Active Communities for Development Alternatives

Participants Share Experience within the Second Phase of the Project "Activating Communities through the Chitalishtes"

Monday, 03 December 2012

On November 30th, 2012 representatives of the teams of 31 local initiatives within Platform AGORA's project "Activating Communities through the Chitalishta in Bulgaria: second phase" gathered in Sofia for a two day meeting to share experience.


On the first day, the participants worked in groups formed around the thematic areas of the project: festivals, local philanthropy, citizens' rights, tourism, recreation, sport and leisure, nature and environment. During the group work, the participants discussed the problems they have faced in the process of their initiatives implementation, the solutions found, results achieved as well as the unresolved issues.

Among the common problems that surfaced in one or more thematic area were: unfulfilled commitments by partners, depopulation of small settlements and less youth, lack of initial experience in the teams for dealing with various situations. At the same time, the following achievement were pointed out: established relations with new partners, attracted more volunteers, successful fundraising campaigns, new skills in the civic teams, promotion of AGORA approach, ensured opportunities for development of youth in small settlements and last but not least – increased sense of community.

Three were the major issues identified by all project participants that were left unsolved: sustainability of the achieved through the initiatives, how to keep the achieved results, lack of support by the local authorities at some settlements.

The second seminar day solutions to the identified problems were sought or rather to those problems that were not resolved within the initiatives. Applying the model "World Café", the participants exchanged ideas on three levels – solution on local level, on the level of the thematic area and in a wider scope - within the framework of the whole project. Among the solutions the following stood out: establishment of partnerships outside the community, involvement of qualified experts or creation of such on local level, forming of a network of initiatives where resources of various type could be shared, promotion of initiatives outside the specific community, adoption of the initiatives by local authorities and integration into plans, strategies and other programs/documents for development.

The sustainability of the achieved and the application of AGORA approach were the major motives for continuation of the joint work of the Chitalishtes and Platform AGORA.

Within the seminar was also presented the Guide "Chitalishtes. Marketing. Communication” with author Mr. Galin Borodinov, a PR expert. As in the first guide from the series “Strength of the AGORA”, the focus is again on the “civic Chitalishte” – gathering all at one place and representing publicly diverse community groups. The second publication of the series aims at development of skills and knowledge on marketing of the settlements and how effectively to communicate.

Pictures from the event can be seen at the Gallery.


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