Hajnówka at spring networking workshops for cities Julia Szypulska March 4, 2024
Fot. Związek Miast Polskich

Hajnówka at spring networking workshops for cities

9 winner cities, 8 Empiria (7 thematic and one for leaders), i.e. networks for exchanging experiences. We attended spring networking workshops for cities, where we summarized the “Hajnówka ReNewal – Green Transformation” project.

Photo Association of Polish Cities

We faced a serious task, as each city had only three minutes to present. The project in a nutshell was presented by Ireneusz Kiendyś, deputy mayor of Hajnówka.

– I must admit that the e-mail with tasks to be completed for today's meeting and for the March Local Development Forum made me aware of the imminent end of the project. A project that was quite a challenge, but also a time to prove myself in the implementation of a wise, responsible and, as it turned out, difficult development policy based on strategic management. It wouldn't have been possible in Hajnówka if it weren't for the people.

Ireneusz Kiendyś

Photo Association of Polish Cities

The deputy mayor recalled the beginnings of the project. We wanted to put Hajnówka on a new development path, which assumes the renewal of the city in many key areas. Renewing the way of thinking about the development of a city that has lost important functions, renewing the perception of residents as active participants in the management process, renewing faith in the economic potential of local products other than wood, renewing forgotten traditions and revealing a beautiful multicultural identity, and finally renewing social involvement and activity.

We believe that we have managed to enter a new development path and we are in the process of achieving several goals:

  1. We build the city’s competitive position by using our internal resources.

  2. We are strengthening city-forming functions and, with the support of professionals, we are planning a new city layout, in particular the New Center of Hajnówka.

  3. We give the residents naturally valuable places, but after developing them in a way that does not harm nature and preserves biodiversity, we transfer plant species that live in synergy with the Białowieża Forest to urban spaces.

  4. We include and involve residents in decision-making, we unblock communication channels, although not yet with 100% success.

  5. We involve partners in the city’s development, consult joint actions and expect greater participation in the city’s reconstruction.

  6. We cultivate traditions and increase the awareness of young people and visitors about our identity and values that are important for multicultural places.

  7. We are open to ideas, we actively use the involvement of non-governmental organizations, we know better and better that places of local activity will not be run by an official, but by residents.

  8. We learn management based on data and evidence, we identify institutional deficits better and better, and we build the capacity of municipal institutions for efficient, forward-looking and strategic city management.

Photo Association of Polish Cities

There are still many challenges ahead of us, including how to maintain the positive effects of the project in the future.

The spring networking workshops, which took place last week, were attended by representatives of the cities-winners of the “Local Development” Program, representatives of the Ministry of Funds and Regional Policy and advisors from the Association of Polish Cities. We have summarized the effects of individual Empiria, i.e. networks of exchange of knowledge and experiences between cities. This is a unique undertaking of Association of Polish Cities.  The networks bring together representatives of cities that learn from each other and develop new solutions around specific issues that are key from the point of view of the development of small and medium-sized cities. Representatives of the Hajnówka City Hall participated in Empiria: Entrepreneurial City, Green City, City Resources – Finance and in the network for leaders.

Photo Association of Polish Cities

The result of the network’s work on city finances is a manual-guide for project management. It will help to organise and simplify many procedures, particularly thanks to the model documents that have been developed and can be downloaded. The result of Empiria’s work on human capital, in turn, is a survey to measure the satisfaction of city hall employees. It was developed in cooperation with experts and can be used to adapt it to the needs of a given municipality. As representatives of the winner cities of the Local Development Programme admit, with a well-constructed team it is possible to implement any project, even the most difficult one.

It is worth mentioning the surveys conducted among final-year students of secondary schools. A total of over 30,000 respondents took part, including students from Hajnówka.

Photo Association of Polish Cities

The research results are devastating. They expose all the problems and complexes of the school system in Poland.

Grzegorz Kaczmarek, expert of the Association of Polish Cities

We will write soon about what the research of Hajnówka students showed.

Empiries provide an opportunity to consult your activities with a wider group of specialists and experts. They provide the opportunity to look at the problem from a different perspective, as well as receive immediate feedback and assessment of the actions taken. They also allow for creative use of the experiences of other cities. Usually, they cannot be transferred one to one, but it is worth looking for ways to make the best use of them on your home soil. The spring workshops were the last such meeting under the “Local Development” Program.

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