And now all we have to do is… deliver the projects as agreed

While the groups completed their work plans and prepared to go their separate ways to now realise their projects back in Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia (and no doubt to catch up on some sleep) our trainers had a chance to reflect a little on the process of the Borderland school. Here’s a few observations from Willemijn Lamp.

http://vimeo.com/94950909

The projects will be posting material to this blog as they go along – with the work being delivered between now and the autumn.

Late into the night… again

Weronika and Agnieszka continued to work with the groups to finalise technical details of contracts, partnership agreements, budgets, not to mention evaluation.

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Natalia: While the backbone of the project is in our minds, we really had to work to review all the technical issues – some were changes on the facade but necessary.

Meanwhile, here are some thoughts on the experience of the Borderland school from one of our participants from Lviv.

http://vimeo.com/95961197

 

3 pm – 8 pm sessions

While many of the sessions involved detailed technical work on the project plans, this session was dedicated to looking ahead.

Chris and Willemijn noted that most of these projects involved building a community. They asked these questions: how can you continue working with these communities after October? How do you imagine that will keep working with these people that you will meet now? What kind of support will be able if you want to continue? How can Borderland help look for new funds?

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The group were asked to imagine one person that they are going to meet in the next few months. “Imagine how you would like to continue with that person after October? It could be one of the children you work on a photography project in Tbilisi, or one of the people who attend one of the lectures at Chernivtsi. These may become part of the new community you will be building.”

Chris gave an example of a local person in North Amsterdam, Andrea, who they met for the first time some years ago, when they invited volunteers to participate in reclaiming a local park. This was in the early days of establishing his arts centre, Tolhuistuin. He shared the story of her situation and how by participating in the project it helped  build her self-confidence and her increased role in the community today. “At the very beginning, you can never predict how it goes, but some of the people you meet in the first part of your process will become friends and allies.”

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He shared some images from the opening of the new arts centre last Monday, which was Liberation Day in Holland, a national holiday. They organised a dinner for 1000 Amsterdammers. “You cooked a dish at home and this was your entrance fee.” This was another way of engaging with people, to build a community.

Willemijn spoke of building an international community of like minded people. She shared a story of how she met and collaborated with Asmaa Azaizeh, a poet, journalist and news anchor in Haifa, who had made a poetry festival and created a performance space. She described how Asmaa had became a key person to organising the Read My World festival in Amsterdam festival, and how they planned to collaborate in future, with a possible edition of Read My World organised in Haifa.

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Bearing in mind these examples of individuals you could meet during a project, they then asked the group to “imagine just one person you will meet – imagine how you will do work with them in the future and how this relationship might develop.” Using this as a starting point, they shared this back with the group and in the process also gave background to their project.

http://vimeo.com/94956727

Following this there was a final summation with Krzysztof Czyżewski – looking at the concrete proposals that have been developed with the funds and the knowledge they have gained from the workshops.

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For example, Natalia Yeryomenko and Zhan Pobe outlined their project ‘Dzestra Talks’. This will consist of a series of lectures, conducted in the parks and city squares of Chernivtsi. Their initial concept was of making a ‘street university’. The lectures are to be held mostly in different public spaces, which they feel are disregarded, ignored by the citizens, fallen into disuse. These places are inert and dormant, which they wish to transform into spaces with the potential for leisure or crossroads for public interaction and dialogue.

They explained how they want the presenters of the lectures to be innovators, role models who have a certain cultural expertise or positive reputation (ie: a well known film-maker), who have contributed to Ukrainian culture (in a broad sense of the word) without any support from state institutions. They are the example of how culture can be sustained and created by active individuals.

These street lectures are aimed at both young people who may be looking for interesting and intellectual leisure, as well as active youth who want to share ideas and develop them. “The project is all about showing people how to see possibilities and explore them, instead of simply focusing on problems.”

Sunday sessions

It’s been raining and it’s a bit cold first thing, so the heating has been turned back on. Over breakfast there is some light discussion about Eurovision and the strange former links of that some countries retain (for example, Lithuania and Georgia). Then it’s down to business. Fairly serious business.

budgets3The morning session is occupied by sharing of practical information required to make individual partnership agreements. Weronika and Agnieszka went through the necessary organisational issues with regard to contracts – whether signing with organisations or signing with individuals to deliver the project work. They explain how the project funds will be distributed, in two stages, and how payments will be released.

They emphasise the need to keep good financial records, making copies of all the receipts, needing to identify what the receipt is for, what budget category it is.

budgetsThere is some discussion of press and publicity, keeping the project co-ordinators informed. They explain how visits will be made to see the projects as they progress, or particular events, and especially for final documentation.

budgets2In relation to work which produces artworks, Borderland recommend using a Creative Commons licence with regard to this work being made. A Creative Commons licence is used when an author wants to give people the right to share, use and build upon a work that they have created.

‘CC provides an author flexibility (for example, they might choose to allow only non-commercial uses of their own work) and protects the people who use or redistribute an author’s work, so they don’t have to worry about copyright infringement, as long as they abide by the conditions that are specified in the license by which the author distributes the work.’

