Democracy and participation, Community development

Community invigorated by selforganizing horse club

Unlocking the full social impact of a vibrant community of volunteers by boosting its internal organization and communication capabilities

Creators

Who is behind this?

Anna Zieleśkiewicz

Horse Riding Association 'Szarża'

http://www.szarza.pl

Poland

Who is joining forces?

Sociocracy For All (SoFA)

http://www.sociocracyforall.org

Poland


A certified trainer of SoFa is also a member of Szarża. She piloted self-organization with a small team of our members. We are interested in the full scale implementation.

Idea

Idea pitch

Our horse club is a unique place where members of the local community can discover volunteering and public benefit actions are not only noble but also fun. As we are growing, we need to improve our internal capacity. Strengthening the Core Team of 20 most active volunteers by improving their communication and organization skills would increase our social impact and allow us to take our initiatives to the next level. This effect could be achieved by a program of trainings and coaching sessions.

Where will your project idea take place?

Main base: Popówek, Masovian Voivodeship. Summer base: Łyna, Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship

What is the local challenge?

Popówek: a bedroom neighborhood 1-hour drive from the capital, the region offers little opportunities to engage in community life. Adults spend much time commuting to distant workplaces. Youngsters have little entertainment outside schools and once they grow up, they leave the area for the big city. People live in relative social isolation. The NGOs in the area are small in size and find it difficult to engage people into something more than happening-type actions such as summer festivals. Łyna: located in one of the less developed regions of Poland, with a high unemployment rate, this rural area offers beautiful landscapes to the tourists, but little or no opportunities to its inhabitants to develop social skills and initiatives.

How does your idea strengthen democracy and active citizenship at a local and community level?

The association is a unique place, where members of the local community can discover volunteering and public benefit actions are not only noble but also fun. Horses become a pretext for building relationships with people of diverse backgrounds, learning how to collaborate. Everyone is invited to express their opinion as a part of Think Tank and to lead new initiatives. This creates a polygon for the future social activists. Decisions are taken democratically by the assembly or elected representatives. With its 100 active volunteers, the association is a source of social change: people radiate the acquired values and skills in other areas of their lives and serve the wider community. Investing in the trainings of the Core Team would create a snowball effect and increase this social impact.

Who are you doing it for?

Our association is egalitarian and inclusive. Over our 35-year old history we had thousands of members, who passed our 'school' of deep democracy and social activism: students, families, children, seniors, people of all social statuses, and occupations. Our volunteers serve 20 patients with disabilities as well as 15 proteges of social care center. Our patients and their families, often living in isolation due to their special needs, can integrate with each other and with the wider local community, which raises awareness about their point of view. We keep our relations with 20 inhabitants of rural Łyna, many of whom live in exclusion and poverty. A stronger Core Team of 20 most committed volunteers could animate these actions more effectively and a on bigger scale.

How do you plan to get there?

1. Establishing a project coordination office:
contracting trainers
scheduling meetings
tools set up
materials development
internal & external communication
2. Confirmation of the Core Team constitution:
c.a. 20 people
3. Self-organization trainings:
a series of 2h trainings
intensive learning of theoretical and practical base
for the Core Team
4. Self-organization coaching:
ongoing assistance of a trainer in operational meetings
Core Team and other members - natural immersion
5. Communication trainings:
a series of 2h trainings
Core Team and other members
6. Communication coaching:
regular sessions supported by a trainer
empathy and conflict resolution
small teams based on current needs
7. Celebrating events:
2 per year
whole community

What are the expected results?

We aim at strengthening self-organizing character of the club. By upgrading the skills of the Core Team they can become the fuel for increased engagement of all community. They will transfer the know-how so that every member may be a co-creator.

We want to create a supportive and safe space for everyone by improving our internal communication. We want to overcome deep differences, which can sometimes be observed in a group as varied as ours by introducing the non-violent-communication.

Our dream is to become a model organization and inspiration for others. We see Szarża not only using self-organization methods and non-violent communication internally, but also being an educational ground for those who then carry over the know-how into their own private and professional contexts.

How does your initiative contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe?

Many of our members are in touch with the wider European community. We host foreign volunteers as a part of WorkCamps program and invite foreigners living in Poland into our community. Szarża is the source of the active citizens with high awareness and compassion, cultivating values such as respect for others and their different point of view. It is a place where people can build the competencies necessary to be a good citizen: the ability to collaborate with others, the attitude of acting instead of complaining, self-discipline. Szarża is also a place where everyone can express their opinions, learn to give and accept constructive feedback and learn how to prepare and coordinate projects. What people learn in Szarża, they execute in other areas of their life and spread it among others.

What is your story?

We feel we have managed to create an important source of positive social change. We have numerous ideas for activator initiatives in our broad neighborhood and we are excited to see what kind of beautiful things we can do together. However, we are not able to easily overcome our limitations if we continue working in the same, ad-hoc, intuitive manner. Our efficiency is too low. The management team is overwhelmed with the workload - it must be distributed in a structured way and currently we lack the skills to do so. To be able to sustain our drive and take it to the next level, we need to strengthen the engine of the organization. Without the intensive training and Civic Europe support, our momentum would be lost and many opportunities gone.

€ 50000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

€ 52000,-

Total budget

Major expenses

Self-organization training & coaching 27 400
NVC training & coaching 9 400
Coordination & tools / materials 13 200
Sharing / celebration events 2 000

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We welcome any feedback, always!
We would be interested to get to know other communities of similar character in order to exchange ideas and get mutual support.

Team

SJ Szarza

szymarosia

Idea created on May 26, 2020
Last edit on May 27, 2020

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