create the city
fot. Andrzej Szypulski
rozkrunem sietu Hajnouku!
INTEGRATION AND IDENTITY
For those who are not from Hajnówka, we translate: Come on, let’s start this Hajnówka! The local dialect is one of the most interesting distinguishing features of the city and an important element of the identity of its inhabitants. This sentence can be considered as the motto of the project “Hajnówka Renewal – Green Transformation”. In terms of social issues, a lot has to be “started” in the city. In Hajnówka, “human capital is not capital” is a painful statement made by one of the residents while conducting research for this project. It means that in the minds of the city dwellers, a man, his features and skills, is not treated as capital.
Let’s look at the numbers. In 2020, Hajnówka had 20,265 inhabitants. That is 2,090 people less than ten years earlier. There are fewer young people and the number of seniors is growing. According to forecasts, around 2040 there will be only one person of working age for three seniors. Young people do not see a future for themselves here and go to larger centers. Many of them do not come back, feeling no connection with the place where they grew up.
Some residents live in the past. They are often people, or their descendants, who were closely associated with the wood industry in the past. Currently, they mainly benefit from social benefits. As many as 900 families in Hajnówka depend on this kind of help. This is a problem that has been dealt with by various associations for years, but it is not done in the form of broader cooperation. The ideas and initiatives of local leaders did not build the snowball effect. There is a group of social activists in Hajnówka who are interested in the city’s development and they declare their support and commitment to the process of change. It also takes the initiative and organizes its own ventures. However, this is not enough to talk about a qualitative change in the city.
WE LOOK TO THE FUTURE
In order to build a new one, you have to cut yourself off from the old one. The Białowieża Primeval Forest should be left in the past as a supplier of raw materials and treated as a new quality, an element of identity. There are hundreds of poviat towns in Poland, but none is a “gateway to the Białowieża Forest”. However, not everything old should be forgotten. On the contrary, saving the city and people lies in the traditions and values that make this place unique.
The value is the location – on the edge of the forest, in the border zone, at the meeting point of Polish and Belarusian culture. Preschoolers from Hajnówka should learn to distinguish lime from oak, know lullabies in the local dialect and learn to build a hut in the forest. They should also know the local traditional products and know how to make local delicacies. They should know and cultivate the local tradition, but live in a modern poviat town.