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Radosveta Krastanova: My Place for a Future

Radosveta Krastanova:

I commonly argue with friends, students, and colleagues about the sense of being active in Bulgaria. The conversation – emotional, skeptical or radiating touching indulgence from my interlocutor’s side – unalterably comes to one point –

We, the Bulgarian, are good-for-nothing people, the most aggrieved on the Balkans, , our country is the most unorganized of all possible, our nature – the worst protected, the roads- full of pot-holes, our infrastructure and culture – beneath criticism, the education – antediluvian, the politicians – the most unconcerned and corrupted and so on and so forth.

Our compatriots are ignorant, rough-mannered, stuck in chalga-pop folk music; furthermore lacking initiative, unmotivated, and incompetent.

However, not long ago I had a similar conversation with two of my students. They were complaining against the ignorance in Bulgaria and just like Aleko, were asking themselves “Switzerland or…?” When I asked them if they were not a piece of the same picture, they started a heated argument – their parents were different, they had chance upon relatives, teachers, friends, they were born in good social environment, they had genetically set talents. I asked them if their negative observations concern me. “In no way. How could you even think of it?” My parents? – Obviously no – being my parents they have, to a great extent, formed me, to be the person I am now. I started to extend the range of suspects – named other colleagues, lecturers, my students’ relatives – here the answer was all the same: “We are not talking about these people; they are from those OTHER people… You know what we are talking about, don’t pretend you do not understand.”

It turns out that when it comes to being concrete, the conversation sinks in schizophrenia – those conclusions refer to the OTHERS, but not for me, my parents, and my friends.

And it is so because…

The Bulgarian as an individual is a measure of intelligence, resourcefulness and adaptability, of success and flexibility, but only when they are in another, well organized, standardized and cultivated environment…

The conclusion goes without saying – I am capable and gifted, the problem is either in the system, or in the OTHERS. The way to escape is to run. Run out- abroad, or run in – in ourselves, in the more and more limited circle of friends.

Our dreams reach the same – we dream how to escape from the reality in Bulgaria, not how to make it better. Because the way to live better in Bulgaria is to work together with the OTHERS, and to work with them we must have our own, but common project for future…


A Bulgarian man from Sliven, chairman a of a local association, succeeded to prove expertly, that the water in the sewerage of the city is not suitable for drinking, because it is rusty, and for this reason unusable, and to go to law against the respective ВИК for discrimination against the population.

A few young people in love with the magic of Irakli, succeeded materials at hand, a lot of enthusiasm and twenty-four-hour dogged work (мостmost of the people hardly even realize the last of these things) to make the region a legend, their actions – a national movement, and the campaign “Save Irakli” – one of the few bright and significant symbols of the civil activity in Bulgaria.

A little civil association from a little settlement nearby Sofia, succeeded through a referendum to announce that it objects to go on living near a radioactive dung-hill.

A few organizations, associations, groups, and just citizens got over their differences, joined their efforts and created the coalition For the Nature

There are even more examples. What is nice, is that they are much more that we can even imagine. What is bad is that these people fairly know each other and this makes them weak and vulnerable. They miss a tribune, a meeting place, a room to share their experience, to talk about their problems and successes, to pass their message.

We decided PLACE FOR PUTURE to be this place. A place where students, lecturers, experts, lovers of nature, or just people with bright, active position, could meet each other. A place where good examples become visible. A place where, everyone, who is interested, can find information, learn something and pass it to the others, that way expanding the network of aware and active people.

We plan this place to settle in the university area, and to become a centre of information, discussions, debates, a tribune for the good practices, which medias hardly, rarely and tendentiously do (not) reflect. PLACE FOR FUTURE already finds its place in the educational programs of the departments, faculties, universities.

PLACE FOR FUTURE is a community of joint people, for whom the professional competency complements the civil expression, and the civil position creates bright personalities.

Our aim is to show, that among us there are people, living in the present, but creating future by their actions. People, who do not wait for the Good to come, but are happy with the timely, even small, actions. This way we will demonstrate that public society and civil activity in Bulgaria are not only a good wish, something living in politicos’ fantasies, but a real state.

We wish to make the island of public community a significant archipelago.

And my personal wish is to convince my students and colleagues to join this project, in order to extend its message and pass it like a baton…

There is an idea of succession, stability, development…

There is an idea of Future…

* * *

  • The Green Movement and the Green Parties in Bulgaria: Between System Integration and System Change

Petar Kanev – A Place for the Future? or Despite the Slops

‘The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were!’

John F. Kennedy

Petar Kanev


I don’t know how to name, what happens with everything alive- souls, people, animals, nature- nowadays, here in Bulgaria, especially on the Black Sea coast. Chalga-Pop folk music, kitsch, ignorance, criminality, corruption – these words are weak, trite and insufficient to describe the disgusting reality we are sinking in. I think the most accurate metaphor is slops.

The slops gradually flood everything and everyone – words, people, Medias, towns, seas, and mountains. The least we can do is to state freely and clearly, that we do not want it! And this won’t be a little act, if we do it all the possible ways, by all the possible means – however and whenever everyone can, but what is most important – uninterruptedly and constantly, really all of us. I will start with a small act against the slops – something inmost. It is also a dedication to all the people, who made something despite the despair, the misery, the tiredness, the personal obligations, and the problems, and despite the slops.I wrote this text in the heat of the campaign „Save Irakli” in summer 2006. Since then my pessimism and despair become paler with every little thing against the slops, I do daily. This is the result, when someone makes something little every day, and in the little things originates a community of people, a common spirit, a common mood, a moving from one place to another…


Not a dream, not a project, not a Utopia. A real existing place, where a lot of little revolutions happen… They start inside you, inside your head, inside your body, and your mind – and they come outside you, for example, because you are not alone, and ferry from one to another like a chain reaction, like the energy through the neurons.

When, a few years ago, the coincidence of circumstances throw me in a concrete problem, several consecutive lightening flashed across my mind:

It is not possible a nightmare like this to happen!

It is not possible such dedicated, worthy people to exist nowadays! Why I haven’t heard of them?

It is impossible these people to be so many! I have never imagined they exist, and they have been around us all the time! They are not seen in the Medias, nobody knows about them, who could imagine there exists a civil movement in our country?

How will I look upon myself, if I do not support these people somehow?

We are not alone!

Oh, what can happen! There is a magic, a good sorcery, the wonder is with us!

This movement is like the life, once entered it, the only way back is a suicide…

In a few years the PLACE FOR FUTURE sprouted and grew up. It needs a lot of cares, and we will probably not see the product of it. The care of it- this is the gift we get. And we need the place for future, because it can happen even on a place without future. And if the solidarity, active civil position, social connection among people are still a forgotten memory from the distant past for us, I think this can change, as we start from the beginning like pioneers, today- not tomorrow, here- not anywhere else. A lot of little daily examples, sustainable and constant, create the real communities of people, society, culture, politics, and development. Do they still make sense? Only they make sense. The sense of the mantra of sustainable development.

Everything started from the emotions and in their shock new horizons gradually spread out – the necessity of more common sense, more awareness, and more light. And the place where this can happen is the place where people learn and develop. A place where future sprouts is the education. What will this future be depends on each of us.

We often hear that every effort is useless, except from the effort to regularize your own life at the expense of the others, that there are no common values, but only objective occurrences. One common value however is inside us – the preservation of life. To defeat life means to be dead.

I am happy we have succeeded so far, and I can repeat my one-time words.

I dedicate this project to all the people, who made something despite the despair, the misery, the tiredness, the personal obligations, and the problems, and despite the slops.

   * * *


D-r Petar Kanev – Models of Interaction between Ethno-Religious Communities in Central and South-East Rhodope Mountains (Bulgaria)

Dr. Petar Kanev – The Global Criminalization as a Local Problem

Kalin Nenov

Kalin Nenov – coordinator of the virtual campaign of Place for Future, translator, editor

Civic activity

: core member of the Human Library Foundation, creator and coordinator of MREDJAN (a civic action network), participant in “Ecological and practical” (a Bulgarian educational website)

Civic experience: volunteer in Green Balkans, For the Earth (Za Zemiata), For the Nature; participant in over 500 international environmental electronic campaigns; “specializes” in forest protection, climate change, and the role of personal choices

Occupation: translator, student

Academic qualifications: BA in English Language and Culture at NBU; currently doing a Master’s degree in Translation, again at NBU – European masters in translation also there.

Professional and non-professional experience:

here (in Bulgarian only)

Two words: connect, holism

Contact: kalin.nenov in

МиниизображениеKalin NENOV (NBU, Shtastlivetsa)

The Human Library – Alternative Culture and Society of XXI Century 

lecture at the Traveling university and Summer school for sustainable regional development ‘Place for Future: Chiprovtsi 2013′ 3-9 June 2013 Chiprovtsi, Bulgaria

Georgi Stefanov – The Begining of Place for Future

Georgi Stefanov

It was in the summer of 2007: a hot, very hot summer, as well for the weather, as for the emotions of the young, protesting people, in the streets, defending the nature, our nature, Bulgarian nature, of which all of us are so proud, but hurried in everyday works, we have forgotten about its uniqueness.

Probably most of the spectators on the sidewalks and in the cars were very interested in what these young people wanted. For protests for higher wages or pensions, were common events, but these young people wanted something else: to have a future, and an opportunity to ensure their children at least with what they had had- a sip of fresh air, clean mountain water, and places, that can take your breath away…

Then, in the heat of the big city, on a meeting for a mug of beer, came the idea for the project “PLACE FOR FUTURE”. Tired of all the things happening around us, the total neglecting of laws, and the way we rapidly lose our unique nature, Petar and Radi were looking for followers, together with whom to realize the idea of “PLACE FOR FUTURE”.

For me, the idea was clear and absolutely timely. Only a few years earlier, in the beginning of the millennium, the problems were much less, but the people working in the sphere of environment protection also were a few dozens. I can definitely say that things are much different now.

Today there is a new generation of people. People, who realize that a lot of things depend on them, that they can change their future, and that a false step today, would surely lead to difficulties tomorrow. We rely exactly on people like these, people with public-spirited conscience, people with ideas, responsible to the up-coming generations, people who have realized where humanity goes, and the fatal consequences we can come to, if we do not take measures, NOW AND IMMEDIATELY.

My personal view coincide the whole conception of the project. The aim of PLACE FOR FUTURE is to unite the liberty-loving people, with “unaffected souls”, who have a vision of the important things in our existence, and in the same time to help each other. There are a lot of these people in the university circles, and this is why the main field of activity is right there. These young active people are tomorrow’s heralds of the idea of the new modern future.

PLACE FOR FUTURE is a project, which aims to unite and help all these active students and citizens, who, in certain moments, have been misunderstood by their colleagues, friends, and relatives. PLACE FOR FUTURE is just the field of activity and enriching ourselves with others’ ideas.

PLACE FOR FUTURE has one main aim – to create a premise for a better future, with many happy people and less problems.

Radosveta Krastanova

* * *

Radosveta Krastanova is an assistant professor at the New Bulgarian University. She teaches environmental policy and sustainable development to bachelor and master program students at the Departments of Political Science and Economics and Business Administration. Since 2008, she has been working on her doctoral thesis concerning civic participation in the Green Movement in Bulgaria within the framework of a joint doctoral program between the New Bulgarian University and the University of Burgundy, Dijon, France.

Radosveta Krastanova specialized at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom (2008), and at the University of Burgundy (2006, 2012). She is member of the research team with the House of the Humanities (La Maison des Sciences de l’Homme de Dijon) in Dijon, France which studies the behavior and attitudes of citizens to the environmental problems and policies. She has a number of publications in Bulgarian, French and English on the new forms of citizen and political mobilization in modern democracies, especially on the “New green wave” in Bulgaria, underlying the motivation of the civic participation in environmental issues. She is co-author and editor (together with Peter Kanev) of the collection entitled “A Place for the Future. Year One.”, Sofia, Sofia Civic Association – “Shtastlivetsa”, 2009 containing articles and studies of researchers, experts, journalists, and students on topical subjects connected with ecology, environmentalism, sustainable development, civic participation and citizen empowerment.

At the same time, Radosveta is Chairperson of the Sofia Civic Association – “Shtastlivetsa”, a member of the civic coalition set up for the resolution of the solid waste disposal crisis in Sofia (2005 – 2006), and an active member of the National Environmental Coalition “For the Nature” from its inception in 2006 to the present day. Over the last three years, this “Shtastlivetsa” Association has been establishing contacts and organizing interaction events among various civic society actors ( the academic community, the NGO sector, the business community, and the local authorities), and has been promoting the introduction of sustainable development as both an academic discipline and student practice on the level of university education, in the framework of the educational network PLACE FOR FUTURE

Radosveta Krestanova – International coordinator for ‘Place for Future’ Interdisciplinary Education Network

Civic activity: Chairperson of the Board of Shtastlivetsa Sofia Civic Association

Civic experience: Coalition “Zero Waste” Coalition “For the Nature”

Occupation: lecturer, department Political Science in French language, New Bulgarian University (NBU)

Academic qualifications: Master of French Philology, specialization – translation; Assistant in French Language for Political Scientists; PhD student in Political Science at NBU and the University of Burgundy at Dijon, France

Professional and non-professional experience: Studio for Feature Films “Vreme”, Bulgarian National Radio, Editor’s office for Bulgarians abroad, Club for Literature and Philosophy “IDIOT” (1995-2003), Publishing House “Arges”, Publishing House “Kama” , “Europe” schools, French Institute, Frankophone Agency, museum “Earth and Man”, and many other adventures…

Two words: surrealist in action

For contact: radosvetakk in,

Radosveta Krastanova: My Place for a Future

We wish to make the island of public community a significant archipelago.


