SOFIA DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION was founded as non-profit organization with the decision 348
of the Sofia Municipal Council to work for the sustainable development of the capital.

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LEAD-Online PROJECT (funded under CERV-2021-EQUAL)

Learn, Engage, Act: Digital Tools to Prevent and Counter Hate Speech Online”

The EU funded project LEAD-Online addresses the need to strengthen critical thinking and digital & media literacy skills in young people, as causally linked to the low levels of reporting and the “normalization” of hate speech online (HSO). The project started in March, the kick off meeting took place in Sofia on 7th of April 2022 and will end in February 2024.

The project will empower youth, teachers, media and social media activists in 7 countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Italy, Greece, Romania) to become agents of change by training them to recognize hateful discourses and underlying forms of intolerance, prejudices and discrimination, using a rights-based approach, providing them with innovative digital tools to classify, decode and counter HSO, and opening up spaces for discussion of HSO, promoting attitudes and behaviour that respect human rights and values. The project includes empirical research, co-creation of online tools, in-person and online training, and outreach activities.

Target groups are young people aged 14-19, educators, journalists, social media activists, b/vloggers; civil society, Internet service providers. Through online self-assessment tools we will produce hate speech ontologies, which will be used to develop and test an interactive online game, Hate Out! with resources in 7 languages to identify and counter HSO.

Partners will run a series of events (LEAD-Online Talks) and an online creative campaign to reinforce the awareness of the chilling effects of hate speech in society.

Facts & figures:

  • Over 4000 young people and educators will participate in interactive learning formats on human rights-based activism against HSO.
  • Through Hate Out! over 3500 users will learn to denounce hate messages in an online environment. Students, youth leaders, journalists, and educators will become co-creators of proactive narratives against HSO.
  • Over 1400 participants in more than 20 public LEAD-Online Talks will gain new awareness of the wide implications of HSO and will get access to international networks and resources for countering hate speech.
  • More than 35,000 people will be reached through online information.

LEAD-Online Partners are:

ASSOTSIATSIA ZA RAZVITIE NA SOFIA | Bulgaria

FORMA.AZIONE SRL | Italy

UDRUGE CENTAR ZA MIR, NENASILJE I LJUDSKA PRAVA - OSIJEK | Croatia

Asociatia Divers | Romania

FUTURE NEEDS MANAGEMENT CONSULTING LTD | Cyprus

HELLENIC OPEN UNIVERSITY | Greece

ZARA - ZIVILCOURAGE UND ANTI-RASSISMUS ARBEIT | Austria

 

Facebook   @LEADOnlineEU

Instagram   leadonline_eu

Twitter   @LEADOnlineEU

 

The project is funded by the EU’s Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values programme.

     

Sofia hosted European cities focusing on migrant labour integration

In the midst of the unprecedented wave of Ukrainian citizens forced to leave their homes and being welcomed in European cities, representatives of EUROCITIES network and the cities Antwerp, Belgium, Tampere, Finland, Madrid, Spain, Brest, France, Karditsa, Greece, and Migration work came to Sofia to exchange experiences in how they integrate migrants in their labour markets and how to best support the Ukrainian newcomers. The visit was held in the framework of CONNECTION project: CONNEcting Cities Towards Integration action, is co-funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.

Sofia Development Association had organized a rich programme of meetings and visits to the premises of stakeholders and service providers in Sofia, among whom Sofia Invest Agency, the Refugee Migration Service of the Bulgarian Red Cross, Caritas, the situational reception center at the central railway station. A special focus of the exchange was the activity of Sofia Bureau for Information and Services for third country nationals that was opened in September 2021.

The representatives of the European cities met with Bulgarian employers that hire migrants, to discuss their experiences, challenges and recommendations how to make the process smoother.

