising civic spaces, including fundraising and investment, self-organisation, resistance, and cooperation with institutions. The resulting book explores the ways citizen initiatives, cooperatives, community land trusts, crowdfunding platforms, ethical banks and foundations have broken free of the regular logic of real estate development to access, purchase, renovate or construct buildings for communities.
Mapping and understanding communities in Europe that are divided by real or imaginary fences. Exploring the potential of photography, DeFence enables students, architects, cultural managers and scientists to design social interventions in partnership with universities and NGOs from across Europe. Through several workshops and a field trip in Sarajevo, a methodology was designed to create a project that benefits divided communities and serves as a model for future interventions.
Salon deRadika wants to get to the roots of the radical – to unpack its constructive and destructive dimensions. To do this, the project team is traveling across Europe with video portraits about politically radical Europeans and gathering people together for political meals and discussions. A website provides films, recipes and stimuli for discussion so that organisations anywhere can hold their own salons.
An online platform establishing a feedback mechanism between citizens and MEPs, Politix EU reports about EU laws in simple language and offers an entry point for understanding complicated EU decision-making processes. By mapping the perspectives of citizens, parliamentarians and lobbyists the project creates a transnational space for participatory dialogue. Politix EU already covers more than 70 EU laws, supplemented by nearly 300 positions from more than 100 lobbying organisations.
Building the first sustainable open source village: the POC21 camp brought together more than 100 makers, designers, engineers and scientists in Millemont (France) to prototype a fossil-free, zero-waste society. Through this six-week camp, POC21 sought to deliver the ‘proof of concept’ that a more sustainable future is possible. Two examples of the 12 prototypes produced by the international teams are the Showerloop, a shower minimising water and energy usage with a real-time water looping system, and Sunzilla, an easy-to-use and portable solar-powered generator.
In social media, populist parties have found the perfect platforms for their deliberate use of misinformation to disturb and emotionalize political debates. In this setting, fact-based discussions have become virtually impossible. To tackle this problem, TraceMap is developing an open-source web tool that will empower social media users to investigate and discuss online content and to debunk misinformation collectively.
How to make democracy in the EU more vibrant and give citizens direct voice in political processes? Elections to the European Parliament are important but not sufficient to ensure their views are heard. Nor can citizen’s initiatives and consultations bridge the increasing gap between Union citizens and institutions. DECIDe is developing a system of digital identity for registration as Union citizens and Random Sample Voting allowing all registered to vote on specific questions in EU politics in a rapid, cost-effective and secure way: A tool for enhancing citizens’ participation in EU decision-making.
The marine environment has a key role in the balance of different elements of our planet. But it is also a key factor in the social and economic prosperity of countless coastal communities, which is particularly evident in the Mediterranean and more specifically in the Aegean. Aegean Rebreath, through its activities, aspires to introduce a new culture according to which less waste will be produced by recycling and re-using marine waste on the basis of the principles of the circular economy. Our goal is to make the importance of the quality of the marine environment for ecosystems, climate, the economy and society widely understood.
The WeBudget project intents to introduce an educational program and a tool for engaging and empowering citizens, fostering their participation and improving decision-making in the local budget process in four European cities: Belgrade, Messina, Budapest, Zagreb. Starting from the local level with the aim to spread successful stories across Europe to foster further engagement in different countries, the project tackles relevant EU problems such as insufficient participatory mechanisms in decision-making and lack of transparency and political accountability.
Promote disabled sport in Armenia by creating a network of disabled sport clubs in different cities. These sport clubs are a major step towards the social inclusion of disabled persons in Armenia; they provide a means for disabled persons to become active in sport, as well as boost inter- connectivity with other disabled athletes