Democracy Quarter in Kuldiga
We believe that democracy is a value because it gives everyone the greatest freedom to achieve their goals, but it is also difficult because we need to be competent in exercising our freedom.
We believe that communities have great power, because together we can do much more than individually, but we need to learn how to work together and be able to trust each other.
And we believe that a suitable environment can serve as a magnet to bring together more and more people who believe (or eventually start to believe) that democracy is a value and that there is strength in the community, thus helping society to become more democratic and more cohesive.
For these reasons, we are creating a Democracy Quarter in Kuldiga.
What it is
Democracy Quarter is located in the picturesque town Kuldiga (Latvia) which is proud of its historical heritage – ancient buildings, tile roofs and well preserved urban structure that has remained since the Duchy of Courland. Besides these historical values, in Kuldiga Old Town you can find former industrial territory where local (and not only local) activists develop a place for experiencing democracy. It is planned to develop Democracy Quarter as a local community centre, and in long-term as international Democracy residency and a centre of civic competences and innovations.
The idea of The Quarter originated in 2019, when the first Democracy Café took place. It is a conversation night during which the visitors are randomly seated around several café tables to discuss topics relevant to society. In 2021 this annual event transformed into a Democracy Festival that was self-made and made for ourselves (at the same time – open for everybody) celebration of democracy organized by local community and other people who were interested to take part. The result was a plentiful 2-day programme that contained discussions, workshops, theatre plays (to watch and to participate), possibility to taste (literary) the democracy and other ways of experiencing democracy. In order to continue this event on a daily basis the organisers kept on working to develop the festival venue into a permanent place that would hold similar activities all year round, year by year.
Why it is needed
Democracy Quarter is intended to address several problems:
More and more people stop believing that they have actual impact on processes; therefore they make a conclusion that there is no real democracy.
To tackle this problem, Democracy Quarter is a space for experiencing democracy and training the necessary skills by participating in democratic processes, instead of just observing it.
The society is divided, and people – prejudiced.
In contrast – Democracy Quarter is a place where everybody can feel accepted as they are. Of course, it is not easy to reach that level of tolerance, because we need to learn to accept each other and explain ourselves. Besides we all are more prejudiced than we think we are.
The society is lacking solidarity – people don’t trust each other and are oriented towards individual goals rather than common good.
Democracy Quarter is a place where one can feel supported by others. It means both practical support, as well as creating an environment that encourages trust and mutual empowerment. The vision that The Quarter wants to achieve is that such relationship culture gradually spreads not only among the activists of the Quarter, but also among the visitors of the Quarter, and thus go beyond the borders of The Quarter.
The society is becoming more unequal, many people feel redundant, unappreciated.
In the Democracy Quarter all people are treated equally, everyone's efforts are appreciated.
Many people think that democracy is something quite boring.
For this reason, Democracy Quarter not only deals with such serious matters as enhancing civic competency, participation, promoting charity and voluntary work etc., but also makes the experience of democracy exciting.
Address: Mucenieku iela 9, Kuldiga, Latvia, LV-3301
In order for the Democracy Quarter to develop in the place where it started, we are raising funds to purchase this property. It is a former industrial area of 2905 m2 with several buildings (both spacious rooms to be converted into function halls and rooms for offices, workshops, residences, etc.) as well as a large courtyard.