EMPATHEAST 2016: rethinking social good in times of radicalization

Empathy-driven change in Eastern Europe NOW!

In time of crisis and radicalization, where pockets of “only one truth” are multiplying across Europe and the world, arises the urgent need to rethink and reorganize our environment in order to build up new “social assets” of connectedness that are able to fill up the gaps of inequality and justice creating marginalization and isolation.

To understand and answer to growing number of social needs and deficits in Europe we believe that the resources do already exist and we only need to connect, inspire and start working towards human-centered, intuitive but also efficient answers that encompass both solution but also a  process oriented approaches. This is how we are accumulating positive social change in governance, media, civil society and business locally, nationally and internationally.

These social deficits can be filled if we create the space for that – a space of participation, engagement, know-how exchange and inclusiveness. This is why Ideas Factory created EMPATHEAST: forum for empathy-driven social change in Eastern Europe.

The main objective of EMPATHEAST is to create the playground where social innovations get born and thus to put Bulgaria and the Balkans firmly on the world map of social innovation. As a region which deals with a dysfunctional political, economic and social system on a daily basis, the Balkans are an unique ground to explore opportunities of avantguard ideas turned into realities. 

EMPATHEAST 2016 is taking place in VRATSA as the city is amongst the most rapidly depopulating in Europe and in the poorest region of EU. At the same time it is a city full of opportunities for authentic change and eager to change the situation people of all ages and backgrounds. This is why we decided to invite you to explore together the rich potential for change in the city and turn the tendencies upside-down.

Through both local and international examples EMPATHEAST 2016 aims to demonstrate how the concept of social good can be linked to sustainable models possessing the real potential to reduce poverty and cultural isolation. In bringing together empathy, efficiency and quality social impact they have the power to transform our societies in time of urgency.

In a non-conference format and variety of forms as lectures, workshops, interactive discussions, installations, games, concerts and art performances, this year's EMPATHEAST focuses on the topic of CONNECTEDNESS and social change – between different sectors, ideas, disciplines and among us as people, searching for potentials in the interconnectedness of economics, politics, education, art and culture, IT and tech, traditions and national identity to present real solutions to real problems.

We are looking for the “social glue” that connects us, creates quality human relations and serves as a counterpoint to the modern processes of disconnectedness and mistrust.

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In November 2015 the second edition of EMPATHEAST was in Sofia and focused on the topic of COMMUNITY-LED INNOVATIONS. Leading Bulgarian and international speakers and practitioners in the field of social change shared their experience, creating a space where we learned from each other through lectures, workshops, performances, games, site-specific challenges and discussions. The background of all these was one highly specific and vulnerable region in Sofia where people from different nations and religion share their dailyhood.

 In 2014 EMPATHEAST was focused on Radical participation for social change and gathered together more than 350 people from 14 countries in the city of Plovdiv which became the setting where poorly known social problems were transformed into inspiring and accessible starting points for interaction and communication. You can see more from our 2014 archive!