Big Histories Foundation
We believe that local history is the true cement holding communities together. We will cooperate with local activists in 20 districts of the Mazovian Voivodeship who will work with young people to help them discover places important for their community's memory. They will learn how to find the story behind them and take care of their heritage. We'll produce a mobile app which will enable people to map the places and share them with others - a tool to promote local heritage and civic engagement.
Ambassadors act in small towns/villages in different districts of the Mazovian Voivodeship, Poland
Public initiatives in Mazovian Voivodeship covers mainly the capital city, leaving the rest of the region neglected. Our project responds to the lack of protection of the monuments of historical significance in peripheral districts and more importantly the low quality of history&civic education,especially in rural areas.
Education focuses too much on theoretical knowledge and global history which is difficult to identify with. We strongly believe that it is time to change the methods from passive to active learning and focus more on processes, causes&effects of the historical events, rather than make students remember important dates. Presenting history as a collection of facts not interconnected in any way doesn't give young generation any sense of belonging crucial for civic engagement.
Local heritage and collective memory are a very important factor in shaping identity of societies. We'll reach activists from small districts and appoint them as ambassadors of our project. Thus, the action will be performed "from the inside" by people who know what is important for their community. Taking part in this initiative will contribute to raising awareness of the students about their heritage and restore the visibility of the sites.
Local history is easier to understand and identify with, it concerns places and persons who are close to us. Discovering local heritage and working to preserve and promote it is a great way to build identity of the "small homelands" and a powerful tool for civic education, teaching young generation to care for their surroundings and their community.
The global history as we learn it in schools is always told from the perspective of the ones in power. Our project will give voice to the people who want to present the story from the local perspective. This approach can provide a depth study in a way that would be impossible with a national topic, utilizing and developing pupils’ source skills and knowledge, as well as offering clear benefits in terms of nurturing empathy and identity.
Target group are inhabitants of all district of Mazovian Voivodeship (except 5 cities with district status). We'll reach:
- 100 cultural and educational institutions
- >20 local ambassadors all over the voivodeship
- at least 100 active students (age: 10-18)
- at least 120 local historical sites which will be "taken care of" and promoted nationwide.
We divide the project into 6 major activities:
1/ Establishing cooperation with the ambassadors (we are already in contact with more thant 20 people in different regions eager to take part in the project)
2/ Each ambassador gives 3 lessons on the subjects like: local heritage and its role in the shaping of the identity and unifying the community, important places of memory and ideas for their revitalization, importance of voluntary and community work, etc.
3/ Webinars – meeting with experts on local heritage & memory, storytelling, voluntary work and civic engagement
4/ “Adoption” of the places of remembrance chosen by students
5/ Use of application – mapping of the places, adding stories, promotion
6/ Conference on the subject of local heritage, voluntary work & civic engagement.
At least 120 places of memory will be described, mapped in the app and “taken care of” by young people. The stories behind the places will become known to the community–they'll be labelled, cleaned&put in order, each of them will have its “profile” in the application so their history will be easily accessible. We’d love to see new initiatives emerging around the places–festivals, ground games,etc. We believe in the creativity of the people who’ll be given tools to act. The voluntary work done by the youth for the benefit of their local heritage will reinforce their sense of belonging to the community and strengthen their will to engage in the civic actions. During the project, they'll learn to listen others and accept their worldviews and opinions and work together for the common purpose.
We believe in grassroots actions and their ability to change the way we think about the community and respectively about the nation. If we want to grow up a society who cares about their country and feel involved in the decision-making, we have to start with education. Studies show that especially in the post-communist countries low levels of civic engagement and social trust constitute an important limitation to social and political engagement. Our project meets the need to build a strong sense of belonging to the community and teaches that even small easily achievable actions can make a noticeable difference. Increased place attachment enhances civic engagement and social trust.What is important, this project is easily scalable and can be adopted in other regions and countries in Europe.
We believe in the power of stories. Through the experience of history, we show how to benefit from the richness of the past and rediscover the heritage. For us, each story is important and useful: it teaches us, helps us grow and provides tools essential in the present.
Modern societies are becoming more and more divided and intolerant towards different opinions. The idea that stands behind the project requires from the participants to be open for different views and listen to other perspectives – in the subjects connected with history it is very difficult and raises very emotional reactions. Especially in Poland the question of the historical policy is a very hot topic that involves both politicians and “ordinary” citizens.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Project management and coordination (12 months x 1500) - 18 000
Remuneration of Ambassadors (20 ppl x 250) - 5 000
Application - 15 000
Promotion - 3 000
Support for participants for renovation (120 places x 150) - 18 000
Webinars - 5 000
Conference - 12000
Graphic materials - 2 000
Office and other expenses - 2 000
The 30 000 of our contribution comes from the Nation Institute for Freedom who supports this initiative.
We would be curious if similar projects are happening in other countries (e.g."Adopt a monument" project in Finland) and if initiatives like this are needed in other communities. We would love to discuss the process of the project and its results. The support of the community would mean a lot to us!