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Let's meet. Everything starts from conversation | Civic Europe
Community development, Human rights

Let's meet. Everything starts from conversation

Dialogue as a way to transform conflicts.


Who is behind this?

Maja Zabokrzycka

Fundacja Dom Pokoju



Idea pitch

Tha aim of the project is to facilitate dialogue between various polarised groups about important social issues in city of Zgorzelec. We will begun with open dialogues to diagnose the ignitable subjects in the local community. Further we will continue the dialogue process with fixed group of participants representing sides who are in conflict (e.g. conservative patriots, ethnical minorities, LGBT community). Dialogue will be completed by educational workshops and building dialogue thinktank.

Where will your project idea take place?

Zgorzelec, north-west Poland

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

The project deals with problem of deepening polarization and lack of ability and will to build common understanding between people with radically different views. This problem is deepened by the political situation in Poland - e.g. strikes of women about restriction on abortion laws, reactions toward pride marches of LGBT minority. Zgorzelec and the region is the place of such tensions as stated above. As Foundaction we cooperate with Interclub Femina, which tries to build cooperation with feminist organiaztion from Görlitz. Such divisions also cause escalation of violence - such tendencies are especially visible within so-called rust belts away from big urbanized areas, where the ethical structure is homogenic.

Who are you doing it for?

Representatives of different groups:
- conservative groups, often focused on patriotic activities - their followers are the counterprotesters during pride marchest, we are able to reach the groups thanks to contacts shared with us by organization connected with Wroclaw’s archdiocese called Obserwatorium Społeczne, radicalization of the conservative side is accompanied by mass recruitment of young people, based on their exclusion (coming from poorer social classes) and the need to belong.
- left wing activists - representing such organizations as dealing with supporting refugees, or fighting for human rights (e.g. LGBT, women rights), common attitude “no platform”
- moderate views - in order not to invite only extremity poles, but built multi-partial space for dialogue.

How do you plan to get there?

1. Promotion and recruitment - contacting specific groups - crucial to fully diagnose and reach out to all kinds of fractions.
2. Two public dialogues to diagnose what exact subjects are causing strong divisions in Zgorzelec and the region.
3. Process of dialogues - held with the same group (15-20 people), ready to face deeply polarizing subjects (4 dialogues). In between the dialogues we will meet with people individually to prepare them to talk about such difficult issuess (individual mediation sessions between people, in case of escalated conflicts. In case of violence appearing we will deal with it using methods of restorative justice).
4. Trainings for dialogue participants: What is dialogue?, Mechanisms of stereotyping, Effective communication
5. Recording debate as a podcast as a sum up of the dialogue process - to show broadly that the conversation with respect above deep differences is possible. Speakers will represent the sides present during the dialogues.
6. Final event organised by participants of the dialogues created by participants of dialogues to invite a bigger group of inhabitants and show that understanding and common peaceful coexistence is possible. (e.g. a guided walk, picnic, painting a mural).
7. Training for the local governments to show the mechanisms of restorative justice but also present how to use public dialogues in local contex

What are the expected results?

- increasing the level of cooperation in environments representing different perspectives and worldviews,
- reducing the level of mutual stereotyping,
- increasing the sense of security in mutual relations of groups who treat each other as a threat,
- de-escalation of tensions and violence,
- reducing amount of hate-speech in public space and towards minorities,
- increasing competences in the field of dialogue,
- disseminating tools and methods of restorative justice among local government officials and social activists,
- selecting local leaders / groups of social dialogue,
- creating a real platform for dialogue beyond demonstrations,
- introducing a language sensitive to social diversity into the media,
- counteracting the escalation of tensions through media coverage

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

The project outreaches groups which usually are off the public discourse - both minority groups, but also radical right wing - who are not invited because of the “no platform” concept. The aim is to build much deeper understanding and safe space for debate. People participating in the process will gain not only experience, but also knowledge how to build dialogue on their own in their community. Using methods created in restorative justice, we will promote inclusive methods of solving serious social issues and also reacting to violence. Involving in the process representatives of local authorities, will guarantee a new platform of cooperation and will show them long term solutions. Thanks to the process we will show why and how dialogue should be implemented in a local context.

Why is this idea important to you?

Maja Zabokrzycka- project coordinator (trained in PM Fundamentals), coordinating Foundations project “Lower Silesia Dialogue Network” - a group of facilitators in the voivodeship. Trained facilitator of dialogue by Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue.
Joanna Wajda - Lawyer, mediator, trainer in projects related to educational innovations and legal actions, including restorative justice. She cooperated with many governmental institutions (e.g. Ministry of Social Policy, Commissioner for Human Rights).
Dorota Whitten - trainer, mediator, coordinator of the Conflict Management Department. Sociologist - empiricist, head of all research at the Foundation. From 2016. co-coordinates the commune Program for Romanian Roma, residents of Wrocław, belongs to the Wrocław council for equality.

€ 37000,-

Total budget

€ 35000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Personnel costs, including team and guest salaries 18000 EUR
Office expenses - 2000 EUR
Debate moderation and podcast production - 500 EUR
Public relations and graphic design - 3000 EUR
Travel and accommodation costs - 1500 EUR
Catering / translation for Polish Sign Language - 2000 EUR
Accountant - 3000 EUR
Final event organization - 3000 EUR
Publication showing model of building dialogue and restorative justice - 2000 EUR

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would like to know if there is a similar initiative like ours in your city/region. We would welcome criticism from those who had worked on similar initiatives - what would be the main challenges and risks we should pay attention to? Let us know what are your thoughts or doubts about it.



Idea created on April 26, 2021

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