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Manifest

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Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.

On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

Arundhati Roy

A manifesto initiated by Ideas Factory and looking for your support

 SOCIAL CHANGE IN BULGARIAN

it is urgent to create a new world -

one of justice,

prosperity and

oriented towards happiness

3_Where are we going?

Our society urgently needs new models, systems, and organisation. And it also needs inspiration and belief in our own abilities to create them.

When the old masquerade fell in the global crisis of 2007, it became evident that the backbone of the system was broken. A system whose main purpose is ever increasing profit, regardless of the consequences, and the real price for humanity. A system that does not realise that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and that cannot advance simply at the expense of its own members. And that is the reason why this system collapsed. Attempts to reanimate and to revive the status quo have cost us billions up to now – CPR for а brain dead patient.
It is only a matter of time that this system, in reality an asystem, is transformed and slowly substituted by a multitude of other systems – freer, more natural and more intuitive. Systems, that are orientated towards the full development of human potential and that ultimately offer more than just satisfaction of material needs.

4    Invisible urgency

But we are running out of time! While we are arguing whether and if such a society is possible, who and how will help to create it, an uglier and more horrific society is taking shape, and is confidently spreading its tentacles – a society of growing inequality, poverty, hatred, and xenophobia.

A society where resources are concentrated in the hands of very few, and power, both economic and political, is drawing further away from the majority of people. This is a system void of values, nurtured by corruption, exploitation, violence and heading to ecological suicide.
Poverty, social marginalisation, denial of access to quality healthcare and education, lack of an environment for authentic entrepreneurship and the possibility to develop young people’s potential – all these are just a tiny part of the serious problems we are facing. They are consequences of this current system, in which we are unwilling to waste any more time and human potential.
Today, we cannot close our eyes, and hope that things can change without every one of us being an active part of this change.

5Our survival depends on one single word: together

Our future will be defined by whether we are able to overcome our ego, inactivity and fear of change and start genuinely looking for answers to this question:

What does a society look like where our kids can fully develop their potential, our parents can age with dignity, and we can live a fulfilled life?

To create such a society, we must find the courage to dream it, to take the risks and to break the existing models. We must dare to change its “bugged” operating system by starting from fresh principles:

– encourage a culture of cooperation, group intelligence and mutual learning, instead of competition and extreme individualism
– pluralism instead of a concentration of resources and power in economics, politics, and the media: a lot of small ones instead of a few big ones
– connections, nurturing these small ones in networks that defy space and allow good ideas to scale up through horizontal and non-formal decision-making processes that allow for co-operation and the exchanging of experiences
– encouraging creativity and the nurturing of our creative potential, instead of consumerism
– a conscious responsibility to preserve the commons we share – nature, culture, traditions, knowledge
– a realisation that people are not born with equal capacities and do not have equal opportunities – and as a consequence to live and act led by respect, solidarity and empathy towards those who are different from us
– abandon the old models of thinking and consequently the obsolete and often harmful institutions of economic and political governance that no longer reflect the changes in society
– inclusivity, making systemic corruption and its mechanisms powerless: new institutions, more intuitive and organic, based on the trust in people; institutions that include ever more people as co-creators of their own reality
– power that supports civic participation and does not dominate or suppress it. Not hollow use of concepts like democracy and freedom but a system that organically depends on its citizens
– a focus on what makes us happy, fulfilled individuals and societies, and not simply robot-like parts in a system where a person exists only to service it
– substitute the blind mantra for ever-increasing GDP with understanding and efforts towards an actual increase in the quality of life on our planet – human dignity, health, clean environment, and individuals connected in innovative communities, where they develop their full potential

6The road to change?

If we can imagine such a world that measures its advancement by the development of civic, creative and entrepreneurial potential of the individual and societies, then we can create it and substitute the fragmented life that demonises everything outside a pseudo-democratic, free-market logic.

But on this road there are no signs and there is no map. There are no ready-made answers. However, there is a real ultimatum to look for solutions. To take the road towards solutions, we must be willing to learn, try, make mistakes and try again.

Only this way can we make anything really new – new systems, models, and ideas that define the parts of this new world. We need to actively participate and create the possibility of change, instead of assuming the role of voluntarily marginalised bystanders.

There is not a single person, ideology or organisation that holds all the answers and that we can follow dutifully! It is an unrealistic expectation. We all, separately and as a whole, hold the responsibility to develop solutions.

Although Bulgaria is the focus of this text, similar problems exist in every corner of our planet and the only way to address these challenges is to confess our frustration and turn it into creative energy; become part of the tribe of explorers: people who exchange ideas, knowledge and experience; who share and make decisions together.

No one will hold the copyright on the innovations of the future, innovations that one by one will become parts of mini visions that will form a bigger new vision.
And no, there will not be a grand opening of a new world, we are sorry to say this.

To make a fair society first we must learn to be honest, with ourselves and with others. We must also make a clear choice in decision-making and learn to apply it in practice: working together with instead of for communities, vulnerable groups, and society.

We must build new models from the bottom up, inclusive and connected in networks; networks that support the accumulation of separate small innovations; innovations that scale up and become real alternatives. Their results will trigger a natural turning point – an avalanche of change.

This way we share responsibility and give real meaning to the word empower.

2To confess that we do not know – the way to social innovations

The road to change is also a game, as it was in the traditional societies, the most effective form to gain experience and knowledge and to find new, not clichéd solutions. To do so there is only one approach – admitting that we do not hold all the answers and learning based on challenges. This way, playing the game of social change is a very logical path that cannot but take us to the right place – if we are sincere and honest about innovation – new experience are inevitable.

Social innovations are created when we declare that we do not hold the answers to fundamental questions and find the courage and strength to look for them – embarking on a journey where we make new models of relationships between individuals, groups and communities. And there is no universal solution, only local solutions defined by the specific context.
This will take time, but it is time, in which we are the creators of our own world, and not just passers by, considering only how more effectively to consume the world, cut it, melt it and finally, destroy our place in it!

It is vital that we become more efficient at using our common resources. Only with innovative solutions by and with communities can we reduce the costs for non-effective and expensive social solutions, perpetually repeated by local and central government despite their proven ineffectiveness. So we need to change the way these solutions are designed and move towards developing solutions bottom-up, as they are more stable, honest, adequate and inclusive.

Once developed, social innovation models can be increased in scale and scope and implemented to solve not only local but also global problems. If we allow ourselves to live the change, with time these models will substitute current institutions, as it is already happening on a micro level.

Social innovations are not a solution to all problems, they are not enough per se, but they represent a way for mass mobilisation of group intellect in the name of new solutions that will allow more people on the planet, in our country and our region, to live with dignity and to their full potential.

Bulgaria and Eastern Europe have the chance right here and now not only to assert our place on the world map of social innovations, but also to show and lead the way for a region that has been left in the vacuum of incessant political, economic and ethnic tension; and to turn these sharp discrepancies into new solutions, and the region into a laboratory for glocal positive social change.

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