This project with the title: “Engaged communities: Nourishing solidarity, integration and social innovation” aims to stimulate social engagement and active citizens participation in relation to diverse social, political,
economical and environmental problems and to empower development of grass-root institutions (projects, initiatives,
communities and networks), which can provide sustainable local solutions.
With this project we want to bring focus to the importance of local community activities, and to stimulate social engagement – and encourage motivation to active citizen participation. We want to emphasize and promote the importance of local cooperation and solidarity models of self-organization and social innovation in meeting diverse challenges, but especially the relevance of expertise and solutions developed trough them and their applicability in wider and diverse social contexts. In this way we intend to underline the relevance of civil society and its grass-root organizations for overall development of our society.
Primarily we want to improve key competencies in relation to empowerment of citizens for self-organization and social engagement, as well as to develop their ability to access and increase social, cultural and financial capital and other resources that can support sustainability of local projects, initiatives and networks. We want to build our capacity to adapt and utilize those competencies and knowledge in our local projects and contexts, and to facilitate the dissemination of this knowledge in the local community, as well as between various community initiatives in single countries and across Europe. Therefore, we want to improve our ability to organize and develop diverse educational activities that offer practical knowledge and skills with the goal to empower, as well as reinforce networking opportunities and connections between projects and resources.
Our project underlines the relevance and stimulates social engagement and active citizens participation in relation to diverse social, political, economical and environmental problems, it empowers the development of grass-root institutions (projects, initiatives, communities and networks), which can provide sustainable local solutions and designs for these problems. The project emphasizes the importance of local cooperation and models of self-organization based on common values of equality, democratic participation and solidarity in meeting diverse challenges – citizens participation and integration in decision-making, social inclusion, welfare and self-employment – but especially the relevance of expertise, solutions and designs developed, and their high potential in the sense of social innovation and applicability in wider and diverse contexts. In this way our project underlines the relevance of the civil society and its grass-root organizations for the overall development of our society.
The first activity was a study visit in Potsdam Germany, and Odense and Copenhagen, Denmark. This visit took place in August 2023. In Germany, the group visited Projecthouse Babelsberg, located in Potsdam.
The Project House Potsdam is a self-managed housing project with the aim of living and promoting social, ecological and inclusive ideas for the future. The area consists of two main houses and several small buildings with workshops and common spaces. Furthermore, there is a large green areas where activities can take place and where vegetables and flowers are being cared for.
In addition to a public woodworking, clay and sewing workshop, there is also a hands-on blacksmith shop on our premises as well as bookable seminar and overnight rooms.
In Denmark, the group visited Bondebjerget in Odense, which is a community in the outskirts of the city. Bondebjerget is a community that consists of approximately 80 separate houses in 4 blocks of houses. Each family has its own house but each group of houses has a common house and shared facilities.
Bondebjerget is located on a large piece of land, with a very green and fertila atmosphere, it is almost like entering a fairytale garden.
The group also vistited Christiania in Copenhagen, which is almost impossible to ignore when it comes to community based living, as it is one of the biggest communities in Northern Europe. Christiania, also called the Freetown, was founded in 1971 and consists of numerous shared and independent houses, with a very creative atmosphere.
During this visit, and after, the group learned about the Danish system of “andelsbolig”, which is a system that is unique for Denmark and presented a very new model of community based living.