Why a project for active citizenship?
Romania is a closed society. According to the final report of the project “Initiative for Civil Society” (Multimedia Foundation, 2013), 6 out of 10 Romanians consider the state to be the main responsible for the citizens’ welfare, but only 10% of them participated in activities related to the practice of active citizenship and even less than 5% of them ever signed a petition. Yet, regarding the declared intent, 97% of Romanians believe that their peers should be more involved in the local community.
Therefore, although desirable and necessary, active citizenship is… nowhere to be found. People expect institutions to solve their problems, but rarely enter into dialogue with them to get what they want. Thus, the “active citizenship” remains just a concept whose implementation raises a lot of questions.
In fact, what does it mean to be an active citizen? How to connect with other members of the community? How to interact with the local authorities? Where to find a neutral space that will encourage nonviolent discussions over local issues? How to identify solutions and how to contribute to their application?
By implementing the “Third place for active citizenship” project (in short, “The Third Place”) we want to answer all the above questions and, even more than that, we aim to “nest” the active citizenship in our everyday life by establishing a national network of resources (facilities, trainers, groups of action) that is open to anyone who wants to be or to become an active citizen. Click here to learn more.
Another kind of project, not “just another project”
“The Third Place” is a different type of project which starts from the premise that civil society and public administration are not opponents but two responsible stakeholders who must work together for the common good through genuine dialogue. Already for far too long the Romanian society has been divided, polarized, apathetic and marked by the blame of what should have been done. We believe that the other side of the coin – what we can do together, our joint project for welfare – is at least as important, if not more important. We are all citizens of the same community, rowing in the same boat – whether we work in public administration, in NGOs or in the private sector. It is important to acknowledge the need for a joint project of development, to harmonize interests through dialogue, to encourage the exchange of ideas and to respect each other. Our project will help build such a “third place”, the kind that allows citizens to interact and to discuss the values that a common project can be based on, because there is no individual welfare, there’s only the common good we create together.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
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