Anastasia is a literary critic by training and has 15 years of experience in the NGO sector. Since 2014 she has served as executive director of the NGO “Narodna Dopomoha Ukraine”. She is also the founder of the “FortelUA” project, which strives to increase the role of women in economic and public life, develop self-employment options and promote the artisan community in Ukraine.
Anastasia is the mother of a smart 9-year-old boy and a fan of yoga. She is drawn to theatre magic and enjoys writing brief articles about new performances in her spare time.
Historically, the community of Chernivtsi has had a multicultural and tolerant background. However, in recent decades this has changed through the impact of emigration and migration processes, a difficult economic and politic situation and the war in eastern Ukraine. The essential precondition for community development is the creation of a strong sense of social responsibility shared by all community members. This project aimed to promote the simplest forms of socially responsible behaviour among all groups in the community (families, teenagers, youth, the elderly, local authorities, social initiatives, NGOs, etc.)
Bára was involved in the founding of the Kampa Community Centre, which began operating a maternity centre 12 years ago and supporting and developing the Malá Strana community. Kampa and its local community have always played an important role in her life. She loves the fact that Malá Strana has always been a “village within the city”. Starting in the early days of the Kampa Community Centre, she took part in various occasional children’s activities, wrote grant proposals, co-organized smaller festivals in the Kampa area, dealt with Town Hall representatives and helped the centre to develop. Since 2012 she has held a part-time job at the Community Centre .
She wants the centre of Prague to be a place where people want to live, rather than a place they run away from.
Bára’s community is situated in the real heart of touristy Prague, in the Malá Strana neighbourhood. She works at the NGO “Komunitní centrum Kampa” (Kampa Community Centre), which has been trying to keep the local community together for the past 12 years (it runs a maternity centre with a playroom, courses for kids and adults, etc. and the Salla terrena club, where it holds concerts, exhibitions, debates, workshops, film club meetings, etc. It also deals frequently with the Prague 1 Town Hall). Nevertheless, there is a constant outflow of inhabitants and a deterioration of life in the centre of Prague. In her project Bára wants to focus on improving the quality of life in the centre of Prague so that Malá Strana becomes a place where people want to live and not run away from. She wants to do this by taking a few steps – organizing diverse events for locals, negotiating with councillors in Prague 1, holding public meetings with representatives, communicating with local residents, and gaining their confidence in the belief that the situation can be changed for the better – giving back the hope they have lost. Bára would also like to create a group of engaged citizens to focus on problematic issues related to living in the centre of Prague.
Her dream is that Malá Strana will remain a neighbourhood where people still know each other and say hello when they meet.
Constanța is an active citizen of Chișinău and a member of the NGO “Centre of Urbanism”. After studying architecture and urban planning, she worked for some time in architecture studios and gradually came to understand that she needed to make a change. Constanța thus embraced the unknown and found her place in participatory urban planning and community projects.
She has become a local activist and is involved in various public space and community projects in Chisinau and Moldova. She puts all her knowledge, energy and humour into what she does and makes things happen.
Micle Pedestrian Street Project
Micle Pedestrian Street is a participatory project that aims to start a pedestrianization process and that addresses poor community identity, which is intensified by people’s lack of identification with public space. Situated in the heart of Chisinau, the community is diverse and consists of local inhabitants, business owners and employees, local administration staff, people working in culture and education as well as city centre visitors and users, and people who identify with the street.
During implementation of the project, the team wants to actively involve the community so that people living and working in this area use the space in a friendly and inclusive manner by engaging in all the activities. The local community will learn to be heard, to express their needs and wishes, to identify their local resources and learn to use them. The message that the team hopes to send is that urban space can be used in a sustainable way and regular citizens have a voice in creating and using it.
Dušan tries to get people in the city to know each other so they can appreciate each other more. He is trying to achieve this through his two projects: Neighbours in the courtyard, in which neighbours spend time together by participating in cultural activities, and Zrejme, which tries to build bridges between different generations.
Stanica Záhreb (Station Zagreb) is a mobile intergenerational cultural centre, which is a response not only to the closing of a senior citizen day-care facility in Zahrebska street, but also to the need to integrate senior citizens into our daily lives. It will try to establish a creative space using local infrastructure such as the library, a run-down park and local theatre, a homeless centre and a local pub to provide a mental and cultural space for senior citizens and people of different generations. Station Zagreb will integrate the talents and skills of its members and ask them to participate in creating the content of the Station’s events.
