Initiative Cookbook – Homemade Civic Engagement.

How could we equip people with the necessary tools and approaches to help them implement their civic initiative and motivate them to become civically engaged? How to present the broad topic of project management in the most realistic and practical way? How can the development of ideas, planning, stakeholders, PR, fundraising and financial management be presented in the least technocratic way? These were the questions we asked the editorial team of Heike Fahrun, Nils-Eyk Zimmermann, Eliza Skowron and designer Maxim Neroda.

After many trainings and seminars in different countries, we wanted to share, elaborate and offer our experience to other people. That is why the idea of creating a different kind of project management handbook was born. Since 2015, thanks to MitOst and Working Between Cultures, we have been able to realise this vision by publishing this handbook for readers in German, English, Russian, Ukrainian, Arabic and Turkish.

The difference to other manuals should be in language. We liked the cookbook metaphor because cooking appeals to the senses and stimulates curiosity and creativity. “What we like could be liked by others”, we thought, “engagement should be passion and curiosity and only when necessary should it have the character of management and method! Both cooking and civic initiatives can be sensual, purposeful, cooperative and an evolving process. Both are learning spaces, have a social impact and support the individual development of the people involved.

People in the Focus

For us, three things were key. In many trainings, coachings or workshops we have experienced how important the authentic motivation and vision of each participant is for successful engagement. Tools and techniques need to be facilitated around this vision and leave enough space for it to emerge.

Screenshot Initiativen-Kochbuch
Screenshot Initiative Cookbook

Engagement can be learned by everyone

Secondly, our experience is that everyone is able to engage successfully. Isn’t the basic assumption behind the idea of civil society and active citizenship that engagement is a competence that can be learned, cultivated and developed throughout life, together with other citizens? With this in mind, we have focused on issues that we are convinced have been tried and tested and are relevant to many people. We believe in what we have written and have rejected some overly academic models.

Engagement is methodological knowledge and an ethical attitude

Thirdly, civic engagement is a balance between knowledge of methods and individual attitudes to values. Engagement – but for what? We have therefore presented the ethical and democratic aspects of civic engagement in an integrated way. For example, team and stakeholder management has a technical and an ethical aspect. Who is ultimately allowed to participate or not? How seriously do we take diversity and special needs in our local environment? These questions are too often neglected in PM training. And at the end people regret, but more in theory – we would have liked to have done it differently and more participatively, but sorry, the circumstances, no resources, no money…

The handbook is published in: