The Centre for Social Practices (CSP-Sofia) was born in 1993
as an informal agenda-setting circle for the strenghtening pf civil
society and NGOs in Bulgaria. It became formalised as a non-governmental
organisation in 1994, and registered under the Persons and Family
Act by a Court Registration N 19885, dated 25 March, 1996. In 2003
the CSP became Bulgaria's first NGO to register "in the public
good" under the new, EU-harmonised Act on non-profit bodies.
The CSP acquired the status of a department at the New Bulgarian
University by a decision of the Academic Council, dated 21 February,
Until 2002 the CSP ran a separate NGO, the Oblik Association, as
our publishing and research arm. We decided to re-incorporate these
activities into the "mother ship" and closed down the
Oblik in 2004.
Also in 2002 we devolved a then department of ours, called the Political
Academy, which was designed to educate and train elected officials
since 1996. The Academy became a legally separate body over 2002-2003.
From the beginning we worked on the theory - since then proven
itself to be correct - that countries such as Bulgaria can become
modern, open and democratic only if carefully structured from the
bottom-up: from the communities (municipalities) to national legislation.
More than nine-tenths of our work takes place outside the capital
Sofia, which means we are constantly on the road; and for this we
are occasionally referred to as the "travelling show".
Our first major projecs were to do with the resolution and prevention
of conflicts between citizens and government, and between local
communities and the central authorities. We then moved to encouraging
dialogue and cooperation between citizens and government. This required,
increasingly, research, training of people on the ground and establishing
institutions of citizen participation in decision-making. Since
the late 1990s we have been increasingly drawn into working for
citizen participation in policy at the local (municipal, regional)
Issues or representation and participation of vulnerable groups
(ethnic minorities, but not only) take up increasing proportions
of our time and efforts. We are also gradually drawn into participating
in writing legislation on subjects we have a recognised capacity
in, which are mostly to do with open and accountable government.
At the New Bulgarian University we teach courses which are based
on our civic society-building experiences on the ground.
In a personal capacity, the CSP founder and Chairman, Dr Evgenii
Dainov, was Chair of the Board of Open Society Foundation-Sofia
We have helped set up and train civic groups and NGOs in Macedonia,
Serbia and Slovakia.
Depending on available funding we try to end every project in the
field with a book collection (sometimes we even raise money for
an English-language version) setting our results, models and recommendations.
On the strength of such analyses since 2003 we find ourselves increasingly
being part of international, EU- and OSCE-organised research efforts
into the subject areas we have a track record in.