Galina Dimitrova – Dimova
Galina Dimitrova-Dimova is a contemporary art curator and organizer of events in this field. Her professional areas of interest are the digital arts, public art projects and socially engaging activities. She also organizes and curates a number of festivals, exhibitions and other events in Bulgaria and abroad. She works as a project coordinator in Credo Bonum Foundation in Sofia.
Galina is now committed to Yatoto (the Flock). The Freedom to Fly platform which she and her husband initiated and developed in Bela Rechka, a village in northwest Bulgaria to which they moved five years ago. This is a community gathered around a cause defined by a new type of education and communication based on freedom, respect for the personality and lifelong learning.
The project targets the local community of the village Bela Rechka in northwest Bulgaria, which is mostly comprised of elderly people. They feel the lack of young people and children as well as social activities that make the village come alive. Embracing the vision of the platform The Flock. The Freedom to Fly, the project focuses on building links between generations: the old people of the village and the young people and children that are drawn in through project activities. The results will be to make old people feel more optimistic and happy and to give the young people learning and valuable experience from this contact.
In order to fulfil this aim, Galina and her group will carry out a number of activities such as developing a community centre in the village that will be the place local people can meet, talk and interact with others; organizing regular events in the village; and attracting young people and children to the site.
Irena Šťastná works for Ostrava City Library and has a background in the humanities. She is currently in the process of learning what can work in an urban community. She is keen on encouraging individuals to do the best for others.
She has experience with engaging a village community in regard to cultivation of public spaces (e.g. wooden statues in the park), artistic events (readings by authors, theatre performances) and environmental events (organized trash collection), and volunteering (running the young tourists club, establishing the local library based on volunteers from among local senior citizens).
Irena’s community is located in a housing estate on the edge of Ostrava, the third largest Czech city, an area that was historically tied to coal mining. She and her group are unhappy with the low level of engagement among local residents who are intolerant of others and live in isolation and in “generational bubbles”.
They dream of local residents using a model of neighbourly support, sharing and enjoyment in the context of the whole community. They believe that the process of ‘warming up’ individuals or groups from the community is the right way to lay the foundation for trust. Since they have learned that our coal mining history and environmental issues are what people in this community share, they want to mirror these in outdoor exhibitions, activities to collect local memories, thematic discussions, commented architectural walks and creative workshops. The goal is to encourage volunteering in the community and initiate use of one room in the library that will be open for community needs.
Jakub lives in a small city in northern Bohemia near the border with Germany and Poland. He graduated as a teacher of geography and physical education and feels that his university studies shaped his perspective on life: “While geography for me represents space and the environment around us (the local community), PE represents the quality of our movement in this environment. I believe we need to constantly improve both these areas in order to lead happy lives. But we are not able to manage both these areas by ourselves. We might have a perfect house, but we won’t spend all of our life just in the house. We can be in perfect shape, but what’s the point if we don’t have anyone with whom to share exercising or sports. So that brings me to community, and how our own happiness is related to the people and environment around us. I strongly believe that the happiness of people around us shapes our own happiness.” Jakub’s community work takes place in a free-time club for young people. He works as a mentor in a club for children and teenagers in Frýdlant, with a group for ages 12-26. There are over 50 registered members. He is also developing a program for projects in which people from the region can apply their ideas and visions, and develop projects of their own. He started working in the club two and a half years ago. So far he and his group have implemented around ten small projects for the local community. For example: concerts, holiday events, crafts projects, renovation of our club and a project where children communicated with city representatives. Last but not least, they develop educational materials for Frýdlant kids who are struggling in school and need extra help. They bring together high school students who teach students from elementary school.
Jakub has lived in the Frýdlant region for twenty-six years. He says: “I’ve laughed out loud here, cried, fallen in love, started my family life, and it’s my green heaven on Earth. But unfortunately this is not a perspective that every citizen shares. Very often, when I go for a walk or stroll around my favourite places, I meet almost no one. In addition, many young people are leaving our region.” He believes that one of the ways to change this is to help students fall in love with the Frýdlant region at the earliest age possible. In order to make this happen, he will try to re-establish a relationship between students and the Frýdlant region. Firstly, Jakub will get students outside of school for their first date. He knows that he will need strong allies from among engaged teachers, open-minded head teachers and organizations such as tourist and revitalization clubs to help him locate the proper space for community projects and local place-based learning. After a couple of ‘dates’ with teachers, engaged people and experts from the region, they will start a new family. The family will create and share their passions, interests, projects and ideas about how to help students fall in love with the region and how to let them be part of it.
