GB No. 3(18)/95
"The Way of Gaja's Warrior," is the project on ecology and social education contrived by Jacek Bozek. The project was inspired from spirituality, psychology and the social activity originated from the 1970's. It is connected with theatre (Laboratorium - Jerzy Grotowski), and communities life, based on non-violence to all beings.
The roots of "The Way of Gaja's Warrior" can be found in the texts of Chögyam Trungpa, especially in "Shambala - Sanctified Path of Warrior," novels by Herman Hesse, and activities of ecologists - Joanna Macy and John Seed.
In 1988 the Gaja Club began as a small environmental group, helping to forge the path for the environmental movement in Poland. Since that time, the Gaja Club has taken on many different projects. Each project focuses on Klub Gaja's goal of environmental awareness through public education and organising actions to address specific environmental issues.
Each of the Gaja Club's projects are connected by a common environmental issue that the Gaja Club has identified as an important need for environmental protection in Poland. That common environmental topic is the Wisła river basin. The Gaja Club conducts five separate projects: Teraz Wisła, Publications, Animal Rights, Local Activities, and the Way of Gaja's Warrior Workshop. This book addresses in detail many activities and philosophies of the Way of Gaja's Warrior; we would like to briefly describe our other projects. It is important to show how the other projects complement each other and the Way of Gaja's Warrior project integrates with the other projects. It is important to understand what are the activities of Klub Gaja, to show what is Klub Gaja and what it is that we do.
For many the Gaja Club years worked outside of its home city - Bielsko-Biała, through our educational and training activities of the Way of Gaja's Warrior Workshop. During two years of travel and work in many cities all over Poland, these workshops helped to identify the need for a national campaign to help bring concrete cooperative opportunities for the many environmental and ecological NGOs working in the Wisła river basin. Teraz Wisła Publications, Animal Rights and Local Activities, each have an individual place in the Gaja Club. A decision was made in December 1994, as we developed strategy plans for Teraz Wisła, that the Gaja Club's other projects were imperative for our group, and that the work for Teraz Wisła needed to incorporate these other projects.
On April 23, 1994 - The Gaja Club from the Earth Day Warsaw, appeared in the National Television to officially begin a campaign to protect the Wisła river, one of the last wild rivers in Europe. The Teraz Wisła Campaign covers the entire Wisła River Basin. The aims for Teraz Wisła Campaign are improving of the water quality, enhancing of the efficiency of water usage, and protecting of the biodiverisity and the cultural values. The method to achieve our goals is activation of the local communities. By linking people to the watershed, the Gaja Club will increase peoples activities for management of the river basin from a river-basin perspective. Five points integrate with Teraz Wisła's long term goals:
For the last 45 years the Wisła River Basin has acted as the back yard to industrial growth. During these 45 little investment or judgement was applied towards managing the resources of the river basin in a manner that would protect its ecological and cultural values and to sustain its resources for future generations. The Wisła River Basin is under a great threat. The time has arrived for the people of Poland and the World to act diligently to restore its natural values and find sustainable means to act with its resources. Ecological deterioration, a poor economy and lack of knowledge have all created the problem.
In the last 50 years the Wisła River Basin has been under extensive environmental deterioration. Direct untreated waste water is dumped into the Wisła River and its tributaries every day. Untreated waste water comes from residential homes, factories and agricultural development. Warsaw is the only capital in Europe not to have a modern waste water treatment facility. Warsaw treats less than 30% of its waste water. In the last 45 years industry has brought piped water to many smaller communities. Piped water in place of wells has increased the daily usage of water. Small villages that depended on local wells, now use public water systems. The direct result, large amounts of waste water.
Increased population has lead to an increase demand of agricultural goods. One of the methods to increase farm production has been use of fertilisers and pesticides. Rain water run off collects the toxins often found in agricultural chemicals. These toxins have increased the pollution level in the Wisła River Basin.
