June 7, 2014, 4:43 p.m.

Let’s go slowly because we have a long way to go

After meeting with Ricardo and Marco from the citizen movement Congresso Democrático das Alternativas (CDA) we had time to drop our things at the hostel, before meeting with Academia Cidadã, the citizenship academy. They had prepared an interactive introduction to their work, a little game they also perform to welcome new members to the group.


Academia Cidadã is not a Lisbon or Portuguese association, but an ‘association of neighbours’ says Catarina. It aims to empower people to make changes to their worlds. “We really need a big change, I think that every day,” says Joana. “But we have to start with one thing at a time.” And Joao ads: “Let’s go slowly because we have a long way to go.”


Academia Cidadã originated in response to the economic crisis. People were protesting because they were not happy with the political and economic situation. The core idea of the academy is to integrate knowledge and action – and there are a number of ways how they aim to do so: Academia Cidadã wants to bridge points, in order to develop synergies between people and civic initiatives which promote social change. They are an incubator of ideas, providing consultancy and advisory support to civic, cultural and social intervention projects. Moreover, they are developing a school for citizenship to coach and empower social change actors and they created a cultural action group, acting for civically engaged arts and culture. They’ve set up both a living laboratory for democracy, to push for sustainability to research and experiment new sustainability paradigms, as well as a laboratory for democracy. And last but not least the academy initiated a documentation centre on active citizenship in partnership with the national library. This is an impressive range of activities on active citizenry!


And: The founders just won the European Citizenship Award for 2014, which European Alternatives was also nominated for. Congratulations!


In the evening, we were invited to a buffet with LIVRE, a new Portuguese party formed about 6 months ago, who were celebrating their new headquarters in Lisbon. LIVRE stands for political values of the left political spectrum and is pro European, a combination for which they saw a need in Portugal. Rui Tavares and LIVRE are great supporters of the citizenspact, since many of LIVRE’s policies are similar to the proposals in the citizenspact manifesto. LIVRE’s political demands include the vanquishing of austerity and deregulated capitalism for example through the abolition of the budgetary treaty and through the restructuring of the banking system, the achievement of a high level of social, economic and environmental development, for example by introducing a basic income, the creation of a true union of fundamental rights, such as free public education for all, the creation of a European democracy for everybody, for example through the strengthening of the European Parliament’s role in co-decision.


At the end of the day, Rui and Marta showed us one of their favourite Cape Verdean bars, where we sampled Cape Verdean rum and made attempts to dance to traditional life music. It was a great end to a day filled with lots of activities and impressions, and also an appropriate introduction to what was planned for the next day…

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