European Intercultural Festival, Superkot, European College of Liberal Arts - Belarus Civil Society Digest

European Intercultural Festival to be held on September 4-14 in Belarus. CES launches the European College of Liberal Arts.

4th Belarus Reality Check is to be held in Riga. CSO networks announce calls for small projects - National Youth Council RADA and Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs.

Belarusians are asked to invent and define a contemporary graphic symbol of unity of the Belarusians.

Festivals and Other Events

European Intercultural Festival 2014. On September 4-14, the European Intercultural Festival will take place in Minsk, Mahiliou, Hrodna and Brest. The main goal of friendly and creative team of CSOs in cooperation with diplomatic missions, media and other partners is to create for ten days the European atmosphere, as well as to provide sites for information and skills exchange in the field of culture and education.

The agenda is available here. The organizers are Office for a Democratic Belarus, Office for European Expertise and Communication, Fond of Ideas.

Eco-Cultural Festival in Minsk. The Minsk Gallery Ў, Ecodom NGO, Agro-Eco-Culture non-profit institution and Green Alliance invite to the annual Eco-Cultural Festival, which traditionally takes place in the Gallery Ў, on August 30. The program includes the closure of the exhibition Mutual Relationship, presentations, workshops, concerts, wine and organic products from the Belarusian farmers.

The 4th International Congress of Belarusian Studies presents a list of 15 thematic sections. The annual Congress will take place on 3-5 October 3-5, 2014, in Kaunas, Lithuania and aims to promote a deeper understanding of Belarus in academic and civil communities of the country, region and world. The organising committee has also announced a short list of the 2014 Congress Award for the best publication; the award ceremony will take place at the Congress.

4th Belarus Reality Check is to be organized on September 11, in Riga, Latvia. Western and Belarusian experts will discuss the latest developments in the Belarus' relations with U.S., EU and Russia as well as the upcoming presidential elections in Belarus. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia is joining EESC and Pact to the organization of the event.

Initiatives for People with Disabilities

Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is launching a new project on Improvement of the quality of work to protect the rights and legitimate interests of employees with disabilities. This project is implemented in cooperation with the independent trade union REP with the assistance of the branch of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Russia. Lawyers and representatives of trade union organizations will be trained to work on the field of protection the rights of employees with disabilities.

Eco-path for people with disabilities. A unique path of natural experiences for people with disabilities will appear soon in Grodno region. The path will be created by local initiative ‘Creating a barrier-free environmental education paths and places of recreation for families with children with disabilities’ within the USAID/UNDP project ‘Local entrepreneurship and economic development’. The initiative belongs to Sergei Vavilov who won one of 30 mini-grants. The Grodno authorities and CSOs also support the project.

Education

Study visit on freedom of associations. The Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs and Legal Transformation Center Lawtrend invite to participate in a visit to Vilnius and Budapest to study the modern standards of freedom of associations and legal conditions of non-profit organizations. The program is open to representatives of all sectors - private, public, and commercial. The visit will take place in October; application deadline is September 12.

Center of European Studies is launching a new education project in Minsk - European College of Liberal Arts in Belarus (ECLAB). The main goal of ECLAB is to provide the Belarusian youth with an alternative program of humanitarian education that will contribute to Belarus integration into the common European space. At the very beginning ECLAB will function as a project of non-formal education. However, their next goal is to accredit college programs with the help of partner universities in the countries of the European Union.

Campaigns and Civil Initiatives

Charity shop KaliLaska will reopen if collects $5,000 donations. KaliLaska/You are Welcome is the first charity offline shop in Belarus. It opened in April 2013 and worked for 13 months. During this time the shop collected second hand clothes, shoes, books and transferred them to the vulnerable groups – in total, 12 tons of things and help for 13 charity organizations. To reopen - pay rent, repair and equipment - shop announces collecting donations.

Shelter Superkot spent all the money on the treatment of animals and now to be closed. The first non-state Minsk shelter for animals Superkot states his distress due to lack of money. Superkot was opened in Minsk about 5 years ago and existed solely on donations. Each year the shelter "parked" to 1 thousand cats.

Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs announces a competition of Small Deeds 2014. The project call is open for CSOs, which are members of the Assembly of NGOs, and have ideas that can strengthen civil society in Belarus. Priority is given to activities aimed at identifying active and value-motivated people for their involvement in the civil activity, conducting local and national public awareness campaigns, etc. The project budget shouldn't exceed $1,500. Applications are accepted up to September 30.

Let's Make It Better 2014 campaign initiated by the Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs continues to extend its influence across Belarus via local CSOs. Utulny krai/Comfortable region initiative assisted residents of Groznovo village to appeal to local authorities; Baranovichi branch of TBM organized the Festival dedicated to the city historical founder; Zvyaz/Union youth CSO conducted the first amateur tournament backgammon in Orsha; Mova ci Kava/Language or Coffee initiative launches a campaign To teach others to speak Belarusian, etc. The campaign’s press releases are available here.

Symbol of national unity to be identified. The Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs with information support Art Siadzibaand Radio Svaboda offers Belarusians to invent and define a contemporary graphic symbol of unity of the Belarusians in the manifestation of their independent position. The suggestions from artists, designers, and all the interested are accepted until August 31.

Ibikeminsk invites to put the finishing point of the project. On August 30, Ibikeminsk brand that promotes the image of Minsk as a bike-friendly city, invites to participate in the cycling cruise in the spirit of the Soviet Union. The trip will go on from the main entrance to the Minsk Gorky Park to Pobedy Park. Those who are without a bicycle, can also be a participant of a bright show, taking part in the dance and master classes in Lindy Hop.

Belarus Digest prepared this overview on the basis of materials provided by Pact. This digest attempts to give a richer picture of the recent political and civil society events in Belarus. It often goes beyond the hot stories already available in English-language media.

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