Kristyna is a teacher at the elementary school in Heřmanice u Oder, which has about 10 pupils between the ages of 6 and 10, a “family style school”. Kristy is also the chairperson of the Odry Beekeepers Association, the founder and leader of the Oderské vrchy Young Beekeepers club and a founder of the Nase Kamenka association.
The main activities of Nase Kamenka are: promoting active citizenship and volunteering among youth, supporting the continuation of local traditions and customs (by organizing folklore events during the year), linking the association’s activities to environmental education and organizing cultural events (workshops, concerts, exhibitions, lectures, etc.). Kristyna realizes her interests, hobbies and dreams through Nase Kamenka as it is her way to live “active citizenship”.
Kristyna lives in a small Sudeten village called Kamenka that has only about 200 inhabitants. It is situated on the top of a hill known as “Oderske vrchy” (560 m above sea level) along with two other small villages. The combined population of the villages is less than 500 people, all living in a rather geographically isolated position. Historically Kamenka (Kamitz) was inhabited by Germans for many centuries up until the end of World War II. The local community is immature and disparate; Kristyna’s generation is only the third Czech generation to live in Kamenka since WW2. Czechs from different parts of the Czech Republic and other ethnic groups settled in Kamenka after the violent post-war expulsion of Germans. As a result, the population is significantly heterogeneous.
Kristyna’s project is set in this context. The local community has no shared history, traditions, culture or religion, and moreover is very poor. Residents have shared involvement in cultivating their community or village. There are two educational institutions (a preschool and an elementary school), four clubs (Men’s, Women’s, the Fire brigade and Our Kamenka (“Nase Kamenka”)), each of which holds events throughout the year. But every single activity is isolated and the quality has declined over the years. This holds true for activities developed by Nase Kamenka as well. The promise for the future is to create bridges and cooperation between the clubs and community members to enhance the “traditional” activities they hold each year as a way of boosting the quality of community life.
Lenka is an environmentally hypersensitive person who cares a lot about global, regional and local ecological problems. She thinks everyone should do his or her utmost for his or her surroundings. For her, the meaning of life is about increasing the quality of her environment in close cooperation with inspiring people. A healthy community means a healthy society, which means a healthy environment.
Lenka’s community is a typical Czech block of flats with 64 flats. It is a place characterized by anonymity and an absence of closer cooperation where people don´t know each others’ names.
Lenka will try to change an ugly cellar into a comfortable and pleasant community room where people can gather for various reasons: annual meetings, exercise, a book club, film screenings and a children´s playroom. She hopes people will come to find that it is great to meet, talk, listen, be inspired and cooperate with their neighbors.
Mike Kasibo, Founder and Director of Global Outreach Foundation, MK (GOFMK).
Mike is the founder and director of GOFMK. Mike holds a Msc in Global Cooperation and Security and a BSc (Hons) in Applied Social Studies. He also has a diploma in Business Communication and certificates in Leadership in the Voluntary Sector and Community Organising. With over eight years of experience in youth work, social care, police and community organising, Mike has contributed to programmes geared towards the resettlement and integration of refugee and migrant communities in East and West Midlands, through activities, events and skills development such as power analysis mapping, leadership training, connecting, speaking out, building power and mentoring. (Activities and events include: African Diaspora Day Event, Black History Month, Community/Police Forum, Youth clubs, Show Racism Red Card and Breakfast Club).
“Moving to a new area is one thing, but having to move to a new country with a different culture is another. This change can be very challenging for refugees, migrants and asylum seekers who are finding it hard to feel that the new country is their home, thus making it difficult to integrate within settled communities. Similarly, members of local communities struggle with the new arrivals not knowing their culture or how to relate to them,”. Mike Kasibo.
Global Outreach Foundation MK (GOFMK) was formed for the purposes of racial, social, cultural and economic integration. The key elements of GOFMK are a Breakfast Club, an annual Community Festival, a Community – Police forum, Football and Black History Month.
The Milton Keynes community is very diverse and can give one a feeling of connection and disconnection. Without much of a public transport system, it becomes hard to connect, unless you are a driver. People, both new arrivals and more settled residents, have felt isolation, leading to depression. GOFMK is working towards integration, enabling members to connect and have a presence in public spaces and hence creating a real feeling of community cohesion.
