Gülcan Nitsch

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2010
Yesil Cember


This profile was prepared when Gülcan Nitsch was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2010.
The New Idea
Using a highly personalized and high touch communications approach, Gülcan works directly with Turkish media and the Turkish community to mobilize Turks around environmental issues. From the preparation of information materials to the community empowerment strategies she adapts, Gülcan focuses on the day-to-day world and the everyday language of her target group. Tailoring the messages and strategies to her audience often means leaving behind complicated modern environmental protection mechanisms, and instead, focusing on basic concepts that appeal directly to the needs of her target group, i.e. being more economical with household resources and energy.

To roll out her ideas and programs, Gülcan founded Yesil Cember (Turkish for Green Circle) in 2006. While her first priority was to develop adequate Turkish information materials about simple and hands-on ways to protect the environment (i.e. the usage of energy saving light bulbs, recycling, and how to avoid toxic chemicals), the initiative has developed into a knowledge hub for effective approaches to raise awareness about environmental protection among migrant groups. Yesil Cember began with public relations (e.g. every year Gülcan organizes the national Turkish environmental day), and moved toward more hands-on projects, including training migrant women to become environmental consultants for their communities. After a 30-hour training they begin to consult friends and relatives, then, step by step, reach out to their community, gaining more self-confidence and feeling a strong sense of responsibility for their environment.

Ultimately, Gülcan approach to sensitizing the Turkish community to environmental causes could be spread not only to ever more immigrant communities but also to other public issues such as participation in democracy or violence prevention.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

More For You