Of particular interest were the meetings and exchange with the representatives of Sofia Municipality – with Malina Edreva, chairperson of the Committee on Education, Culture and Diversity at Sofia Municipal Council, with directors of directorates, coordinators of municipal grant-making programmes, municipal enterprises and joint initiatives with the businesses, the NGO sector and the international organizations.

Cities face similar challenges like better coordination between all stakeholders, more flexibility and problem-solving focus, need of timely funding, more support from the national level, appropriate recognition, and support to volunteers, to mention a few. Cities share the belief that the Ukrainian crisis is also an opportunity for cities to reflect on their policies and experiences and trigger positive sustainable changes for the benefit of all.

        

      

      

      

     

 

CONNECTION project: CONNEcting Cities Towards Integration action, is co-funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.

 

SDA HOSTS A DELEGATION FROM LIEGE FOR A MUTUAL LEARNING PROGRAM UNDER UMN – UnionMigrantNet and Cities Together for Intergation

As part of the Mutual Learning Program of the UMN project, the two Bulgarian partners - SDA and CITUB, hosted a delegation from the city of Liege. From June 13 through 16, 2022 representatives of the city administration in Liege and NGOs met with Bulgarian experts and organizations working for the integration of third-country nationals. The delegation visited the headquarters of CITUB, the municipal Bureau for Information and Services for Third Country Nationals, the Registration and Reception Center for Refugees in Ovcha Kupel, the Municipal Registration Center at Sofia Central Railway Station, Caritas Bulgaria. Discussions focused on the experience of Sofia and Bulgaria in providing integration services to refugees and migrants, the challenges and issues faced, good practices and lessons learned. The final meeting on June 16 was hosted by Sofia Municipality, during which the guests from Liege had an opportunity to ask questions about municipal policies and practices linked to migrant integration.

The UMN project is drawing to a close and the Bulgarian partners are now planning the final conference in September, during which we will share our experiences and ideas for improving the pathways to integration for all those forced to flee from their homeland, in search of a better life for themselves and their families.

 UMN project co-funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.

 

      

      

   

  

SDA Receives a Special Award at the Annual Awards of the NGO Portal in Bulgaria


At last night’s annual award ceremony of the NGO Portal in Bulgaria, SDA received a special award in the category for most publications on the Portal during 2021: with 115 publications, SDA took the third place!

We are very happy to accept the award - it is a recognition of our constant efforts to share knowledge and support the activities of fellow civil society organizations. The annual awards initiative is also a testimony for the very important role played by the Portal and for providing a forum for CSOs to present their work to society. This award motivates us to contribute further to expanding the role of civil society in Bulgaria, and, of course, to aspire for the first place next year – and in more than one category!

Special thanks and congratulations to our colleagues Albena Nacheva and Sanya Raeva who are in charge of digital social media and who make sure that SDA has a strong online presence and a constantly growing network of supporters and partners.

 

 

 

Sofia is hosting and organizing the first educational project for young bulgarian choreographers

From June 15 to 25, 2022, young bulgarian choreographers and ballet dancers will be part of the first edition of a Creative Laboratory, called « HELIOS ».

Within 10 days, at the Regional Center for Contemporary Arts "Топлоцентрала" , they will have the oppurtunity to work with Vladimir Angelov - choreographer, lecturer and CEO of Dance ICONS, Inc. "Washington."

The experimental educational process will end with a live performance.

This unique program is organized by the Sofia Municipality through the Sofia Development Association and the Regional Center for Contemporary Arts "Топлоценррала" in partnership with the International Organization and Professional Network of Choreographers « Dance ICONS, Inc. » in Washington and the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria.

"Our purpose is to support young talents in all fields of art. The creative laboratory, which starts today, is part of our policy to support young talents in the art of dance. We support master classes led by world-famous compatriots, such as Raina Kabaivanska, Theo Ushev, Dimitar Marinov.

For example, this week, several others initiative for young artists are also being held - "Reporters' Workshop", an acting course at the famous Lee Strasberg School of Stars, said Mayor Yordanka Fandakova. According to her, « it is very important to concentrate funding in order to achieve results, wich we succed to do with the municipal program "Culture" ».

