For a number of years, Żory has been undergoing change due to economic, cultural, and return migration. Due to a rapidly growing economic zone and proximity of large urban centres, people from various parts of Poland and all over the world come to the city. As the number of new residents grows, so do cultural and language-related tensions and miscomprehension, and this is accompanied by fear and aggression. No measures have been taken to teach residents how to live in a multicultural community, or how to combat hate speech and discrimination towards new residents.
In the project, we created a space for young people, local community leaders, and immigrants to navigate a multicultural community. Twenty multicultural training sessions were held for 297 people: young people at lower-secondary school and local community leaders such as head teachers and teachers, government clerks, educators, people active in culture, and activists. We organised five civic coffee houses, at which the substantive issues were debated by representatives of public institutions, CSOs, and citizens of Żory, including new residents of foreign background. Working with residents, we presented a proposal for a legislative initiative to address Żory’s multiculturalism issues – creating the Intercultural Dialogue Council in the town. More than 300 people signed the proposal for the initiative. We created a website www.beetwencultures.eu, which was translated into Ukrainian and Russian, and the fan page @BetweenCulturesBetweenWords. Through our channels of communication, we announced not only the project measures, but also interesting intercultural events and initiatives.
The Project Partners – Żory Entrepreneurial Zone Association and the Żory Metropolitan Police – participated in all of the project measures, including organising and attending the training and the civic debate coffee houses.
Due to the involvement of both local leaders and pupils and immigrants, the project helped to create a community open to dialogue and cooperation in the city. The project website became a platform for information and communication for new residents of the city.