More than 200 people – NGO representatives from all over Poland, social activists, and civic leaders participated in the Festival of Civic Activity held in the Kamienica Theater in Warsaw on October 28, 2015.
The event began with the film presenting the most significant achievements of the three initiatives – the pillars of the Festival of Civic Activity, that is “Act Locally” and “PAFF Local Partnerships” as well as the competition for the “Civic Leader of the Year 2015” title organized by Newsweek Polska weekly.
Ambassador Jerzy Koźmiński, the Polish-American Freedom Foundation’s President and the co-host of the meeting, emphasized in his welcome address that the “Act Locally” Program, whose 15th anniversary was celebrated during the Festival of Civic Activity, has been the first and the largest PAFF grant program. It stimulates local communities, making them focus on activities responding to the needs defined by them. President Koźmiński pointed to the important role played in the program by the network of 60 Act Locally Centers – the active organizations that carry out local grant competitions which allow to finance various civic initiatives at the area of their operation and thus contribute to social capital strengthening. “The program is unusual in its scale and impact. Over 15 years, more than 7,500 local projects have been implemented with more than 3 million residents participating and hundreds thousand volunteers involved,” the PAFF president said, indicating at the same time that the “Act Locally” experiences have been used in other Polish-American Freedom Foundation’s programs, such as “PAFF Local Partnerships”, which since 2009 have been initiating cooperation between participants of various Foundation programs in order to establish partnerships for implementation of projects that are important to local communities. Ambassador Koźmiński also thanked all organizations and partners involved in these initiatives, and he especially warmly thanked the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland which is the manager of both these programs and the strategic partner of the competition for the title of the “Civic Leader of the Year”.
President of the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland (ARFP) Paweł Łukasiak emphasized in his address the need to appreciate the changes that occured in Poland over the last 25 years. “One of the most important achievements of the Round Table debate was the Law on Associations Act of 1989. The liberty to act, which we regained in the beginning of the 1990s, means also a call to take responsibility by communities for solving their problems but at the same time, the liberty to establish cooperation, partnerships that will help to build common welfare, improve conditions of various groups and develop communities. We shall appreciate that right to act and use it for the benefit of local communities,” Paweł Łukasiak said. The ARFP President noted also that these are social activists and local leaders who inspire and mobilize the society to solve various problems, such as sudden disasters but also lack of community integration, low level of trust, social exclusion or no prospects of passion and hobbies development. Both “Act Locally” and “PAFF Local Partnerships” help to activate communities to act for the common good.
“I see myself as a person coming from the civic society. I am a civil servant but all the time I am attached to the civil society,” Dr. Adam Bodnar, Commissioner for Civic Rights and the special guest of the Festival of Civic Activity said. In his address, he spoke about significance of three newly adopted acts, which he described as “critical for development of a civic society”. These are the acts on associations, on public gatherings, and on petitions. Dr. Adam Bodnar pointed also to the important role played in the Polish society by non-governmental organizations and said that he sees a partner and an ally in them. “It is my great obligation to the civic society, the obligation which I have already started to fulfil, if the time allows me, by working in expert committees that exist in my Office, such as Social Board and others,” dr Bodnar said.
Your work has the deepest sense (…) None of you struggle for awards, statuettes, diplomas but you act from the heart, to better the piece of Poland around you,” said Tomasz Lis, Newsweek Polska weekly Editor-in-Chief while presenting with the awards to the winners of the “Civic Leader of the Year2015” competition.
Piotr Pawłowski, President of the Friends of Integration Association and the Integration Foundation won the award for his struggle to build the world without architectonic, digital and social barriers, which among other things would enable the disabled to vote in the general elections. The Competition Committee appreciated his many-year, effective promotional campaigns for making the Internet services available for the disabled according to the world standard, his campaigns to change legal provisions on the disabled in Poland, with the special emphasis on laws regulating employment and professional development.
The award was won ex-aequo by rev. Andrzej Augustyński, founder, the Management Board Chairman and CEO of the Siemacha Association and the Demos Foundation founder and President. His merits include creation of sustainable system of support to development of young people through establishment of a network of innovative institutions all over Poland and systemic work which covers bringing up, sports and therapy, ensure young people multidimensional development and increase their chances for full participation in social and economic life.
