On August 28-31, more than a hundred community activists, citizen journalists, cultural activists and social organizers from 12 European countries gathered at Political Critique’s cultural center in Cieszyn.
We welcomed our friends from Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Croatia, Russia , Moldova, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Spain, Germany and Hungary.
During the four-day meeting we talked about the identity of Eastern Europe and the current situation in Ukraine. During a series of workshops we shared experiences of our everyday work, regarding culture, democracy, tolerance for minorities, right to the city, relationships with the state, strategies for social political and movements as well as gender studies.
Central Eastern Europe Meeting
After hundreds of hours of conversation, and hundreds of hours of joint actions, we in Krytyka Polityczna started noticing that we talk about some things with activists and organizations in Central Europe, and we talk about a different set of topics with friends in Italy or Spain. That we distribute focus differently, that we reach for different vocabularies – unfortunately, most of those are still in English. Our perspective is twenty-five years old – theirs is five. They laugh at Troika videos, and we sometimes don’t get the joke at all. A hypothesis appeared in our heads that Central and Eastern Europe has its own narrative, and we would really love to get to know it.
We were inspired by Agora 99, the 2012 and 2013 activists meetings in Madrid and Rome. We found out how important regular international meetings really are.
CEE Meeting – Krytyka Polityczna & friends was the first step of many in this process. It was a place to verify the hypothesis that Central and Eastern Europe exists as a region. To Cieszyn, we invited our comrades, friends, and the friends of our friends. We got to know each other better. We thought and talked together on how to change the world.
Krytyka Polityczna & friends
We started in Warsaw. We were a magazine called „Krytyka Polityczna”. Then we began travelling around Poland and engaging in the entire country, organizing a community of activists, who participate in social campaigns, who are citizen journalists, who run cultural centers (or Świetlice). We have learnt that from the perspective of a country’s capital city, very little is to be seen. The real Poland is often six hours of a train ride away from Warsaw. With time, we started acting in Ukraine. We completed two issues of the magazine with our friends from Russia, and one in Germany. Guests from other countries visited us regularly, and we started visiting them, too: for conferences, study visits, joint campaigns. From each visit, we bring back foreign sweets to give out to everyone who stayed, and with the sweets – dozens of new thoughts and observations. All meetings of Krytyka Polityczna and other activists or organizations are similar: we talk a lot, and we ask plenty of questions about your country, your environment, your region. We want to know what conflicts arise where you are, what you do, and – most importantly – how you do it. It makes us reconsider the answers to the same questions: how to change the reality around us.
The event took place thanks to the collaboration and generosity of our partners:
Photo by Michał Borucki. Selected by Agnieszka Muras and Michał Pytlik.