Mike says: “with each passing day, our communities are becoming more and more urban. Therefore, it is more important that we focus more intensely and with greater energy on the smallest parts of our communities and neighbourhoods, where our lives are shaped. Our community challenges us to work together because we can only find peace by trying to live together.”
Miroslava Hlinčíková is a researcher and a social anthropologist. In her research she focuses on minorities and inclusion. She is also active in her local community through a non-governmental organization called Bronco. Bronco provides space and a place for projects and ideas developed by young people living in Trnava. The organization runs the “Kubik” community centre, organizes various community events such as local markets, picnics, independent concerts and community dinners, and supports the presence of art in public spaces. Miroslava is one of the organizers of the popular local markets “Trnavský rínek” and “Trnavský blšák”. The markets are a great way to engage and network local citizens and NGOs in the name of active participation in public space, develop public spaces for (and with) people, support local businesses and small entrepreneurs and develop inhabitants’ relationship to the city.
Mirka would like to interconnect people living on the street where she and her group organize an open-air market in the town of Trnava. The street is situated in the town centre and people living there face the problems of urban life: anonymity (very often they do not know each other), too many cars parking on the street (visitors of cafes, restaurants, hotels), noise during the night, an abandoned park, etc. Mirka’s group would like to engage them via the market and connect them through the story of the place in which they live.
Ovidiu Albert is currently working as a history teacher in Roman, Romania. His scientific work at Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (JMU) in Germany increased his appetite for volunteering with the elderly, people with disabilities, etc. As a result, upon returning home he established an NGO which works with teenagers in social, cultural, educational and ecological areas.
Community is not built from buildings, but from the people who live in it. What keeps the people of a community together? One simple but precious thing: hope. That is what Ovidiu and his group are trying to offer to the citizens of Roman: the hope of a better future through active participation in shaping the community. At the Volunteering and Community Resources Centre, citizens offer their time, skills and capacities to change the community and to create opportunities for the future.
Andriy is a deputy of the Kamyanyanka-Buzka City Council of the Lviv region of Ukraine. He is a lawyer with ten years of professional experience and is also engaged in community development, combating corruption, and legal education. During the last few years he has been involved in community development strategies, provision of free legal aid and community investment.
In addition, Andriy practices a healthy lifestyle, promotes sports and actively engages in them. With his assistance, several sports grounds have been built in the Kamyunka-Buzha community.
Andriy’s project will focus on the development of the Kamianka-Buzka community. In particular, it will aim towards activation of the community and creation of a favourable environment for communication between people of different age categories.
In order to focus on the community, it is necessary to focus attention on common elements.
Community activation methods include organization of shared leisure-time activities, active dialogue and reflection. To this end he and his group are developing a “Platform for Communication and Leisure”.
She thinks that the general situation in her country today is feeding a type of cohesionbased on a need for enemy-thinking, and is also still prone to linger in a state of self-pity through ingrained low-status thinking, psychologically justified by events in its history.
She is intrigued by the question of whether there are means to turn this around starting from a social psychological point of view. Hungary does not have a past as a colonizing nation, but it does have a grave cultural heritage of inferiority.
Are there ways to break through the national sadness of the victimized, to have the strength to enable a more proactive common consciousness, that would even improve people’s material circumstances? Are humans capable of overcoming status anxiety and willing to take the risk to employ long-term values? What are the upsides and downsides of this approach?
Through the projects she hopes to find out more about human interaction and ways of bonding without needing to focus on a common enemy.
I would like to organize activities related to the garden in order to set the stage forinteraction and experience the process of change in community bonding,
hopefully for the better. Through the project I hope to tackle general social phenomena such as urban dwellers’ tendency to become isolated, our relationship to the need for stability and safety versus changes which come upon us. How to describe our culture here and now, regarding openness to the unknown and solidarity with the unknown? What is the range of reasons that underlie why people choose to open up or close down?
The project targets a group of about 100 inhabitants who live in a block of flats in Hattyú and Batthyány streets in Budapest and focuses on a neglected and rarely used garden space. It is a protected space that contains trees and other plants and the remains of what was once a small playground. I would like to investigate the connections between the inhabitants of the apartment buildings and how to revive the garden space together to make it a more frequented meeting place once again.
Some of the tensions in the community are based on differences between elderly people’s need for quiet and the loss of connection between this group and younger tenants, who have a high turnover rate in the flats.
On the other hand, families with young children are eager to have more social interaction, which begs the question: how to create an open dialogue
about this without being psychologically or spatially invasive, since these are highly personal matters?