The winners of the “Civic Leader of the Year 2015” competitions are Martyna Kaczmarek, founder and President of the “Day for Life” Foundation; swordsman Jacek Gaworski, founder of the “Help Struggle for Life” Foundation supporting people suffering from multiple sclerosis and cancer diseases; and Władysław Ornowski, founder and President of “Pan Władek” Social Support for Children Foundation.
The competition for the “Civic Leader of the Year 2015” title organized by Newsweek Polska weekly, whose main partner is the Polish-American Freedom Foundation and the Strategic Partner is the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland, refers to Wisława Szymborska’s initiative of 1996, implemented by Jacek Kuroń and “Social Assistance SOS” Foundation. Its purpose is awarding local activity in Poland and promote activity of individuals who by acting in NGOs, informal groups or local governments, struggle to solve various social problems.
The ceremony also included presenting the awards to the most effective partnerships, granted in the 4th edition of the “PAFF Local Partnerships” Program. Representatives of two Initiative Groups, implementing projects in Dębica and Ełk, will go for a study visit to the United Kingdom. The first one was awarded for creating the common space for cooperation of organizations, local governments and companies by establishing commune Internet volunteering center under the “Dębica district painted with the Internet” project. The other Group was awarded for promoting the idea of tolerance and creating the space for local community stimulation and joint work for overcoming the divisions by creating the “cultural and social posts” in Ełk commune under the “Open to diversity” project.
The coalitions established in the two first editions of the “PAFF Local Partnerships” Program were awarded for continuation of their partnership projects. PLN 30,000 for the development of activities under the “Angry Young People” project was presented to the leader of the PAFF Local Partnership – SMK Local Fund Foundation from Sandomierz, while PLN 15,000 went to Żywiec Development Foundation for continuation of their work for clean air under the “Żywiec without stench from burning” project.
The Festival of Civic Activity was also an opportunity to award Act Locally Centers with certificates confirming that they meet the highest standards in implementation of the “Act Locally” Program. Awarding the certificate is a form of appreciation for special involvement and professionalism in carrying out activities for the development and stimulation of local communities, that can serve as a model for other organizations. For the first time the certificates were awarded to 12 organizations in 2014. During the Festival, other 9 Act Locally Centers joined that group.
- Fundacja Fundusz Lokalny Ziemi Biłgorajskiej [Biłgorajski Region Local Fund Foundation]
- Darłowskie Centrum Wolontariatu [Darłowskie Center of Volunteering]
- LGD Dolina Stobrawy [Stobrawa Valley LGD]
- Fundacja Pokolenia [Generations Foundation]
- Stowarzyszenie Wspierania Rozwoju Gospodarczego Ziemi Świeckiej „Inkubator Przedsiębiorczości” [“Incubator of Entrepreneurship” Association for the Support of Economic Development of Świecki Region]
- Stowarzyszenie Kaczawskie [Kaczawskie Association]
- Fundacja „Porozumienie Wzgórz Dalkowskich” [Dalkowskie Hills Agreement Foundation]
- Fundacja Bieszczadzka [Bieszczady Foundation]
- Stowarzyszenie Europa i My [Europe and We Association]
Also the winners of the “Tell me…” competition were awarded. The aim of that competition is to encourage the project participants to present in attractive ways their activities carried out under the “Act Locally” Program.
The prizes and diplomas were presented to:
In the “Man” category:
The main award went to Strefa Kultury Młodzieżowej [Youth Culture Zone] for the video “Historia podwórka”[the History of a backyard]:
In the “Place” category:
The main award went ex aequo to:
Stowarzyszenie “Razem dla Kotulina” [Together for Kotulin Association] for the “Because we want to play football” video
Grupa nieformalna “Młodzi dla Młodych” [“The Young for the Young” Informal Group] for the “We will fix it together” video:
In the “Motive” category:
A honorary mention went to “Fabryka Prądu” [“Electric current Factory”] for the “The Kitchen identity [seen from the backstage]” video:
In the “Film Product of the Project” category:
The main award went to Stowarzyszenie Działań Lokalnych Spichlerz [Granary Local Activities Association] for “Turmoil of 1914 war stigmatized people…” video:
The mistress of ceremony was Agnieszka Cegielska.