The project Obywatel Soltdarność/ Citizen Solidarity in essence concerns civic journalism in Poland. Within a context in which modern history has been weaponized by politicians across the political specter, independent journalism is crucial. Unfortunately, established journalistic outlets have shown time and again to be susceptible to political pressures to take sides, to be critical to ‘them’ and lenient to ‘us’. Therefore, the project has chosen to be fully independent.
A major core activity within the project is conducting interviews with stakeholders in Polish modern history. Since the interviews are conducted by a non-Pole, who is perceived as politically neutral and less knowledgeable, the interviewees are more open than they would normally be. A second core activity of the project is registering events as being history in the making.
The project started in 2010 with a bang. Solidarity legend Aram Rybicki started the project together with the current civic journalists – Beata Hansen-Staszyńska and Onno Hansen-Staszyński. Aram safeguarded project funding in Parliament for what was to be one of the biggest independent Polish cultural heritage projects in Polish history. Tragically Aram did not live to see the project’s inception: he died in the Smoleńsk airplane crash in 2010.
After the termination of the 2010 high-end project the two remaining initiators continued the project on a more modest scale, without external funding.
Currently, the archive of the projects consists of:
- About 120 interviews/short conversations with Polish opposition figures and their Umfeld (especially the milieu of the movement “Młoda Polska” (Young Poland): including 3 larger interviews with Lech Wałęsa; interviews/short conversations with, among others, Adam Michnik, Wladyslaw Frasyniuk, Aleksander Hall, Zbigniew Janas, Jerzy Buzek, Jan Lityński etc. Interviews with contemplative journalists like Edwin Bendyk and Jacek Żakowski. The interviews are mainly from 2010 and 2019.
- Documentation of post-Smoleńsk events (including protests at the presidential palace in Warsaw, the funeral of Aram Rybicki, commemorations); of the opening of the Esplanade Solidarność 1980 in Brussels with interviews with Jerzy Buzek and Wim Kok; of the meeting between Wałęsa and Lula where we were allowed to ask the only questions; of Wajda and the filming of the film “Wałęsa” with interviews with Wajda and staff; of the meeting between Tunisian and Egyptian leaders of the Arab Spring with Lech Wałęsa where we were instrumental in handing over the flag of the Tahir Square to Lech Wałęsa; of contemporary oppositional demonstrations (KOD); of reflective Young Poland salons; of a symbol of the current trade union Solidarność Aleksandra Olszewska; of important events at the Gdańsk shipyard.
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