Alba Iulia is a historic city in the heart of Transylvania, Romania. It is It is among the few county capitals in Romania with an increasing population (most other Romanian cities the number of inhabitants is decreasing) and has recently undergone significant urban development. Alba Iulia has a relatively low levels of international immigration however It has a significant growing ethnic minority group in terms of it’s Roma population and there is significant segregation between Roma and non-Roma populations One are in Alba Iulia named `Lumea Nouă` (The New World) is nearly exclusively Roma (95%).
Lumea Nouă neighbourhood - Photo by Intervin Project
“Rumourless Cities gave Alba Iulia the opportunity to develop a creative communication campaign which promotes and informs the Romanian community in Alba Iulia about the issues of the Roma local community. Through learning from the ‘Do Not Feed the Rumour’ campaign in Amadora, it enabled us to work with a local PR company to develop our own campaign for the first time in Alba Iulia.”
Alexandra Cirstoiu, Alba Iulia Municipality
Our starting point
Through an established collaboration between the municipality and the local university our social barometer study provides crucial data to identify the needs and opinion of inhabitants. Recent data showed that Roma experience high levels of disadvantage and discrimination experienced by Roma residents, with some areas of the city negative perceptions getting worse. Despite the implementation of a range of projects (social, cultural and infrastructural) by the municipality and multitude of European funds to support the Roma community results have been disappointing- unemployment levels remain high and discrimination persists. Anti-discrimination campaigning however, would be a totally new initiative for us, as would be building a network of local stakeholders to focus on inclusion and drive the project.
Our campaign ‘Om Cu Om’
Our initial idea was to develop a targeted campaign around segregation and discrimination in schools. We have had an ongoing issue of segregation in schools, with many non-Roma parents against their children learning with Roma children. This has led to stigmatisation of schools.
However, the arrival of Covid-19 made this completely unfeasible with schools closed for long periods of time. We instead collaborated with a local PR company to develop a campaign materials tackling the issue of discrimination more generally.
The concept which stood as the ground of this campaign was `kindness`, in Romanian meaning `omenie`, which comes from the word `om` (human). The main idea, we are all human and what defines us and makes us special is our response to the people we meet. The strategy of Alba Iulia’s campaign was to illustrate kindness as a definitory characteristic of the human beings, using stories about people’s kindness, videos that show the Roma people in a positive environment where they help people and black & white photos that show no colour, just people.
“URBACT helped Alba Iulia get inspired. We managed to discover the ground story for our campaign by getting in touch with communities that face the same issues as our city. We had support in identifying the main issue of our story and the correct point that can lead us to a successful project.”
We worked with a film company and local actors to create a campaign film to share and disseminate across social media.
We Have also been creating a set of short vox pops of different inhabitants of the city talking about the importance of kindness and understanding.
Alongside film, we have been creating an image bank with positive depictions of a more integrated society. The main theme of the campaign was that people are not born with the need to discriminate, they are taught by their families, their communities or even by their teachers. We decided to have a focus on children to show young people, less effected by the socialisation of discrimination, playing together, living together, learning together. We organised a photoshoot.
- The discrimination experienced by Roma people is structural and needs multidimensional approaches.
- Fear and mistrust strongly underpins Roma-non Roma relationships which requires long term process of reconciliation through grassroots integration.
- It is important for our municipality to lead the way in portraying a more integrated society and it is essential to pay attention to the imagery used.
- Partners in this project have shown the importance of creating shared cultural spaces where diverse communities can interact.
- OM cu OM campaign Instagram https://www.instagram.com/omcuom_campania/
- OM cu OM campaign Facebook https://www.facebook.com/OMcuOMcampania/