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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The dream Youth Innovation Lab


What would be the dream Youth Innovation Lab was the main issue we ideated with 30 young people representing different youth NGOs, organizations advocating people with disabilities rights, students, representatives of Sofia Municipal Council and Local Advisory Group.

The Sofia Development Association team in cooperation with the Sofia Municipality team organized the interactive event under NewGeneration Skills project, funded by Interreg Danube Programme.

The discussion had 3 ideation sessions: the (infra) – structure: the PLACE – how it would look like in order to attract young innovators; the PEOPLE – whom we would like to have there working and who would be the main target; the SERVICES – what would be the services our Sofia Innovation Lab would offer.

We believe the involvement of decision makers from the Sofia Municipal Council and the future users of the Innovation Lab in the beginning of the process of creating the Sofia concept is a guarantee for its successful creation. 

 

 

          

NewGenerationSkills naturally found its supporters at the first meeting of the Sofia city Youth Consultative Council



New Generation Skills project was presented by SDA team and Michaela Ivanova, Sofia Municipal Councilor and Sofia LIAG chairperson, on 11 October 2017 during the first meeting of the newly formed Sofia Youth Consultative Council.

The Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova welcomed more than 40 young people from 11 student associations, schools, youth organization that will assist the Mayor and the Municipal Council on youth policies and particularly the implementation and evaluation of Sofia Youth Strategy.

The knowledge and skills acquirement and professional orientation is one of the main priority in the Strategy, thus the NGS project and the Innovation Lab that SDA and city of Sofia will create is fundamental for achieving this priority. The involvement of Sofia Youth Consultative Council turns NGS project into a citywide initiative.

 

          

International Conference for Cultural Management and Network Meeting in Sofia

Sofia Development Association and Goethe-Institut organize an international conference “Paths to Innovation in Culture” in Sofia on September 28-30, 2017. The conference is in the framework of the 2017 Cultural Management Academy and aims to bring together cultural manager-practitioners from Bulgaria, Romania and Greece with leading academic scholars, researchers and political leaders, to exchange experiences and research findings. This year’s Academy participants from the three countries, selected by an academic editorial board, will present own research in the areas of digital innovation, social innovation, innovation together, innovation in the working process and new audiences. Among the international speakers are Krzysztof Maj, Director of Wroclaw 2016 European Capital of Culture, Rarita Zbranca, Director of Cultural Center CLuj, Dr. Evelin Hust, Director of Goethe-Institut Bucharest, Dr. Petya Koleva, Venelin Shurelov. The conference aims to establish an interdisciplinary platform for researchers, practitioners and educators to present and discuss receont innovations, trends, problems and solutions in the realm of cultural management. Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova and the Sofia Council Committee on Culture and Education chairperson Malina Edreva will also be in attendance.

The papers presented during the conference, will be included in a special academic conference proceedings publication.

The international conference builds upon the 5-year experience of SDA in organizing the Academy for Cultural Management, the partnership with Sofia University, Goethe-Institut and the European cultural institutes. By giving the opportunity to cultural manager to contribute conference content we help them market themselves and their organizations and projects and advance their career.

International conference QED’17


On September 20 -21, 2017, Sofia hosted the international conference Quality of Education’17: Children in the Digital Era, co-organized by UNESCO, Unit and Sofia Development Association. The conference was opened by the European Commissioner on digital economy Maria Gabriel. The delegates, coming from over 30 states, presented their proposals for the modernization of educational systems, information technologies in favor of professional and informal education, upbringing in the digital world. Sevdalina Voynova, SDA, was a panelist in the conference and presented the work of the Digital Transition Partnership, part of the Urban Agenda for the EU. The partnership aims to develop better regulations, financial mechanisms, business opportunities and public services in the process of digitatization of health care and social care, education, urban planning, e-governance. By the end of the year the Action plan to be discussed with the European Commission will be developed and presented. Sofia municipality with the support of SDA is the coordinator of the partnership together with Oulu, Finland, and Estonia.

The conferece was streamed online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqjofRzR7zw&feature=youtu.be.

SDA participates in the workshop “Developing Skills and Knowledge in the Area of Cybersecurity”


The workshop, organized by “Law and Internet” foundation and the Ministry of Transport took place on September 20, 2017, in the framework of the international UNESCO conference “Children in the Digital Era”. Sevdalina Voynova with SDA was a pannelist in the program devoted to primary and secondary education. The panel discussed the effect of the digital transition on education and how to develop awareness and skills for cybersecurity among students. Among the panel’s recommendations are the development of integrated digital environment in schools, including school process, additional resources, interaction with parents and teachers; overcoming the digital divide; establishing links between cybersecurity and European values; mechanisms for human capital development. The discussion also focused ont he opportunities for the advancement of these measures provided by the Digital transition partnership of the European Urban Agenda, which is coordinated by Sofia.

Parallel to the workshop, also in the building of Sofia Library was launched the Students Hackathon “Smart School 4 Smart Schoolchildren”, co-organized by Sofia Development Association. The students are coding solutions for increased interest and motivation for learning, interaction between students, teachers and parents, combating aggression at school.

What does “hate speech” mean and why is it so important to know how to end it?

In 1997 the Council of Europe defines hate speech as “all forms of expressions that spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance”.

Why do we provide you with this definition? Because we believe that the first step towards defeating a certain problem is to pinpoint what that problem is. So now we know what hate speech is, but what does it look like?

The answer is simple. We see it every day. We read about it on social media, we pass by it on the streets. Hate speech is the article you read yesterday about the young man from Iraq, Syria or Egypt, who beat a child on the streets, the article which turns out to be a lie, targeting you as the next victim of its popularization. Hate speech is the man who is offending another person on the streets because of the language he speaks or his skin colour. Hate speech is everywhere. It doesn’t have a day off or a curfew, it goes beyond business hours.

So we now know what it looks like, but why does hate speech exist? It exists because we allow it to exist. It exists because we agree to listen to it, read it and see it everywhere. It exists because we don’t take action.

So how do we stop it? We, from the Sofia Development Association, start from where the modern world meets its fastest development – the internet.
Alongside 7 other organizations from 6 other countries - Libera Università di Lingue e Comunicazione IULM - IUL and Associazione FORMA.Azione from Italy, the Languages Company from the UK, Center for Peace from Croatia, People in Need from the Czech Republic, Asociația Divers from Romania and the Municipality of Agii Anargiri-Kamatero from Greece – and with the financial help of the European Commission we started working on the “Coalition of Positive Messengers to Counter Online Hate Speech” project.

We began our work on 1 October 2016 and we hope to achieve our goals until 30 September 2018.

Our initiative addresses the need for a more effective answer to hate speech from our society. The project focuses on two main goals – establishing a coalition of many people and organizations which works towards demolishing hate speech online and spreading positive messages by creating campaigns aiming towards educating and informing people about what it is like to be an immigrant and the challenges you face when you have very few choices in your life.

Our main goal is to create a working mechanism for pushing back hate speech and stopping xenophobia from developing and spreading in our society.
We also aim towards providing new data about the essence, range and impact of hate speech online, so we can help local and national authorities to develop more effective ways of combating hate speech and encourage communication and tolerance between the European society and the most vulnerable people groups – immigrants and refugees.

So how can YOU help?

Take action when you see a display of xenophobia and lack of tolerance, don’t allow yourself to get used to them. Spread positive messages in your community and together with the people around you create an environment of tolerance and understanding.

Keep an eye on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/positivemessengers/ and website https://www.positivemessengers.net for more news and information on our campaigns and how you can join our cause.

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