EMPATHEAST is the annual international forum for empathy driven social change of Ideas Factory Association (Sofia, Bulgaria). Its 4th edition in 2019 (1-3 November) attracted the local community spirit for a mindful social change in the city of Plovdiv and mixed it with the wide perspectives of changemakers from around the world. The profoundly instigating topic of EMPATHEAST 2019 was “Radical imagination: emergency exits from a messed-up world”.
A rich lecture panel with speakers from Bulgaria, India, Italy, Hungary and UK filled the 1st day of the forum. They covered a wide spectrum of topics and choices that determine our daily lives both as creators and consumers – the potential of art as a radical community force, alternative lifestyle in Bulgarian villages, examples of solidarity models around the world, creative writing as an activist’ action, how to deal with the power relations in cultural work, and working solutions to energy poverty.

Among the lecturers were Istvan Sczakats (a director of AltArt Foundation and Fabrica de Pensule in Cluj (Romania), Jason Nardi, Italy, from the board of one the biggest networks for solidarity economy in the world – RIPESS, Will Buckingham and Hannah Stevens (Wind&Bones) – socially engaged writers from UK who travel the world and teach storytelling for social change and Vera Petkanchin – a social entrepreneur from Junior Achievement (Bulgaria).

Another highlight within the program was the half-day long world cafе discussion about the bright opportunities for the future of Bulgarian villages. Young local people, elderly from villages throughout Bulgaria and representatives of NGOs and institutions discussed together strategic and practical solutions to existing problems of the rural areas in Bulgaria. A rural think-tank has been started from the participants of the world cafe.
 The forum gathered around 300 people during the 3-days of its unfolding. It completely transformed 3 well-known public spaces in Plovdiv – the Central Post Office, the House of Science and Technics and the building of Total Sport & Squash in the building of a previous tobacco factory.

Article by the international forum for social change http://empatheast.org/.