MODEL LOCAL COUNCIL – a national youth initiative
Project ‘Model Local Council’ is a national youth initiative and was set up by 5 young coordinators with the help of LEVEL Association and coach Georgiana Melenciuc. The project took place in Iasi, during the course of May-October 2013 and gathered 16 young people aged 16-25 in a three stage process: learning about the local administration and deliberative decision-making in an European context, researching important problems of the local community and finally, having a one-month Local Council simulation. The project was based on experiential learning, peer-to-peer learning and direct contact with local councilors and important local figures. The project aims at building awareness of the role of young people as active citizens, empowering young people to become change-makers, providing tools and better understanding on local governance and citizen initiative. The solutions found by the participants to local problems were and will be shared with important people and organizations in Iasi and participants and other interested youth are encouraged to create a local youth network working long-term for shaping society and changing mentality in Iasi.
This project is financed by the European Commission through the programme Youth in Action, action 1.2 Youth Initiatives.
Activities and Project Implementation
The main goal of the project was to familiarize young people from Iasi with the local administration and decision-making process. For this goal we designed this project in gradual steps leading to a Local Council simulation in which the young people acted as local councilors working in committees and making decisions for the local community.
The stages of the project are the following:
STAGE 1: Learning about the local administration, role and competences of the Local Council, European dimension and proposal writing
In the first stage, that took 6 weeks, was comprised of trainings on the basic functioning of the local administration, the interaction with national and European authorities, the electoral process, the decision making, the legal aspects and the limits and duties of a Local Council towards the community. There were also lectures on persuasiveness and efficiency in proposal writing and oral pleadings and on basic guidelines in designing and conducting research and surveys. In this stage, we met weekly for two-hours lectures and group activities. The trainings were held at a local school Scoala Gimnaziala nr. 11 “Otilia Cazimir”, usually between 10 and 12 in the morning.
We also invited real local council members to hold presentations on their experience as local councilors, the challenges and opportunities that come with the job and to give recommendations and tell stories about the various decisions the Local Council has adopted in recent years. Participants were encouraged to ask questions and they found out about a lot of difference and small matters of practicality about the workings of the Local Council.
You can check out the seminar notes here!
You can browse through photos from events here!
STAGE 2: Conducting research on local community problems
The second stage consisted in field research, during which the participant groups spent some time doing reading and online research and surveys with the population to gather more information on a particular problem that affects their local community. This stage lasted two weeks and each group was coordinated and reported back to one of the project organizers. The participants were given guidelines for research and conducting interviews and had to write a report on their findings at the end of the two weeks. These reports were used as proposals for the next stage of the project (council simulation).
During these two weeks, participants also visited the Local Council, in and off meetings, to familiarize themselves with the setting and the way the meetings proceed. Participants were given further explanations on the proceedings of the council during and immediately after the meetings.
STAGE 3: Local Council simulation and project proposals
In the third stage of the project, the participants took part in a Local Council simulation for one month. The participants worked both in committees specialized in certain areas and in joint meetings to deliberate solutions to the problems they found and adopt decisions on the matter. This stage included both written and oral pleadings, based on the training the participants attended in the first stage of the project.
There were six committees made up of 3 to 6 councilors that evaluated and debated the projects from the perspective of certain fields of public interest: Youth and Sports, Social and Cultural Issues, Urbanism, Public Services and Social Justice, Resources for NGOS and public parties, Economic Issues.
There were also six projects proposed by the participants: a project to allow access to citizens to practice sport on school grounds, the creation of a youth center for improving school attendance and educational results with young people with fewer opportunities, a donation-collection service run by the town hall, building a dog shelter and developing an attractive online adoption system, allowing NGOs to use electoral panels for public promotion of activities, creating a space for graffiti in Iasi.
These projects were debated during the committee meetings, changed, amended, improved and finally all projects ended up on the table of the Local Council. The councilors had to choose two projects out of all six propositions to be made into local decisions, in the limit of a specified budget. After two hours of intensive debate and re-voting, the two winning projects were the one concerning sports on school grounds and the one proposing the creating of a graffiti space in Iasi. Nonetheless, all participants felt really satisfied with their collaboration and advocacy experience.
You can read the projects that our participants elaborated here!
Please vote for the project you find most desirable in Iasi on our forum!
Promotion and dissemination of results
- 70 posters of A3 dimension spreading the news about the commencement of the project
- 1000 flyers that were distributed in schools, universities, campuses, NGOs and other youth circles
- One article in a school magazine about the project, objectives and aims, about the Youth in Action funding scheme and invitation extended to pupils to participate in the event
- One stand-up banner with information about the project, time interval, funding from the Youth in Action scheme
- 260 personalized ballpoint pens bearing the name of the project, logo of Youth in Action and website address
- 49 personalized folders for participants and supporters, bearing the logos, visual signs and message of project Model Local Council, the Youth in Action programme and other supporting organizations
- 60 personalized T-SHIRTS with the project name, logo, Youth in Action logo and picture, black.
- 18 booklets and DVDs containing the 6 proposals elaborated by participants, that were distributed to public figures, local councilors, NGOs and teachers
- 183 likes on our Facebook page and between 50 and 1000 visitors and readers of our posts, notes and course materials
- 200 photos from the event and 1 hours of edited video footage
Website: www.levelonline.ro Check us out!
Collaborations and acknowledgements
First of all, we would like to thank our coach, Ms. Georgiana Melenciuc for supporting and guiding us through this project, letting us understand our strengths, interests and things to be improved and for encouraging us to find common objectives and become actively involved in supporting causes we believe in.
We are extremely grateful to Scoala Gimnaziala nr. 11 “Otilia Cazimir” Iasi for hosting our meetings, promoting our project and supporting us all the way in reaching out to young people to become more involved in the community.
We are also extremely glad to have collaborated with Asociatia Culturala Moldavia which has been so kind as to help us with this project by holding a short seminar over their experience with cultural, social and environmental issues in Iasi as experienced through their projects. This has helped participants in this project choose their proposals and shape solutions for fixing these problems in the community.
We would also like to extend our thanks and appreciation to Casa de Cultura “Mihail Ursachi” Iasi for hosting our opening conference for this event, for providing excellent service and aid with technicalities and setting up the site.
Last, but not least we would like to thank our participants and online supporters, people that have dropped by during meetings, asked questions and contributed to making this project a wonderful event.
*Acest proiect este finantat cu sustinere din partea Comisiei Europene. Aceasta publicatie reflecta doar vederile autorului, iar Comisia nu poate fi facuta responsabila pentru utilizarea informatiei pe care o contine.