No small local community water reservoirs exist in the Wisła River Basin. The Polish government has proposed to construct seven dams for use of large water reservoirs and public electric utilities. Construction of these dams would permanently destroy large parts of the Wisła river which still flows in its wild nature way. Biodiversity would be greatly reduced. Between Warsaw and Sandomierz where the San river joins with the Wisła is a very important ecological area for many species, particularly a stopping ground for migrating birds. Nature Conservation must be understood and implemented to protect the Wisła River Basin's sensitive ecology.
The communist regime of the last 45 year has left Poland weak to compete, and its economy is far behind commercial competitiveness. This may very well be a blessing in disguise. This economic negligence has resulted in outmoded infrastructure throughout the country. Poland's opportunity is to begin redeveloping its infrastructure in a manner that will sustain its natural resources. This process requires competent economic and developmental decisions to work with Poland's small hard capital.
Outdated infrastructure has resulted in inefficient usage of energy and resources. Industries and communities waste energy every day, forcing Poland to search for alternative energy sources. Investing in energy efficiency techniques will easily save Poland precious energy sources. Old water systems, again in both community homes and industry - waste large amounts of clean water. Less usage of water means less energy needed to treat waste water.
Lack of resources for new investment can lead to wrong decisions based on afford ability. New proposals that incorporate business for environmental protection that show a reward for the future, will benefit the aims of the Teraz Wisła campaign.
There is little research being done to learn more about humans impact of the Wisła River Basin. Result, little in-country research to find suitable methods to protect the Wisła's biodiversity, wild nature, ecology and cultural values. This knowledge would be helpful for decision makers regarding future industrial development of the river basin.
Need to increase citizens comprehension of the Wisła River Basin: What is the Wisła river basin, Why is it important, How does the river basin integrate with citizens' lives and resources, and what can we do to restore, manage and live sustainable with the Wisła River Basin? These questions proposed to citizens will act as an imperative part to empower people. Without knowledge as to why something is important, there is little motivation to act.
Currently the Gaja Club prints many materials to support our goal to bring higher awareness of specific environmental issues to the public and those working on environmental campaigns in Poland. Two years ago the Gaja Club published two quarterly magazines. We found that to distribute our magazines effectively it would be more efficient to combine the two magazines "Gaja" and "Common Feelings" into one magazine "Gaja Quarterly." We have found this be to very helpful and our readers are pleased to have both publications together. "Gaja Quarterly" is printed four times a year, and distributed throughout Poland.
In each quarterly magazine are articles about Gaja's Warrior, interviews with spiritual leaders and comments about the workshop. Included in each addition are articles about environmental issues, updates on the Teraz Wisła campaign, a section about animal rights, information about environmental alternatives, and information about local activities of the Gaja Club.
In addition to our quarterly magazine the Gaja Club has published two books, the latest one is "The Way of Gaja's Warrior." Presently we are finishing our third book on Animal Rights. In 1995, the Gaja Club is going to publish, "Anthology of Animal Rights." It will be the first Polish book on this subject. It will include comprehensive information about problems, such as: vivisectionism, fur--corporations, fur-trade, slaughter-houses, and wholesale raising of animals.
As part of the Teraz Wisła campaign, every month, the Gaja Club prints the Wisła Fax, a short leaflet on current issues facing the Wisła River Basin and activities of Teraz Wisła. When needed the Gaja Club will print special fact sheets that provide information about specific local activities. In the past we have printed information concerning metropolitan recycling programs, and information about the dangers of incinerators.
Publication is a separate project, but it accompanies all the projects of Klub Gaja.
The Gaja Club's first activities focused on the issues of Animal Rights. The Gaja Club took part in and organized information actions against natural furs, vivisectionism, and bull fights. The Gaja Club prepared and presented an exhibition, "Why?- Animal's Place in our Culture," dedicated towards protection of animal rights. The exhibition travelled to many cities and thousands of people came to participate. In 1991 and 1992 the first two - All Polish Congresses were devoted to animal rights, vegetarianism, and ecology.
