Real-world interactions often force us to confront diversity and lead to reduce intergroup prejudices. Living in social bubbles, and avoid confrontation of values cause the collapse of the sense of community. We wish to meet small farmers from the rural communities od Jasło county and practitioners of permaculture, to teach each other and develop a common plan of political influence and cooperation through training, lectures, and common work. We'd like to invite adults, children, men, and women.
A rural communities of Jasło county, Podkarpackie province, Poland
In Poland, there is an abyss in the attitude towards democratic values between big cities and rural areas. Local farmers' community of Podkarpackie province is very conservative regarding both: production methods and social issues. The region is also characterized by high economic emigration and outflow of young people to larger cities. But Jasło county is one of the new Polish wine-producing regions, thus a potential change leader. On the other hand, there is a group of enthusiasts of urban gardening and permaculture, with a lack of farming experience. We think that mutual learning in this socio-perma-laboratory is possible. We plan a kind of social laboratory where we want to demonstrate, that the rapprochement of even very distant groups is possible, and shows how it can be done.
The two groups that project focuses on, differ in many more ways than just the attitude towards "the use of artificial fertilizers".They usually support different political parties, have different opinions on the critical social issues, and have no real opportunity to encounter each other. We'd like to make them meet, know each other, work together, and act in different roles (teachers, mentors, students, co-workers, members of problem-solving groups, etc.). We think that the reconstruction of the society should start by allowing members of different groups to realize, what they have in common and what basic values they share. We believe that this will let them see each other not as enemies but as valuable members of the same society. Mutual respect is the base of democracy on all levels.
The group of traditional small farm owners from Wróblowa and nearby communities of Jasło county and a group of people interested in permacultural agriculture (so, simplifying, not invasive towards the environment, focusing on fair use of natural resources),
The training and lectures may take place at the actual farms, local participants own, or in an agricultural FabLab, we are going to create. Fab Lab (Fabrication Lab) is a kind of small workshop equipped with necessary tools, that is open for the local community, giving its users the possibility of implementing their projects and ideas. We plan to launch a "village" Fab Lab (so - FarmLab). That would be a space where participants could work together on implementing projects and test different methods. In the Lab, there will be organized also problem-solving sessions where participants would try to come up with ideas for solving specific problems (for example, how to protect themselves from drought and shortage of water or how to increase the size of green areas in towns reasonably, etc.).
First of all, both groups will be able to enrich their knowledge about different agricultural methods and wiser use of limited environmental resources. More importantly, we expect that the gap between the two groups will be at least narrowed. We would like to demonstrate that our strategy of bringing together two extremely different groups and arranging a "teacher-student" or cooperation situation allows for leveling the inter-group differences and may be the start of re-constructing the society. We also think that it will increase their sense of agency as they will be able to observe how they can contribute and influence others. We hope it can, in a longer perspective, influence their presence in their communities' life and may increase their engagement in other initiatives as well.
The project is thought to be a kind of laboratory, both agricultural and social. We will experiment in both areas, but on the social level, we would like to create a sort of case study, a demonstration that, first of all, the communication and cooperation of two extremely different groups are possible at all, and that it can lead to a change in attitudes and the level of civic engagement as well. We hope that this project, especially if we are successful, may later serve as a benchmark for other organizations coping with similar problems in their communities, and they could learn from our experiences and, probably, from the errors we make.
The fragmentation of Polish society is enormous right now. Additionally, political polarization is extreme on the country level, and since it is beneficial for the main political forces, they try to strengthen the divisions further. Unfortunately, these divisions are transferred to lower levels of society as well. We think that the reconstruction of society is possible and could start from the bottom.
We also concern a lot about climate change and the necessity of working together to improve the quality of the earth, the environment, and the food we eat.
We hope to "infect" others with this way of thinking.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Project management and coordination: 10 000 EUR
Personnel and experts costs: 10 000 EUR
Travel and accommodation costs for non-local participants: 8 000 EUR
Equipment for the FarmLab: 6 000 EUR
Publications, publicity costs, public relations: 4000 EUR
Catering: 2 000 EUR
Remuneration for participants teaching: 10 000 EUR
We would be grateful for any comments and feedback on the proposal. We are also open for suggestions on how to better implement these ideas.