This year, through the "Dance, Dance Theater and Performance" direction, we are abble to support 8 projects, and the Cultural Calendar includes the International Festival of Contemporary Dance and Performance "Antistatic" and the Resident Program of Derida Dance Center.
Mrs Fandakova pointed out that "I have always believed that talented successful Bulgarians around the world are a great asset for our country. I thank Mr. Angelov for accepting our invitation to come and make this creative laboratory. " She also thanked the Ministry of Culture for the synergy achieved in the work on the Helios project.

One of the special things about Helios is that it involves representatives of both the institutional and the independent dance scene, said the head of the creative laboratory Vladimir Angelov. "It will be very interesting to work on this project. Our task at Helios will be to improve the skills that choreographers already have and to learn how to experiment ".

The first day of the project was attended by Mila Iskrenova - one of the most prominent Bulgarian choreographers in the bulgarian contemporary dance. "This project is a true miracle".

Choreography in our country started from almost nothing due to the censorship of the Iron Curtain. That is why, dance theorists and practitioners say that the development of dance is proof of the development of democracy, because only a free man can dance. However, what has been happening for 30 years in Bulgaria and especially in the last 10 years is a true miracle, "said Ms. Iskrenova.

The main purpose of Helios is to support the professional development of young bulgarian choreographers and to give them the opportunity to join international performing networks. The project is funded by the Sofia Municipality and the Ministry of Culture.

 

      

Photographer: Angelina Angelova

 

 

INNOAIR – the project that favours both environment and citizens

The main ideas and novelties behind INNOAIR project were presented at the 7th edition of the European Congress of Local Authorities in Mikolajki, Poland, 11-12 April 2022. The Congress represents a platform for exchange of views and for meetings of leaders of local and regional authorities from Poland with representatives of the state administration, NGOs, business and their partners from abroad.

Two of the partners under INNOAIR project were also among the invited participants to the event - Yana Docheva, Head of International Cooperation Department at NAMRB and Gergana Ugrinska, Head of International Activities Department at Urban Mobility Centre – Sofia.

In the framework of the session, focused on the topic of turning green investments into a benefit to all, Yana Docheva shared with the participants that Bulgaria and Poland face common challenges, priorities and goals in achieving environmental change, but have different starting points. Green transformations begins at the local level, local authorities know best the needs of the citizens, that is why municipalities should be the role model for carrying out the activities in implementing the upcoming changes. "We need to focus on what lies ahead for local authorities, because our energy and environmental transformation did not begin yesterday, but many years ago. Some municipalities are more advanced in implementing green ideas, others are just beginning. This highlights the differences in the problems we have to deal with" said Yana Docheva, emphasizing that if we want to achieve the expectations for climate neutrality and safe environment, we need mutual cooperation between citizens, business and the state.

Regarding the role of local authorities and businesses in finding environmental solutions, she presented the project "INNOAIR", implemented by Sofia Municipality in partnership with 2 universities, 2 NGOs, 2 companies and one national institute. With this innovative idea for green public transport on demand, the municipality aims to propose a qualitative change in the way mobility is organized in the capital city. Based on users’ requests submitted via an online application, an optimal route of transportation by electric buses is created, covering the maximum number of passengers. The innovation aims to improve accessibility and the cooperation with the business sector to develop and integrate the project, with the academia for data collection and analysis, as well as with the NGO sector to raise awareness and change consumer behaviour is the win-win combination for successful project implementation, shared with the participants Ms. Docheva.

This year the forum brought together more than 1,500 participants from local, regional and executive authorities from Poland, Bulgaria, Israel, Italy, Sweden, Finland, France, the Republic of Northern Macedonia and Albania. MPs, partner associations, associations and business representatives also took part.

INNOAIR project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Urban Innovative Actions Initiative.

                

         

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