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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