More info on that here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_Commons_license and here https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

The participants then had individual budget sessions for their projects to clarify questions, alongside dedicated one on one sessions with Chris and Willemijn (each getting 45 minute slots). Here’s a short sample from Olha and Valentyna’s discussion with Willemijn about their project, ‘Stories of the New Borderland’ which will collect oral histories and use digital media to create animated stories across the Ukraine-Polish border.

http://vimeo.com/94951422

Valentyna: I have crossed this border about 50 times, and it doesn’t take 20 minutes – it can take up to 6 hours, so I have spent a lot of time there on this borderland, so I have got to know the people there quite well. In the project we want to learn how to make the stories interesting, not just facts. So the stories are a source of inspiration.

Saturday sessions with the project teams

Introduction session IMG_5790Weronika and Agnieszka explained the structure of the overall project of the Borderland School in terms of the funding, and how they were working with the foundation. The sponsor of the overall summer school project is Solidarity Fund PL, a democracy support and development cooperation agency registered as a non-governmental organisation, that distributes funds to Polish NGO’s.

The  Support of Democracy Program is financed within the framework of the Polish development cooperation programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland since 2012. Support for Democracy encompasses projects of Polish non-governmental organisations which, in cooperation with local partners, start common initiatives aimed at supporting pro-democratic transformations mainly, but not exclusively in Eastern Partnership countries. Here is one to the general info about the fund http://solidarityfund.pl/en/fundacja1/o-fundacji and here about the Democracy Support Programme: http://solidarityfund.pl/en/wsparcie-demokracji

The Borderland Foundation realises the goal of supporting democracy by cooperating with local partners from Belarus, Ukraine and Georgia to develop local, grass-root initiatives that advocate social integration in a multicultural local community. The Borderland Foundation, its partners and associates taking part in the Borderland School Project share the belief that activities undertaken in the field of culture and for the benefit of independent culture are an important factor in the social transformation processes in these countries. All the activities to be undertaken with local partners within this year’s Borderland School broadly serve the purpose of building social dialogue and community on the local level through artistic, educational and integrative work.

Agnieszka and Weronika explained how the partnership with the selected projects would work – the way Borderland will be the main institution with responsibility to report to the sponsor –  presenting the projects to the funder to make an argument for how cultural work will contribute to the process of democratisation in these countries.

They then outlined the partnership agreement that would be written with each of the projects – the activity description and budgets already. Some of the workshop will use look at concrete examples from the project to be clear about how it will be done, when it will happen, who it will been done with.

They spoke about how we will we manage the funds, the reporting, the evaluation. They asked groups to think about the sustainability of their project. They shared examples of how to describe activities sourced from the plans submitted.

They stressed the need to report back on occasional activities during the project, how they could keep in touch with each other and keep them, as the co-ordinators, well informed. The documentation workshop later this evening will help look at this. It was also stressed that evaluation is important, and sessions were dedicated to help with this.

Following this, Chris and Willemijn explained how they have divided the sessions up to work with the groups on their individual projects with personal mentoring.

Chris also spoke about one of the problems facing projects of this nature. While the core purpose of this time together is to spend time actually talking about the work, there is a problem in Europe about the all the money goes to the process, the form filling, and not the actual work. He felt that this is what is very dangerous about these systems, with more money being spent on time on terminology and bureaucracy rather than on the actual work.

Afternoon sessionsIMG_5813They then undertook individual sessions with the groups for the rest of the day. For example, Willemijn met with Data and Nino to talk about their project – Visual Storytelling: Tbilisi Migrant Stories, which will present selected migrants groups’ cultures in Tbilisi and engage local communities into educative intercultural dialogue, involving photography, cooking, presentations. They planned to work in a community where there are many different ethnic groups living together. During the project we work with people who moved to Tbilisi within past two decades to live there and implement public interventions with them. They discussed the methodology of how to reach out to a variety of groups and in particular they want to work with 12-16 year olds, and how to effectively engage with school teachers.

IMG_5836In the evening Brendan Jackson led a workshop to look at different types of documentation. he started by asking the group to consider the question “Why do documentation?” Suggestions included: To make an archive. For publicity purposes. For the funders. To remember. To analyse results and to improve. For a portfolio. To evidence your track record. He gave an example of a project he is currently working on in the UK, ‘Unseen Sandwell’, which is working with an achieve of photography from 1974-94. He explained the outcomes of the project and the types of documentation that would be undertaken.

As a practical exercise, he asked the group to work in pairs and create a portrait of each other, using a clear acetate sheet to draw an line image of each other, tissue paper and glue. While they worked on the portrait they then had a conversation about the types of documentation they would need to do their projects, and this was written down on the portrait. (This is a great activity which requires little resources and can be done with a five year old or an 85 year old and a good way to get people talking). After this they then spoke about how, during the realisation of their projects, the groups would be able to use the blog and the Facebook page to document their activity.

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workshop1  And here’s some examples.IMG_5882

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The groups then worked on their plans into the evening, despite the lure of Eurovision. It remained a quiet night.

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