One of the early successes of the Gaja Club came from the first animal rights campaign to prohibit wild animals presence in the Polish Circus. Bielsko-Biała became the first city in Poland and in Central/Eastern Europe to exclude wild animals from any circus that comes to our city.
In 1992 we organized in Warsaw, "The International Day for Laboratory Animals." Together with local government we manage the educational campaign, "An Animal Is Not a Thing" devoted to protection of animal rights.
From our yearly congress and our frequent actions around Poland, the Gaja Club has been one of the leaders of Animal Rights movement in Poland. Just last year, Klub Gaja helped to initiate the All Poland Anti-Fur Day. These meetings to organize the national campaign originated from the Forth All Polish Congress - 1994.
Animal Rights has also had a considerable influence being strongly connected with the Polish media. For two years we were invited as special guests to the national television program, "Animals."
In March 1989, Jacek Bożek and the Gaja Club partook in ecological actions, the first of this kind in Bielsko-Biała. The city council had plans to build a new bank in the center of the city. Building this bank would result in five of some of the oldest trees in the city's center to be cut down. Jacek Bożek, climbed up one of these five trees and refused to come down until a decision was made. From the tree he explained to people who watched him the importance of environmental protection. This was the first direct action of this kind for the environmental movement in Poland. Though he was unable to save all the five trees, two of them still stand today.
April 1990 the Gaja Club organized the first Earth Day events since 1970. The Gaja Club has been in charge of Earth Day activities every year since in Bielsko-Biała.
Local campaigns are important aspect of the Gaja Club. Even though many activities of the Gaja Club takes us all over Poland and sometimes abroad, keeping contact with our local communities is an important component to our goals. A year ago, the Gaja Club was the NGO representative in the Bielsko-Biała's Environmental Commission.
Recently Klub Gaja has helped to promote recycling in our city, and has been successful in developing strategy plans for the future development of bicycle roads (80 kilometers).
Last year, some bad news reached our office. The Gaja Club had just learned that the city council had plans to purchase an incinerator to dispose of its old tires. The incinerator was over twenty years old and would burn at 400°C. After a direct action and many long meetings the Gaja Club was able to influence a decision not to burn tires but to find better alternatives.
As part of our local activities, the Gaja Club plays an important part in the local media. Often we are able to give information about upcoming local events in local news papers. Every Tuesday at 5PM the Gaja Club has an hour on Radio Delta, helping to trigger interesting discussions on environmental issues.
1988-1991 The ecological organization "KLUB GAJA" (the Gaja Club )was founded in 1988 - Bielsko-Biała by Jacek Bożek, now acting President. The Gaja Club was founded on the principles of Deep Ecology taken from the teachings of John Seed - Australia. Jacek Bożek's close relationship to John Seed helped initiate the Gaja Club's early activities. Members of the Gaja Club learned about many of the environmental and ecological issues that face Poland and the World by participating in a diverse set of activities. The early activities of the Gaja Club included animal rights, vegetarianism, and direct actions to protect forests near and in Bielsko-Biała.
Learning about the environmental movement, the Gaja Club participated in cooperative efforts with other NGOs in Poland and Europe in a variety of campaigns including: "Tama Tamie," a campaign to oppose the construction of Czorsztyn Dam; an All Polish Anti-Nuclear Power Campaign; actions to prevent Bull Fighting from entering Poland; and the All European campaign cooperating with the European Youth Forest Action to educate people about public and automobile transportation and it's effect on our environment.
1991 the Gaja Club lead a successful campaign to exclude wild animals from the Polish Circus. As a result, Bielsko-Biała was the first city in Central Europe to prohibit the participation of wild animals in any circus that comes to Bielsko-Biała. Two years later when a Shark Show came to Bielsko-Biała; City Council decided not to host an entertainment show that exploited wild animals.
