GB No. 2(13)/94
On April 23,1994, Club Gaja launched the Teraz Wisła [Vistula Now, a takeoff on the "Teraz Polska" slogan used to indicate quality Polish products] Campaign as part of Earth Day activities throughout Poland. The Teraz Wisła campaign objective is to develop community awareness and to promote the democratic empowerment of people as a means of preventing further industrial development of the Wisła River. The Polish government has put forth a proposal to build seven dams and an east-to-west waterway, which would destroy the natural flow of the Wisła river, disturb sensitive ecosystems, and increase the risk of serious flooding.
During Earth Day festivities in Warsaw, Club Gaja spoke on national television to officially begin the campaign to protect the last wild major river in Europe from further development. At the same time in Kraków, Grudziądz, Toruń, and Gdańsk, other environmental organizations that have expressed a strong interest in cooperating with Club Gaja participated in Teraz Wisła Earth Day activities. The goal was to reach as many people throughout Poland as possible and to inform them of the campaign to protect the Wisła River.
The campaign is designed to promote democratic empowerment. Club Gaja believes that to successfully change the current social and political situation in Poland and to move toward a more favorable environmental policy, the people of Poland must learn to use their democratic voice. In order to accomplish this goal, Club Gaja has outlined four major integrated elements:
The first step is to develop strong cooperating relationships with environmental NGOs that are geographically located near sites that are threatened by proposed dam and canal development. In this way, Club Gaja will be able to have taskforces throughout Poland, ready to launch specific campaigns when needed. A major area of assignment will be letter writing and petition gathering.
Another important aspect of the Teraz Wisła Campaign is the membership drive. Members can act as an excellent source of funds outside of grants, although at this time (because of the poor economic situation in Poland) the amount of money raised from membership may be very small. But more importantly, Club Gaja will become one of the first environmental organizations in Poland to launch a membership drive.
The Way of Gaja's Warrior Workshop is also an important element of the Teraz Wisła Campaign. The Workshop will provide training on democratic empowerment for members of the community, to be held in schools and local cultural centers. In addition, more specific workshops will be organized as part of Club Gaja's cooperative measures in helping to provide training for environmental NGOs.
Finally, all of these elements will be incorporated into the Public and Cultural Awareness campaign. People must be informed and feel empowered to voice their opinion. Press conferences will be held during all parts of the campaign. The public awareness campaign will reach a high point during a March Along the Wisła, planned for next year. Each community along the Wisła River will have the opportunity to participate in public activities to demonstrate the need to protect the Wisła River.
All of these elements are integrated to help promote agents of change for future democratic initiatives to protect the Wisła River. Democracy is not a right -- it is a responsibility that goes beyond voting. Club Gaja will promote a democracy of knowledge, the empowerment to speak out, and the confidence to ask inquiring questions. In this way Club Gaja will empower the people of Poland to protect their own wild river, and pave the way for further efforts to clean up toxic waste and community refuse discharge.
P.O.Box 261, 43-301 Bielsko-Biała