society and politics
Reality Check
A platform for mobilizing civil action
Reality Check
May 2016 – January 2018
Since 2013, civil society in Bulgaria has demonstrated its capacity to affect politics, but for several reasons its ability to do so is still quite limited. The advent of social media has brought about an explosion of self-expression and communication possibilities, but this has not always worked to strengthen civil society. Rather, it has often allowed disinformation to thrive and made it possible to discredit anyone, thus reducing the trust in civil society organizations and nurturing nationalism and populism. This problem is coupled with the reduced role of traditional media and the absence of both a common civil society strategy to affect politics and a positive vision for Bulgaria's development.

However, positive examples of success in business, science and civil society, can have an empowering effect on the individual and stimulate them to act. Through a series of live and online debates, workshops, lectures and informal meetings, the platform Reality Check will seek to put new ideas and practices in the spotlight, promote private initiative and innovation, counter disinformation by revealing the mechanisms of its production and promoting the culture of fact-checking, thus giving citizens the tools to impact political processes.

Photo credit: Paul Stein

The platform "Reality Check" will explore several themes:

• Positivism from below – presenting innovative business models and success stories, green economy innovations, important scientific research done by Bulgarian scientists;

• The future of education – discussing the qualities that Bulgarian educational institutions should have and how civil society can stimulate positive change;

• Living with diversity – discussing the progressive liberal position on migration and the current refugee crisis and the ways to counteract the xenophobia, populism and paranoia that thrive when people's fears are exploited;

• Highlighting good journalism – presenting examples of journalism based on facts that reveal the systematic deficiencies of Bulgarian institutions; giving citizens tools to counteract the system of lies produced by most media;

• The power and/in me – presenting ways to influence the political processes through new technologies and instruments to control/ monitor the government;

• Topics on the move – presenting public debates on controversial topics that will be decided on an ad-hoc basis according to the current discourse.

The themes "The future of education" and "The power and/in me" are presented in the framework of two newly created event series: the Citizen Bee Series and the Open University. You can read more about them below.
Financial support
America for Bulgaria Foundation
Citizen Bee Series
A platform for meetings and education of civil activists
Undercutting the catchphrase of former Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski "Let's break the citizen bee!", The Red House offers a series of citizen bees as a space for meetings, training and assistance for activists of formal and informal groups working to make society more democratic through civil action. The Citizen Bee Series will provide useful information in the form of lectures or presentations of successful practices where participants can share experiences and discuss their work through specific cases.

Open University
Public lectures on current topics
The Open University of The Red House is a series of open lectures for those who want to expand their knowledge of the modern world and think of knowledge sharing as an exciting and entertaining experience. The lectures began as part of the project Reality Check and contunue to this day. The Open University is a new civic community that offers quality knowledge to non-specialists on contemporary topics in an accessible and attractive way. The teachers are university lecturers, scientists and experts. The topic of the first summer semester of the university was New Cultures. It was organized in partnership with the Culture Studies Department of Sofia University. The lectures of the second, fall semester of the university, were under the titles "Education from ABC to 2.0" and "Contemporary Literature". The events on education were organized with experts from the Parents Association, Teach for Bulgaria, the Institute for Progressive Education and the Centre for Safe Internet Bulgaria ( The events on literature were organized with the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation. The University's fourth theme was "Designing the Future: the Question of Technoscience". The lectures were organized jointly with the experimental arts lab Symbiomatter. The fifth lecture series explores the relationship between art, science and technology and is co-organized with the Re: Foundation for Research in the Field of Science & Art and with Seminar "Interactive Cultures".
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