Polish society is becoming more and more polarized. Social diversity is a fact, but walls of social divisions impede neighbourly co-existence in local communities, especially for persons from minorities and vulnerable groups. We will help local leaders from communities dealing with tensions related to social diversity acquire skills in facilitating dialogue and support them (with mini-grants and expert mentorship) in inviting local residents to meet each other in neighbourly dialogues.
4 communities in north-eastern and south-eastern part of Poland, including Olsztyn and Przemysl
The project addresses the issue of polarisation, deepening social divisions and growing hostility among different social groups in Poland in the face of current political and ideological conflicts, all the more visible at local level. The polarizing topics include i.a. rights of minorities and vulnerable groups, historical narratives, visions of what should be prioritized in community development. The concept of dialogue as a tool to look for communal solutions is either unknown or misconstrued, and while the need for it is increasingly recognized in Poland, there are not many known, tested examples which could serve as models to be used and promoted. Those who want to propose dialogue initiatives need both workable tools and practical support in testing and using them.
The key target group will be activists/leaders from local communities marked by conflicts and CSOs dealing with polarizing social issues, working on preventing social exclusion, promoting social diversity and protection of minority rights. They can be members/employees of CSOs, but also activists engaged in local informal groups working directly with people, from 4 selected communes in the north-eastern and south-eastern Poland (incl. Olsztyn and Przemyśl).
Other beneficiaries will be the 4 local communities where our key target group is active. The specific groups they work with, local authorities/administration facing conflicting social challenges and members of the general community will have the opportunity to take part in dialogue initiatives proposed by local leaders/activists.
The project will consist of an educational component and a call for small grants to propose and test new dialogue approaches.
First, via an open call we will select 16 local leaders from 4 communities (4 people from each community, incl. where partners are based). They will be invited for intensive dialogue facilitation training, led by trainers working with methods developed by the Nansen Centre for Peace and Dialogue.
The program will include: introduction to dialogue, key qualities of dialogue, skills of active listening, conflict analysis & mapping, identifying positions, interests and needs, skills of dialogue facilitation. All participants will have the opportunity to practise dialogue facilitation and receive feedback, working on different topics (incl. topics from their local communities and/or most sensitive issues in contemporary Poland). The training will also cover elements of planning a dialogical intervention and personal empowerment training for participants.
All participants will be invited to submit proposals for pilot dialogue initiatives in their communities. These interventions should engage groups of people representing polarized opinions on social diversity issues in local/regional context. 8 small grants (1,250 EUR each) will be awarded to implement those initiatives, with the support of project mentors. We expect the participants to work in teams.
The project will promote dialogue as a method to address various social issues, and a tool to foster cooperation between various social groups and members of the Polish society as such. It will support CSOs and informal groups by providing them with tools and power to transform conflicts in their communities and help them adopt a dialogical approach in their work. By encouraging them to recognize the importance of dialogue and include this approach in their activities, we hope to strengthen social capital in Poland and change the dynamics of discussion over polarizing societal issues in Poland (f.i. refugees/migrants, rights of LGBT+ persons). At a more tangible level - 16 local leaders will gain skills and knowledge allowing them to initiate dialogue processes in their communities.
The project will empower local leaders/activists to initiate dialogue processes over pressing/polarizing societal issues in their communities. These issues will be identified and chosen by the leaders/activists themselves, based on their knowledge of their community and differing voices within it. While we will provide them with methods and tools of dialogue facilitation and conflict transformation, it will be the leaders themselves who formulate, propose and carry out dialogical interventions in their communities. External support/mentoring will be available to these promoters of dialogue, but the main idea is for local leaders and members of the local community to actively seek solutions to genuine problems within these communities.
We are a group of people who believe that dialogue is a more adequate response to sensitive societal issues than polarizing/antagonizing debates. Part of our team is trained in dialogue facilitation and conflict transformation, and we have first experiences in using this approach in our work/activities, as dialogue facilitators, trainers and organizers. We see a huge need for adopting this approach more widely in Poland.
Since the lead organization is based in Warsaw, we decided to work together with two partners based in the regions, where they experience these challenges firsthand. Both partners have experience of implementing dialogue-oriented initiatives and they want to further strengthen/develop them, using the tools/methodology proposed within this project.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Personnel cost (coordinator) - 4 200 EUR
External trainers (4 x 2-day workshops or one 5-day workshop - trainers remuneration and travel costs) - 4 800 EUR
Travel and accommodation (participants) - 8 000 EUR
Catering and space rental (participants) 4 500 EUR
8 mini-grants 1250 EUR each - 10 000 EUR
Assistance for grantees (consultants, mentors) 3 200 EUR
Promotion 300 EUR
Evaluation 800 EUR
Office supplies 1 000 EUR
We want to hear about similar projects encouraging local communities to dialogue around sensitive/polarizing issues. We welcome advice on laying grounds for such initiatives related to social diversity in smaller, relatively homogenous communities, responding to preexisting fears and prejudices.