Europe on a crossroad: from the EP elections towards European CitizensInitiative’: Stoil TSITSELKOV (European Association for the Defence of Human Rights – Bulgaria and Shtastlivetsa Civic Association), Radosveta KRASTANOVA (Shtastlivetsa Civic Association and New Bulgarian University).


Official Closing of the Spring University at Chiprovtsi Municipality (Ceremonial Hall): Radosveta KRASTANOVA (Shtastlivetsa Civic Association and New Bulgarian University, Sofia, Bulgaria)


СнимкаRadosveta KRASTANOVA 

Presentation at Nottingham University:

On Spontaneous Civic Movements in Defense of Bulgarian Nature

* * *

The Green Movement and the Green Parties in Bulgaria: Between System Integration and System Change – a new book by Radosveta Krastanova



  • Part I: The Green Movement as a Dissident Movement
    Origins and Emergence of the Green Movement in Bulgaria The Inspirations of the Dissident Movement in Bulgaria: Environmental Humanitarianism, Ecological Issues, Human Rights Activity, and Social Change From Global Change to Local Action
  • Part II: The Green Movement as a Non-Governmental Organization

    From Dissident Politics to European Policies: Professionalization and Europeanization of the Green Movement Establishment and Consolidation of the Environmentalist NGOs Institutionalization of the Environmental Issues by Making Them Part of the Political Agenda
  • Part III: The Green Movement as a Civic Movement of a New Type or the “New Green Wave”

    The Green Movement within the Post-Transition Context: New Challenges, New Issues, New Actors
    Civic Green Policy
    From Local Campaigns to a Global Change
    From a Grassroots Movement to the Establishment of a New Green Party
  • Part IV. The Green Movement and the Green Parties
    Parties of the Change and Parties of the Status-quoConclusion
  • The development and distinctiveness of the Green Movement and the green parties in Bulgaria reflect the intricate logic of the transformations, which have been taking place in Bulgarian society over the past quarter of a century. The actors of the Green Movement have responded to these processes both in the direction of system integration and – more frequently – in the direction of contesting and opposing the system, whereby in their most productive periods they have even contributed to system change.
  • Much like the green parties in the West, the Bulgarian environmental movement is the result of a social evolution promoted by a middle class that has endorsed a new type of modern culture. This middle class, however, has emerged and consolidated at a different historical time and in quite a different setting. This is the reason why it mirrors peculiarities that are common for the civic movements in the countries of the former socialist system, but at the same time it manifests specific traits typical for the “Bulgarian model” of transition.
  • Environmentalism is one of the few causes capable of generating wide public support in Bulgarian society on an ongoing basis. During the three stages of its evolution (the “dissident” period from the end of the 1980s, the “NGO” period during the 1990s, and the “new green wave” of the first decade of the 21st century), the Movement has been expressing public discontent, has defended public interest against private interests clad in power, and has been a unifying factor of the broad moral opposition against the practices of the political status quo. The Green Movement has also been manifesting the national attachment to Nature, the deep cultural roots of which span over centuries.
  • Despite its achievements, the Green Movement has failed to embed an autonomous and influential green party of its own in the institutions of power. The Movement – Party relationships are problematic. What has gained the upper hand is the logic that the Green Movement should go without a party and that the green parties should be outside the Green Movement. The reason why is that parties take environmentalism on board to the purpose of coming to power but afterwards they rapidly get marginalized.
  • The willpower for direct civic participation in the decision-making processes over the last years has marked a new stage in the development of the Green Movement. After 2005, the consolidation of the environmentalist community into a civic coalition named “For Nature in Bulgaria to Stay” and the establishment of a new green formation determined to represent an authentic environmental party (the Greens), have set up prerequisites for launching an autonomous environmental project in Bulgaria. The volatility of the party system and the voter disappointment with the parties of the status quo now have opened opportunities for new political actors to emerge.
  • The integration of the environmental project goes through the lasting inclusion of the green priorities on the agendas of all political parties and in the country’s policy at large. So far, the Bulgarian political system is far from envisaging an objective like this. The role of a catalyst to these processes once again falls on the shoulders of civic society embodied by the Green Movement, whereas the hopes for a “green breakthrough” in the system will continue to be linked to the synergy between this Movement and an authentic Green Party.
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