From January 2011 Education Development Center (EDC) has started impementation of the project „Grassroots Europe for Local Wellbeng”, funded by the Education Support Programme (Open Society Foundations) and the „Europe for Citizens” Programme (European Commission). The initiative seeks to involve European community-based grassroots organisations in EU policy debates. Duration of the Project: 1 January -31 December 2011.
The Grassroots Europe for Local Wellbeing project gives citizens from 5 countries the opportunity to interact among themselves, with policy-makers, civil society organization at the local, national and EU level. At the local level it pursues a community-based, participatory approach and seeks to involve a diverse array of grassroots organisations that work towards promoting soft factors for local development (culture, creativity, and innovation of citizens) and fostering local wellbeing. By convening ordinary citizens of diverse social and professional backgrounds, paying particular attention to the perspectives of disenfranchised categories, the project aims to enable those local voices not typically heard to become a part of the Europe 2020 policy discussions, ensuring valuable interaction between EU decision makers and those directly affected by EU policies.
This project is developed and implemented through the cooperation of a number of partner organizations, coming from 5 countries, namely: Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia and Romania. The project sees community level civic activism and the bringing of local voices in EU level policy debates as a transnational challenge within the EU, one that can benefit from comparing different national points of view, by giving the floor directly to persons from different national backgrounds. Ultimately, by benchmarking of successful community based grassroots models for local wellbeing generation, and capturing performance and progress in viable policy recommendations for the local, regional, national and European Europe 2020 process, we believe that expertise and good practice can be shared with others across Europe.
The main expected outcomes:
- Increased capacity of participating grassroots organisations through their direct contribution to policy debates and the development of models to foster local wellbeing through community participation.
- The development of close professional ties among engaged citizens in Europe, enabling ongoing learning and exchange, sharing of community best practices, and the development of a common voice in educational policy debates.
- Bringing the exceptional role played by community-based grassroots organisations into the policy debate.
In Europe about 15% of public welfare services (including education interventions such as the desegregation of Roma education, for example) are delivered by civil society organizations. In addition, the EU currently provides two thirds of all global aid, and EU civil society is becoming increasingly involved in program delivery in developing countries. The involvement of European civil society as delivery agents of public services and their potential to influence priorities is a crucial shift in national and international development practice that OSI should better understand.
The Grassroots Europe for Local Wellbeing Initiative aims to further OSI’s understanding of the new public sector agency by engaging with key partners to address the issues linked to the rise of service delivery civil society. We aim to enable community-based educational grassroots organizations that are focused on local community development to benefit from formal opportunities to engage with each other, take part in the EU funding system, and to influence the direction of policies they are increasingly responsible for implementing
- As part of the initiative, a number of events are planned for 2011 including:
- 4 strategic coordination meetings for project leaders from the five participating countries.
- 22 local and national grassroots events in the five participating countries
- An International Grassroots Conference, to be held October 14-16, 2011, in Budapest, Hungary. The conference will allow grassroots organizations from diverse countries to share experiences and knowledge of policymaking through participatory democracy and the promotion of soft factors (education, culture, creativity and innovation of culture) in the development of wellbeing.
- A Brussels-based policy briefing and initiative evaluation session will put forward the views of the grassroots organizations to the EU policy community.
Also, a series of policy studies and analyses will be undertaken on the role played by community-based grassroots organizations in establishing principles of participatory democracy and fostering local wellbeing.
Project Events in Latvia
- National workshop for grassroots representatives from all regions to share grassroots experience and to identify common ideas related to relevant European Policy issues and to build up a network for common grassroots activities - February 27 – 28
- Five regional grassroots workshops on grassroots impact for soft factors in local development (culture, creativity and innovation of citizens) and fostering local wellbeing - March 14, 21, 28, April 4 and 11
- Grassroots policy workshop on informing the Europe 2020 process about the voices of community based workshop organisations working towards fostering local wellbeing through promoting soft factors in local development – May 9.
- The following publications will be undertaken during the project:
- Literature review of grassroots and volunteerism in Europe
- Policy analysis on the Europe 2020 process
- National publications- case studies as a result of the local grassroots meetings
- Joint volume on the topics of Grassroots in Europe for Wellbeing - five country experiences
Open Society Foundations (Hungary)
Interkulturelles Zentrum (Austria)
Agora (Czech Republic)
Education Development Center (Latvia)
Public Policy Centre (Romania)
For more information about poject in Latvia contact Aija Tuna at firstname.lastname@example.org