Civil society actors as drivers of change in South Caucasus and MoldovaApr 27, 2020
This project draws on PIN’s experience supporting civic engagement in South Caucasus, Moldova and the Czech Republic, on insights from our colleagues, partners and researchers, and on many long discussions about what worked, what didn’t, and how we could make a difference. As a result, we decided to focus on new and emerging civic groups, grassroots initiatives, social and cultural movements that could become the driving force for change in their societies.
People in Needs itself started out in 1992 as a grassroots humanitarian initiative by a group of Czech war correspondents who were no longer satisfied with reporting on conflicts and crises around the world and wanted to make a difference. Our co-founder and current director Simon Panek was a student activist during the Velvet Revolution, and the surge of creative energy, civic mobilization, and social responsibility that emerged during that time was the driving force behind who we are today.
That’s why we are drawn to like-minded civic actors who are committed to representing people’s needs, those who are seeking to influence real systemic change, and those who are raising new important issues that are not widely known or discussed or in the society. We recognize their diversity and do not envision them following a uniform path of becoming formalized civil society organizations similar to us today. On the other hand, we do believe that we have something to learn from and offer to each other.
In the first few months of this new project, we would like to get together and get to know each other. This exploration will be thematically and geographically open: we will be looking to get in touch with groups and initiatives across the region in sectors as diverse as climate change and environment, public spaces, community participation in local decision-making and budgeting, preservation of local heritage, quality of public services, anti-corruption, women’s rights, working conditions, voices of marginalized groups, and more.
We would like to work closely together to understand what is needed in order for them to have more impact, stronger representation of and accountability to their communities, and more effective mobilization of resources (funds, people, skills and data) for change.
After a transparent selection process, we will work with a small and diverse group of participants on developing ambitious but realistic plans for who they want to be and what they want to achieve in the upcoming year. We will offer funding linked to their strategic plans and specific initiatives. We will support learning by doing, thematic research, campaigns, exchanges and alliances. And next year, we will do it again, but better.
Some of the specific areas of learning we believe could arise during this process are: alternative fundraising, mobilization of volunteers, daily challenges of diverse groups working together, inclusion and resolution of internal disputes, making plans and making them happen, developing a learning culture, internal accountability and building trust with wider community, harnessing creativity, art and technology for change, building alliances, deciding on what position to take in dealing with public authorities, local businesses and others who could help or hinder your efforts, and many others.