Activity 6 in Poland

Elblag 19.09-21.09.2023

Sixth project meeting in Poland

The aim of the event was to strengthen bilateral cooperation between consortium members represented by local authorities and local government administration and residents and members of organizations from 5 EU countries (Poland, Italy, Romania, Greece, and Spain) in the area of building social capital and civic participation in local communities. The event lasted three days during which over 230 participants representing various social and professional groups participated. The key element of the event was workshop and conference work dedicated to creating and developing the Strategy.

The activities were implemented in 3 full days (19.09-21.09.2023), with the following main components:

  • Workshops for consortia members and inspiration study visits
  • Debate on the content of strategy and its elements
  • Meeting with the citizens and civil society organizations
  • Tripartite meeting in the form of a round-table, with representatives of the municipalities
  • Drafting the Strategy

Each of the three days of the event began with workshop work based on the cooperation of consortium members, which was then consulted with representatives of the administration and the local community in Poland as an evaluation and review group for individual elements of the strategy outline.

First day of the event

One of the last meetings took place in Elbląg, where delegations from Spain, Romania, Italy and Greece were welcomed in Elbląg. The official part of the meeting took place in the Elbląg Townhouse. Guests had the opportunity to learn more about the history, the idea of international cooperation and future initiatives of Elbląg. Each partner took the floor and they were presenting the priorities of their own local policy.
The group went to the Elbląg Library to see the exhibition entitled Elkamera – Interactive Exhibition of Old Books and Newspapers. During a walk through the exhibition, located in the basement of the building, people could see the Gutenberg press up close, and learn about the origins and history of the development of printing and the creation of books. Guests listened to the history of the establishment of the grammar school in Elbląg and learned about the rich history of the hospital buildings and the history of the Elbląg Canal. Participants also had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the historic book collections.

After the visit to the library, group visited the Elbląg Technology Park, where a presentation was given on the activities of the Park, the role of the institution for local entrepreneurs, scientists and everyone from the wider business and science environment. The offer for entrepreneurs was presented. People were also able to find out how the Elbląg Technology Park supports startups and facilitates investors’ activities. After the theoretical part, group went to the ETP lab to learn about the details of the work.

Next point was the Grupa Wodna marina, where attractions awaited our guests in the form of a mini canoe trip and a tour of the Elbląg riverfront on the Pomeranka boat. People learned about the brief history of the Schihau factory, they saw the historic crane and admired the beauty of the surroundings from the position of the water. Participants also travelled along the waterway by motorboat towards the Vistula Lagoon, where our partners had the opportunity to see with their own eyes the beauty of the flora and fauna of Elbląg and the surrounding area.

Second day of the event

During second day representatives of local authorities and organisations from Romania, Italy, Greece and Spain had the opportunity to visit areas in Warmia and Mazury. The guests were first welcomed by the Municipality of Górowo Iławeckie, and the first place visited was the school complex, where we met among other things, children from the Ukrainian minority study. School representatives presented the school’s modernly equipped classrooms, talked about the innovative approach to learning used at the school and about the interest groups which are active within the school to intensify children’s integration. The teachers were also proud to mention that they obtained several EU grants for which they applied themselves. The culmination of the visit to the school was a performance by children from a song and dance ensemble, prepared especially for the occasion so that our guests could learn some of the Eastern cultures.

From the school, we went to the Provincial Rehabilitation Hospital in Górowo Iławeckie, where the director of the hospital talked about the mission and plans of the facility. We also learned about the plans for the development of the SPA complex in Górowo Iławeckie, which is an example of the dynamic development of spa infrastructure in the region.

The next place visited was the kindergarten in Bartąg, in the municipality of Stawiguda. The purpose of the visit was to present the facility as an excellent place for people-to-people cooperation in the municipality. Representatives of the kindergarten talked about their daily lives and initiatives. The kindergarten in Bartąg is an example of EU funds put to good use, with the commune providing the infrastructure, and the grounds developed and modernised with EU funds. The mayor of the Stawiguda commune emphasised that one should strive to create communities based on the European Union, where it is possible to exchange experiences and support each other by transferring good practices to their local communities. The presentation of the facility was honoured by a performance by kindergarten children. After the visit to the kindergarten, we went to the nearby Aromapark in Bartążek, also created with EU funds, where the success of the project can be attributed to the cooperation of the office with local residents. The park is planted with plants with unusual aromatic qualities and is situated in unusual natural surroundings. The initiators of the concept were students of the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, and the final choice, from several other design proposals, was made by the inhabitants of the village.

From the Stawiguda commune, we headed towards the Olsztynek commune, to the Folk Architecture Museum – Ethnographic Park in Olsztynek, often referred to simply as an open-air museum. The museum’s sizable grounds house 80 objects of large and small rural architecture from Warmia, Mazury, Powiśle and Mała Litwa. The interiors take visitors back in time, introducing them to the history, ancient culture and art of the region.

Third day of the event

 Last day participants had chance to visited two towns in the Pomorskie Voivodeship – Puck and Gdynia.

In the Kashubian town of Puck, participants went to the fishing harbour and marina of Puck, where boat rides on the ‘Ohar’ were scheduled, as well as a visit to a local craft beer maker from the ‘Puck Brewery’. After learning about the history and curiosities of the region and a cruise on the Bay of Puck, they moved on to the Town Hall building for a workshop where the TGAL project activities to date were summarized. A long-term strategy for civic engagement and participatory democracy was also presented – the Proposal for “Eco-Social Transformation – the change is yours!” The hosts from the municipality of Puck furthermore prepared an interesting and engaging mini-content for the participants related to the activities of the town and its surroundings.

Representatives visited the Museum of Puck land, whose origins date back to the 1970s, when the first exhibition related to Kashubian culture and folk art was opened. The museum headquarters building itself is the former “Hospital”. During the tour visitors had the opportunity to learn about Kashubian traditions and rituals, such as the art of Kashubian embroidery, admiring traditional costumes, or taking snuff, according to the instructions of an experienced snuff-maker.

The next point on the agenda was a visit to Gdynia. There, guests visited the Wymiennikownia – Youth Centre for Social Innovation and Design. There, People listened to a presentation about the initiatives and activities undertaken by the city and learned about the assets of Gdynia. The employees of the Exchanger also prepared a presentation about the idea and everyday life of this unique place, which supports grassroots youth initiatives and helps to realise interesting ideas. The Exchanger is responsible of young people, and further activities and other initiatives planned based on projects submitted by those interested. Representatives of the Ukrainian minority from the Spilo organization also made a presentation, outlining forms of support for Ukrainian youth. The last item on the agenda was a visit to the Neighbourhood House in Gdynia, a place for the development of interests and the realization of ideas of residents. There we learned more about this creative grassroots initiative, which is a good example of community participation in the local environment.