Growing Bottom-Up by Asociatia Proiect Pro Europa

In this practice, we present the involvement of citizens through science and education, through teaching and develop the community. One of the best smart practices that we have: ‘Growing Bottom-Up’ Method.

The method is based on the cooperation between Belgian-Netherland and Romanian informal groups, groups of citizens that want to be involved in the development of the communities they live in.

The cooperation started 27 years ago, but the method was applied much later. First, the groups from Belgium and Netherland came with materials, clothes, medicine for the citizens in the communities from Romania (after Ceausescu communist period time).

At some point, citizens in Romania started to have the desire to help as all the other members in the community and came to the conclusion that they need to develop themselves and to work together with the local authorities and ask for the help of experts to get to the results they needed.

Therefore, some groups in Romania decided to join ‘The Open Network for Community Development Foundation’, in order to access the training and the knowledge of the experts in the network.

One of these organizations is ‘Proiect Pro Europa Association’ – APPE, from Ciumarna village, Suceava County, Romania. It started as an informal group. They were a few people that wanted to make a change in the community they were living in. The village is small, from a rural area, from the disadvantaged commune, with families with lower economic or lower educational potential, who often do not see the benefits of the citizens’ involvement in the community.

Currently, a great part of the active population has left or left the village, attracted by gains resulting from economic activities specific to the cities or those carried out abroad.

This practice is about the development of civil community organisations at the rural level: informal group, trained, developed and then transformed into an institution with own management (association). After the association establishment, the training continues, they get support by involving them in projects, collaborate with them as an equal partner.

Members from APPE participate to training in writing applications for funds, participate in mobilities in foreign countries, raising their skills in using technology, learning about European policies, about other cultures, other currency, other traditions.

They are now writing and implementing their own projects, with little help from the experts of “The Open Network for Community Development” Foundation.


Target group

Citizens

Beneficiaries: APPE volunteers

The age range of the beneficiaries:

    18-24 years old, 25-34 years old, 35-44 years old, 45-54 years old, 55-64 years old, 65-74 years old, 75 years or older

Impact achieved

a. Building dialogue between research and society
Great impact. They interact directly and work together.

b. Co-creation of new knowledge
They work together in finding solutions to the problems and needs of the community.

c. Creating positive impact in society
Big impact. They work together for attracting funds for the projects.

d. Empower citizens to contribute by expressing their real needs and problem
Great impact. They participate in common meetings to develop new methods in dealing with the challenges of the community

e. Another

Number of beneficiaries who have learnt the method through the project: Around 1000

Measurement tool: By number of volunteers involved and by number of activities/projects proposed or developed in the community.


This is a Scie-Citizen Smart Practice

This project links society and science because “‘Proiect Pro Europa Association’ – APPE, is a non-profit organisation, established in 2014 by a teacher and her husband. We started in organising small activities in the community (before 2014) with the help of other members in the community. At some point, we meet with experts in TON Foundation and started discussing how we can get more involved in the community by using all the technology, information and science.

We participated at the training held by TON Foundation and after some years of building the courage, we decided to make their organisation: ‘Asociatia Proiect Pro Europa’ – APPE.

After just 5 years, we have a lot of projects and activities to be proud with: projects of growing the knowledge of the members, training in adult education (participating or being partners in implementation), applications written and being financed, awards gained by the coordinators of the Association.”

Participants are involved in applying the method in their community/peer group since “The participants have a desire to be involved in the growing of the community and of the level of opportunities they can access. We teach them until we can develop them into an association, in an institution with own management, with juridical responsibility.

All of the development is made by training with involvement of the members from the community but having at the basis a science – the development from bottom-up – ‘Growing Bottom-Up’ – of the community, from the citizen to up.

They make discovery-based learning, research, direct and concrete creative experience, by attending meetings, going to trainings, in international mobilities.”



Achieved potential to fullfill Scie-Citizen project smart practice:


Technical table:

First time the method has been applied2012
Times the method has been iteratedMore than 10 times
Duration of the implementation process for each application of the methodSince 2012 in The Open Network for Community Development, but the method started before the 1989 Revolution in Romania, by the aid provided to the communities in Romania by the informal groups in Belgium.
Geographical coverage of the method: What’s the context you can apply the method?National
Is there any other organisation applying or adapting the method?Yes
Can you describe shortly how other organisations might adapt or have already adapted the method?In every community citizens can gather and act in the interest of the development they are living in. With the involvement of citizens through science and education, through teaching to develop the community.
In which sectors is this method applicable?Non-governmental sector
What are the goals you achieve with the method?To increase the involvement of the citizen in the development of projects and programs that aid to the strategy of development of the government sector. This can be made by attracting more funding in the community and by raising the level of adult learning programs.
How many scientists/researchers you need to perform the method? What is their role?2 – open minded persons that have the knowledge and desire to develop the community. They can help the members of the community get together and develop local projects.
How many non-scientists/researchers you need to perform the method? What is their role?2-3 people that have the desire to volunteer for community development activities and projects.
How long has it take to have first results/ effects noticeable?In general, the effects are visible after the first meeting in the community. The desire of the members is very big. They just need the information that the use of science is at their hand and that they can do a change in community they live in.
How would you define the process of your project?Bottom–up: How the method works/What we do:
– take an informal group;
– train them;
– bring them to your trainings and meetings;
– teach them until they can develop themselves into an association, in an institution with own management, with juridical responsibility;
– all of the development is made by training with involvement of the members from the community but having at the basis a science – the development from bottom-up; – ‘Growing Bottom-Up’ – of the community, from the citizen to up.

How to involve science at the same time:
– involve European policies;
– involve the citizen;
– involve teaching;
– have as the basis of science – development from bottom-up.

How does the documentation of the results look like?All the organisations and the activities are documented on the website and on the Annual Report of the organisation.
What makes your project innovative?The ‘Growing bottom-up’ method can be used in all kind of structures. In schools, the teachers can use science to teach the students to do the same development of the community, by learning new and creative ways to learn, to use the technology.
How have you promoted/do you promote your project?Social media;
Printed materials (flyer, brochure, annual reports);
Mass-media articles.
What are the strengths of your project?In every community, citizens can gather and act in the interest of the development they are living in. With the involvement of citizens through science and education, through teaching to develop the community.
What are the weaknesses of your project?Dependent on the projects and fundraising of citizens, no budget from the local/national authorities.
What are the opportunities you can see for your project?Possibility to take action in the development of the community needs and act on the priorities of the members, not expecting for the strategies of the authorities to align with the needs and wishes of the citizens.
What are the threats you can see for your project?Decreasing of the involvement of the citizen in the development of projects and programs that aid the strategy of development of the government sector. Ageing of the population and departure of the young citizens to big cities or other countries.
Tell us a success story/anecdote related to your projectIn 2016, APPE has implemented the project Alternative Learning Laboratory – Funded by Vodafone Romania Foundation and Community Support Foundation, Investments for Sustainable Communities.

The activities in the project were addressed to all children in the Vatra Moldoviţei schools and have been of the laboratory type, ie discovery-based learning, research, direct and concrete creative experience.

Active learning that aims to train the child in the process of teaching, to show him how to learn, to help him in later learning, to gradually transform him into a “creative thinker”.


Suggestion, recommendation, feedback?