Democracy and participation, Community development

Establishing dialogue centre – Eastern Home

Abandoned school as place of practicing tolerance – cultural activisation of community and its social environment, disarming difficult historical memories locally and in the context of Eastern Europe

Creators

Who is behind this?

Michał Przewłocki

Fundacja Ośrodka KARTA (The KARTA Center Foundation)

http://www.karta.org.pl

Poland

Who is joining forces?

Fundacja Domu Wschodniego (Foundation for Eastern Home)

http://www.domwschodni.org

Poland


Centrum Archiwistyki Społecznej – Social Archives Center

http://archiwa.org

Poland


Ośrodek Studiów Wschodnich – Center for Eastern Studies

http://osw.waw.pl

Poland


Partners are representing various activity areas; history and local activism, international cooperation in Eastern Europe, dialogue of citizens across historical and contemporary divides

Idea

Idea pitch

In a sleepy town in the middle of bloodlands (by T Snyder), rejecting memories of past, rooted in nationalist ideology, proclaimed as LGBT free zone, we plan to run an outpost opening the community to realities of past and future, to strangers, to different people, to accept often unaccepted so far neighbours,. Former school building will become the regional creative centre – Eastern Humanistic library, Social Archives, the place for meetings, exhibitions, dialogue in east European languages

Where will your project idea take place?

Region bruised by conflicts of XXth c., community and city of Mordy, eastern Poland, near Belarus

What is the local challenge?

Until II WW mixed Jewish – Polish town in eastern borderlands of Poland, with Poles mostly leaning towards nationalist ideologies, backward and poor. In XXI century shifting away from democratic values, stagnating, without perspectives. Establishing cultural centre there, bringing guests (also foreign) will breathe fresh air into the community, will help it to dislodge perceived complexes. Joint work on common history will help to neutralize traumas in the same time strengthening local identity. Eastern Home is designed to become a place of dialogue for nations of Eastern Europe, former western parts of USSR – opening them up shall become the model for Poland and the whole region of how these conflicted communities can become friendly neighbours.

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

Rebuilding local identity and that of visitors confronting it, is to be enabled in Eastern Home by; 1/ presenting universal meaning of the region’s past, exposing examples of constructive social behaviour, 2/ juxtaposing different national or religious perspectives to help dislodge ideologized simplifications, 3/ spanning intergenerational divides, which shall help gaining independent identity by young people, freeing them from traumas carried by elders, 4/ strengthening local identity which shall help remove widespread sense of provincialism, 5/ establishing in Mordy of international centre helping to resolve social conflicts.

Who are you doing it for?

The Eastern Home shall serve to ease historical and contemporary tensions, presenting parallel and synonymous, yet separate spaces of experiences of locals and their neighbours. Social class dimension – relations between inhabitants of Mordy palace complex and other residents. National dimension – relations between Poles and others, chiefly Jews. Religious dimension – relations between Catholics and followers of other religions. Societal dimension – relations between those who are relatively well off and many unemployed. Generational dimension – relation between resigned older generations and younger generations pushing for better lives (too often not seeing perspectives locally)

How do you plan to get there?

In the Eastern Home there will be: 1. Library and Archive – there is no initiative like this in the region so the impact will be wide. 2. Dialogue Centre – meeting space and network of working contacts with institutions beyond Mordy shall create an opportunity to work through the social traumas in local aspect and in wider area 3. Educational base for librarians, social and democratic activists will energize existing organisations and the society in general. 4. Exhibitions space and educational activity (history and contemporary world) shall encourage intergenerational cooperation. 5. Research centre shall facilitate cooperation with historians, sociologists, social activists, both local and foreign.

What are the expected results?

If we manage to place the Eastern Home in 2020/2021 in the former school building and introduce planned programmes, within a year there should be: 1. Polish language Eastern Humanistic Library (ca 30 thousand volumes from main areas of liberal arts) 2. Ukrainian-Belarus- Russian language collections related mostly to legacy of those minorities in Poland (circa 10 thousand volumes). 3 . Mordy Social Archive; several thousand testimonies recordings and photographs collected. 4. Temporary exhibition showing life in Mordy palace complex (1912-44) 5. Meeting space for cyclical social dialogue gatherings addressing past, present and future of Eastern Europe.

How does your initiative contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe?

Being active in the East is fundamental for the future of Europe. If the western values are to be spread onto the “bloodlands” there has to be a dialogue between nations of these lands leading to an understanding of historical divides. Victims and atrocities of WWII divide these communities until present times, and this is often exploited by authoritarian governments to reinforce conflicts, define an “enemy” for political gain and ideologization of public space. Eastern Home will be the place to break an impasse in Polish-Ukrainian or Polish – Lithuanian relations. It might become a model how to overcome conflicts stemming from the bloody legacy and experiences of conflicts (WWII or other) in other border areas around Europe.

What is your story?

Eastern Home will concentrate many activities, which were dispersed so far. Apart from the main aim of activation of the local community, the fundamental task will be creation of place of remembrance for national minorities in Poland – never previously addressed - in their own languages: Ukrainian, Belorussian, Russian, Armenian, Georgian etc. This part of Eastern Home collection will be absolutely unique in Poland and simultaneously an example for the whole Eastern Europe how to nurture better coexistence and common memories. Eastern Home will be an “extraterritorial” place, where Ukrainians, Belorussians, Jews, Russians... will feel at home and will see the possibility of the Eastern Europe free of divisions and ideologisation.

€ 49400,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

€ 49400,-

Total budget

Major expenses

Personnel (local and allocated from KARTA) 19 170 EUR
Library and computer equipment, adaptation, 11 020 EUR
Rent, cleaning, maintenance, media bills, etc. (upkeep costs) 10 670 EUR
Communication, accounting, office costs, transport costs, travel costs, etc are adding up the rest

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

Eastern Home will need an intense international cooperation coming from the West. Such cooperation with Germany was essential in creation of a successful Polish-German dialogue centre in Krzyżowa in Lower Silesia and now we need the support for the opening towards the East.

Team

m.przewlocki@karta.org.pl

Alicja

Maka Cielecka

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

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