2013 is the European Year of the Citizen and the focus of activity should be on understanding and promoting the idea and practice of citizenship, in terms of European and more local forms of citizenship.
Much of what has gone before has focused on the more concrete, direct and individual aspects of citizenship such as participation in formal politics and voting procedures and individual rights and responsibilities of ‘the citizen’.
What it has not dealt with is the ‘lack of belonging’ that affects so many and leads to disengagement and apathy. There are limited feeling of belonging to their own localities, regions or states never mind to Europe. Worse than this is the negative view of ‘Europe’ as just another level of bureaucracy, red tape and pressure, something that does not belong to the people but is something forced on them or unrelated to them, a view that is often reinforced by the media. In addition, Europe’s constituent elements are seen as ‘foreign’ to one another, in competition for scarce resources.
The resultant situation is increasing disengagement from politics in general, creating a limited citizenship, one that is confused by its identity/ies and angry about ‘others’. Such citizenship cannot deal with change or fully participate in the processes required to face the pressures exerted upon it and cannot contribute fully to a more inclusive Europe.
Yet in such increasing global and pressured contexts, people and communities who embrace open mindedness, enable creativity and understand change as a positive force, are more resilient and sustainable. Being able to communicate and collaborate with people across boundaries, share experience-based knowledge, learn the skills required for positive engagement help us recognize, develop and enhance our values and practices locally and at European level.
The development of an inclusive civic life, whether with interest or place communities, is a vital factor in any individual or community's emotional, economic and socio-cultural well-being. That is all more effective when relationships between all stakeholders is a positive one. Communities are built by people and strong communities are those with strong connections between people that diminish social exclusion and isolation, allow for creative actions.
We aim to work with individuals, groups and communities to:
- Increase sense of belonging and trust, reduce conflict and despondency by undertaking practical steps to build a collaborative and active citizenry
- Broaden understanding and practice of citizenship and extend knowledge and practice on community development processes
- Build community and citizenship skills to ensure sustainability and resilience
Further information about the project can be read at http://citcom.eu