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Bialystok supports settlements. Locality and a return to tradition

01 of April '21

Well-designed neighborhoods are not just dead architecture, but living fabric. When access to urban entertainment remains limited by pandemic strictures, local micro-enterprises attract residents' attention. How to support settlement-building social activities?

development of settlements

Bialystok City Hall has supported an innovative project aimed precisely at developing settlements. This time the city is not focusing on greenery or new sculptures in the park, but on what is most important in creating a well-functioning settlement, namely people. The Magistrate of Bialystok has supported small housing estate projects, cultural activities of residents, undertakings aimed at integrating the community.

Sienkiewicza estate in Bialystok. fot.WikiCommons

what do residents want?

Among the events held so far, in the city's housing estates, open-air squares and community centers were dance evenings, the Starosielska May Day, or knitting workshops. How to get funding to organize neighborhood attractions? Urban activists could submit a project with an application for a grant. The Bialystok City Hall has just settled the competition. Low-budget housing estate projects are supposed to give new life to the city's socially unintegrated spaces.

What can be done for 10 thousand zlotys?

Over the next few months, 10 diverse cultural projects will be implemented in the city. The highest grant is only 10 thousand zlotys, and the effects of implementation in terms of city-formation can be much more tangible than not one new sculpture in a neighborhood park. Above all, the activists are motivated by the need for local integration of residents, the desire to provide entertainment and activate the elderly of various Bialystok neighborhoods.

Muslim Community Center, a landmark in Bialystok. photo.

Some organizers propose outdoor events such as concerts. Those more optimistic plan events indoors, including musical gatherings. A neighborhood theater will begin its activities, after receiving funding. On one of the estates, a knitting workshop is in operation, involving mainly senior women, but also a growing number of young people. A slowly disappearing Bialystok neighborhood, Skorupy, is organizing workshops and photo exhibitions of local architecture. They will encourage the search for Skorupy architectural details, often hitherto undiscovered historic houses.

Excerpt from a video about the disappearing Skorupy neighborhood in Bialystok. YouTube

next competition in april

The open competition for the realization of estate tasks in the field of culture, art, protection of cultural assets and national heritage received 17 offers. Ten grants were awarded for a total amount of PLN 83.5 thousand. The projects will be implemented from April 19 to the end of December 2021.

But supporting neighborhood life is not the end! The authorities of Bialystok announce that another open competition for tasks to be carried out in the second half of 2021 is planned forlater this year. It is to be announced in the second half of April.

Bialystok. Independence Day. Musicians and actors from the Batareja Band. Photo: Grzegorz Dąbrowski

settlements for the people

By supporting projects such as these, neighborhood life can take on entirely new colors. Micro-projects that integrate residents, matter on a city scale. The city is the people. The fact how much interest the competition for low-budget housing development projects met with, and how great the need for local activities and community ownership is among residents of housing estates, should probably give many housing developers pause for thought. Well-organized space and infrastructure are needed for joint activities, integration and local life of a housing estate. If only the countless fences and enclosures, private mini-lawns could be turned into communal plazas and parks.... And maybe even an amphitheater or community center?

Marta Kowalska

The vote has already been cast