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Face of ECON - Dagmara Kubik

Posted by (econ) on 01.09.2014
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Dagmara Kubik

Name and surname:

Dagmara Kubik

What do you do? (position)

I am a Community Organizing (CO) Programme Coordinator and Vice-President of Bona Fides Association from Katowice, Poland. I'm a trainer and CO consultant.

What is your connection to ECON?

Bona Fides Association started cooperation with ECON leaders in Paris in 2007 when Paul Cromwell conducted a training on community organizing method. Since then we have been in regular contact and met on several occasions. In 2008 our association in cooperation with prominent social activists set up European Community Organizing Network. I am National Coordinator from Poland and since 2012 member of ECON Coordinating Team.

Dagmara Kubik

Why did you choose community organizing (CO)?

Bona Fides is a watchdog organization. For the first years of our work we were fighting with lack of transparency of city halls, lack of consultancy process and cooperation between local authorities and citizens. As an organization, through using watchdog tools we were able to build respect of local government. Government started to request our opinion and give us every information we wanted. At some point we realized that we were able to bring change but this change concerned mainly our association and active citizens. Ordinary citizens were still not informed, listened and respected. We started to search for new tools to involve citizens in bringing changes and to give them power to decide about their city. This is from the perspective of the organization. From my personal angle when Grzegorz Wójkowski, the president of Bona Fides, introduced me the idea of CO I felt like this is my way I want to follow. This is the most effective tool to build direct democracy I know and it is very needed in Poland.

How would you explain what is CO to a child?

Imagine an apple. When you are hungry you can eat one apple and it can be tasty but after 20 minutes you will be hungry again. If you have 1000 apples you can make 100 cakes and will not feel hunger for a month. To make a cake you need a recipe and some ingredients beside apples like butter, flour, species. Mechanism of community organizing is very similar. One person is not able to make a significant change and to fill in "stomach of democracy". When you have 1000 people you are closer to do it but this is still not enough. What is needed is to organize these people, to build their leadership skills, democratic rules for cooperation between them and values of social justice and tolerance of diversity, to operate with money, to build a structure of the group to be more effective and sustainable. You need all of these in order to bring long term change and make democracy work.

Dagmara Kubik

How did you start organizing?

At some point in my life I had to make a decision what path to follow and what I want to do. Most of my friends left Poland to find a better life in the Western countries like Germany, Great Britain, Holland. I decided to stay and bring change in my country and try to make it better place to be. Community organizing can help in bringing this. I have strong needs of being part of the community, being respected and having an influence to what is going on around. I can find all of those things in CO. There is a gap to be bridged between the people and governments in Poland and other countries as well. We feel like every decision is made without them and what they can do is only to complain and focus on their personal lives. CO shows that people can change democracy from voting once in 4 years to have real influence all the time. I started neighbourhood organizing in 2011 in Ścigaly Estate, one of the districts in Katowice, and after a couple of months of work I experienced a real power of people and decided to develop the method and make it as a programme of the association not only a project. Great influence on my work had people in ECON and the opportunity of sharing experiences and building network of support was crucial for my work. At the beginning, in 2011 I was working alone and it was challenging. Right now we are group of 4 organizers (in Katowice and Bielsko-Biała) working in 5 places.

What motivates you?

Being part of the group and feeling the community spirit. To have opportunity to develop myself and to see leaders and co-workers growing. To feel that fight can be respected is successful. To feel energy during actions. To reach deeper level of understanding mechanisms of building power and group dynamics. And to share experiences and learn in the team. I could add some more. There are number of things, which motivate me :)

What is the victory you are proud of the most?

I am proud of my work in general and I feel that this is a victory itself. I am proud to work with wonderful leaders and to see how they are growing and building their groups and effective campaigns: Inicjatywa Mieszkańców Osiedla Paderewskiego (Paderewski Housing Estate Initiative of Inhabitants) and Inicjatywa - Osiedle Kukuczki (Kukuczki Housing estate Initiative). I am proud to see that first group I started to work with - Inicjatywa Sąsiedzka Nasze Osiedle Ścigały (Our Ścigały Housing Estate Initiative of Inhabitants) is working effectively. I am proud to see that government starts to treat citizens as partners. I am proud of the team of organizers, relationship we have and the fact that we are developing together. Thank you Iwona Nowak, Piotr Szmyt, Aleksandra Lechocka (and the whole Fundation of Positive Changes) and Wiola Hutniczak for building it with me. Last but not least, I am proud when I feel energy of the campaign and to see hope that we can bring a change.

What makes a good organizer?

There is no good answer to that question. For me good organizer should be a good listener and be able to gain trust of people. Should be brave, open minded and respectful. Sense of humour and self-distance is helpful.

What would be your advice to a young organizer?

Find someone or a group who does CO and meet with them regularly to consult, support each other and learn together. At the beginning of my work I was alone for more than one year and now I see how great it is to be part of a team.

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