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Have a look at the map of people who are changing Slovakia for the better

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by Pavlína Hořejšová

Imagine Slovakia as a constellation of brave, curious and active people who are making it a better place.

Imagine people who bring life into a forgotten public space, employ homeless people and bring them back to a normal life, actively watch politicians’ mistakes and who educate children from marginalised groups so they can have a better future. Imagine a place where people are open to each other, help each other and share their ideas and solutions. Slovakia is full of these people.

We mapped almost thousand people

Together with the Ashoka organisation we mapped people who have been changing our country for the better. “Monitoring was carried out using the snowball method. We asked respondents whether they knew other interesting people who use unique approaches to solving social issues. We started by asking twenty people in selected areas and they recommended others to us whom they saw as social innovators, experts or supporters. This made the snowball grow,” said Monika Brošková from the Pontis Foundation. We focused particularly on three areas: education, social inclusion as well as active citizenship and the support of democracy and community development. “We conducted 240 interviews and gained 945 individual names. On average, one person recommended eight and a half others resulting in 1,700 names in total,” explained M. Brošková.

The map represents a varied mixture of people who have one thing in common, the fact that they are considered bearers of positive change. People from the civic sector, politicians, businessmen, doctors, teachers, journalists, priests, clerks as well as some mayors and President Andrej Kiska appear on the map. The map, however, does not measure the success or quality of the people and not everybody who has attempted to make positive change in Slovakia is included in it. In Slovakia, especially in regional areas, there are a lot more of these people.

We want to connect people

The more often a person was nominated, the bigger the size of their square on the map. The more central the position of the square, the more significant the inter-sectoral impact the person or the institution has. “The most noticeable people on the map were named most often and hence have a greater influence. Interestingly enough, innovations arise very often on the periphery. The map can serve as an impulse to inspiration and mutual linking,” stated M. Brošková.

After the Italian, the Austrian and the Czech map, Slovakia also has its own map of social innovators which we will present together with the Polish and Hungarian ones. Each of them is unique and represents a different type of relationship arrangement. “The Czech map is, for instance, the most numerous one and is interesting as it is densest in the capital city. On the other hand, the Polish map has more centres of influence,” described Oľga Shirobokova, regional coordinator from the Ashoka organisation. In the whole of Central and Eastern Europe around 5,800 people showed up as being change-makers for social issues.

Ashoka has been actively searching, linking and supporting people with innovative ideas and solutions worldwide for years. Those who appear to have the extraordinary potential to change the world systematically and in a new way are then admitted to the global net of Ashoka Fellows and receive various kinds of support to multiply their social impact.

More cooperation, greater impact

The map of social innovators depicts the current social innovation ecosystem. It illustrates our ability to cooperate and the hidden potential for a higher impact of our activities. “In Slovakia, we have many people and initiatives with a lot of unused energy. In order to make profound change, we need to give these people a larger space to establish themselves, to get to know each other and to cooperate. The map is the first step in our endeavour to support mutual linking. At the moment, we are preparing an online portal which will also include the profiles and stories of selected social innovators,” concluded M. Brošková.