DOTS Foundation for an Open Society unites people devoted to strengthening the quality and culture of democracy in Latvia. Their work is worth highlighting because of their annual open-air LAMPA Conversation Festival. Over the years it has become a key driver of conversation among people, this year (2023) gathering record high number of over 20 000 visitors listening in 323 discussions, and 1082 speakers on 55 stages. For the scale of Latvia this is a remarkable amount, and it keeps growing every year. But what’s even more important is their role in providing stage for topics that are rarely discussed publicly, and thus driving social consciousness and inclusion in Latvia. \

The biggest discussion event in Latvia, LAMPA creates a motivating atmosphere for constant self-improvement in an ever-changing world. Since its creation in 2015, each summer LAMPA has brought together hundreds of thousands of participants who spend two joyful days sharpening their minds, expanding their horizons and challenging their views. LAMPA is an inspiring and exciting platform for anyone who has something to say — for all those who want to learn about and discuss the central issues for Latvia, Europe and the world. 

The main things we can learn from their initiative in this festival are connected to the way they have ensured their longevity and success over the years through following actions. 

  1. Their main success is the meaningful partnerships they have formed over the years, joining forces with the biggest companies, NGOs and government institutions in bringing this to life. Even though DOTS are the authors of idea, the festival would not achieve the same reach and magnitude without financial, informational and in-kind collaborations. Partnering up they also contribute to strengthening their message about democracy over the most diverse audiences (also the unsuspected ones and the ones usually less interested in socially meaningful concepts). 
  1. They are a true platform – the conversations and topics are submitted and facilitated by the most diverse representatives of communities, media, businesses, public sector. Meaning, the power of festival LAMPA lies in the power of giving freedom of Latvian people to talk about things that matter to them. Ensuring a genuinely eye-opening impression about the current challenges it becomes an opportunity for learning – not only to the participants, but also other social economy stakeholders. 
  1. The festival is a real-life example of plurality and peaceful co-existence of multiple realities and opinions. Reflecting an open-minded and intelligent society, this space helps to find common grounds and break barriers also among different usually rather rigid stakeholders (e.g. having several competing major banks with their conversation stages in the festival was a major achievement a few years ago, but now has become a great example how to become more open also in the business environment). 

Read more about festival LAMPA and have a look at some of their archived recordings HERE

A little more ABOUT DOTS foundation 

They believe: 

  • that diversity and a plurality of opinions make Latvia a better place. 
  • in an open and inclusive public sphere as the cornerstone for a resilient society able to stand up to the challenges of tomorrow. 
  • in trust, dignity, integrity and sustainability, and we work with passion and joy to bring these values to life. 
  • in deliberation as the best tool for fair decision-making, and we pursue cooperation and co-creation among our team and with our partners. 

They engage in the promotion of participatory democracy by: 

  • inspiring a democratic conversation and advancing the culture of discussion, 
  • inciting people’s interest in societal and political processes, 
  • fostering people’s active participation in public life. 

In context of social economy their vision about open society is extremely relevant and meaningful: 

The concept of open society is based on the recognition that individual actions stem from incomplete knowledge, and no one has a monopoly on truth. If a closed society can be considered a bastion of a single truth, then open society is based on the rule of law, democratically elected governing bodies, and active and diverse civil society, respect for minorities and vulnerable groups and their opinions, as well as a market economy driven by innovation. A free exchange of ideas and competition among those ideas is the best road to an open society. 

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Photo by: LETA / Paula Čurkste