Active Citizens Trained to Communicate Effectively Online

Bulgarian active citizens and NGOs trained in Goritsa, near Karadere beach

Over 30 members of civic initiatives and NGOs upgraded their online communication skills at a training workshop held by, in partnership with Init Lab and The event took place on September 11-13, 2015 in Goritsa - a Black Sea coastal village near the popular wild camping beach Karadere.

The training curriculum took participants across the stages of preparing information contents for the purpose of their NGO campagns, posting it online and promoting it through social networks. BlueLink's co-founder and Executive Editor Dr Pavel Antonov opened the training and introduced participants to various style and formatting requirements of writing text for the web. BlueLink's European Projects' Associate Eva Stoyanova offered practical tips for taking and processing photos for online publications. Renown video blogger and journalist Yvo Bojkov introduced participants to video capturing, editing and streaming online, while InitLab founder Vladimir Vassilev offered an intriduction to open source content management systems such as WordPress and Drupal and led participants to constructing their first web sites in WordPress environment. Antonov then presented the features and functionalities of the specialised social networking and content sharing portall web site at and most workshop participants joined the ever growing activist user network of BlueLink.

Anton Stoychev of announced for the first time the newly launched public participation platform The site is built as part of the YouthLink project, co-funded by the NGOs Support Programme for Bulgaria of the EEA Grants and implemented in partnership by BlueLink, Init Lab and The site is designed to function as a intuitive online gateway for citizens willing to send feedback, alert or file a complaint with any institutions of the state, municipal authorities, utility service providers and others. It builds upon the previous experience of the project implementing partners in developing and maintaining similar web interfaces for interaction between civil society and the administration. The workshop participants gathered in Goritsa provided valuable feedback to the developers of the site.

The core team of the Let's Save Karadere civic initiative, campaiging for the protection of the local area from illegal construction and excessive urbanisation, held an extra day's session on strategic communications planning as part of the workshop. "The event was of immense value for our group and we feel stronger and better equipped now," said the initiative's coordinator Lyuba Batembergska. Let's Save Karadere has over 5 000 members in a Facebook group and has been successful in keeping shady investors, local and national authorities at bay from destroying Karadere - one of Bulgaria's last remaining stretches of pristine coastline, protected under EU's Natura 2000 network of protected areas.

One of the purposes of the orgnaisers was to demonstrate the potential of small communities like Goritsa for alternative nature-friendly village tourism. "We are proud to have just held the first such event in Goritsa, accomodating all participants in local people's houses, dining at Pancho's famous local family restaurant, and working in the local chitalishte (traditional community culture house) which was hooked to the internet for the first time," said Antonov. The workshop's closing and certificates' handling ceremony (picture above) coincided with the launching of the Prohibited Referendum campagn of the Civic Participation Forum.

The activities were implemented as part of the YouthLink: Web instruments and capacity for civic oversight, advocoacy  and impact project, co-funded by the NGO Support Programme for Bulgaria of the EEA Grants. All responsibility for the content of this text lies with the BlueLink Foundation. It does not originate from, represent, and cannot be attributed in any circumstance to the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area or the grants Operator.