In the same year the Gaja Club began to focus more on developing an effective educational workshop to help empower people and NGOs around Poland. The first exhibition, "Why" was lead by the Gaja Club. During the next two years Jacek Bożek and Wojtek Owczarz had the opportunity through active participation to learn about developing training, self motivating, and educational workshops. Their work lead to a final product, "The Way of Gaja's Warrior" - workshop.
1992 The Gaja Club was registered in Bielsko-Biała as "Ecological Culture Association - the Gaja Club". During this year much energy was spent for renovating their new office. Activities included refining the Way of Gaja's Warrior Workshop, Publication of Gaja Quarterly and Common Feelings, and Special events - Earth Day and All Polish Congress.
Benjamin Burg, Peace Corps Volunteer began his work to assist in office management techniques and campaign development strategy.
1993 The Gaja Club began local projects to promote bicycle roads and public education about recycling. The Gaja Club's most successful local project, was to convince the City Council not to purchase an old tire incinerator but look into tire recycling as a possible future solution. This project showed how to use skills in technical research.
1994 In 1994 the Gaja Club management decided to focus all activities on one critical environmental issue - a campaign working with the Vistula river basin.
The Vistula river is polluted and threatened by further dam development. The Gaja Club wanted to raise a public awareness and seek possible solutions to protect the Vistula river, because no other group in Poland came forward to do so. Research into possible campaign strategies began in the late 1993 and the early monts of 1994 (grant from EPCE). During the Third All Polish Congress held in September 1993 formal discussion were organized around a preparation of the "Teraz Wisła" campaign. Also the first address list of people interested in the campaign was completed.
The Gaja Club organized the Earth Day under the banner of "Teraz Wisła," coordinated from Gdansk, Grudziądz, and Krakow. From Earth Day Warsaw, Jacek Bożek participated in a live program on Polish TV2, to launch the first national environmental campaign TERAZ WISŁA. Also during Earth Day, the Polish program, "Animals" devoted time to announce the campaign.
Jacek Bożek was invited by the Environmental Partnership for Central Europe to participate in the River Basin Management Fellowship. This program concerned different aspects of work with river basin management. The final result of the program was a decision to create the Central and Eastern Europe River Basin Network.
During this conference workshops dedicated to Teraz Wisła" took place. Radosław Tendera and Wojciech Owczarz facilitated workshops outlining methods to raise resources using the "Teraz Wisła" campaign as an example.
During the summer of 1994 members of the Gaja Club drove along the Vistula river and organized meetings with local authorities, ecological groups and members of the media. The focus was to introduce the "Teraz Wisła" campaign and proposals for the next year's Third All Polish Track. During this peregrination a photo documentary was made. Informational materials and addresses of people interested in the campaign were collected. Cities included were: Kraków, Opatowiec, Kazimierz, Sandomierz, Warszawa, Płock, Włocławek, Ciechocinek, Toruń, Tczew, and Gdańsk.
The majority of activities were dedicated to the campaign "Teraz Wisła" and The Third All Polish Track in developing long term strategy plans for the campaign. U.S. teacher from the 1994 River Basin Management Fellowship, Steve Leitman, gave lectures and met with the Gaja Club to discuss important aspects of successful campaigning skills.
The Gaja Club organized the action "Clean Tributaries - Clean Vistula" under the auspices of the voivodship, the President and the Chairman of the City Council of Bielsko-Biała. The day consisted of cleaning up a part of Vistula tributary - the river Biała and informing the local press. The Gaja Club also cooperated with the City Council coordinating the local activities.
In ecological quarterly "Gaja" have been published materials referred to the campaign "Teraz Wisła". The Gaja Club has also decided that such insert is going to be published in every quarterly issue, with more information and articles about the campaign, interviews, elaborations, and photo reports.
The Gaja Club has started to publish a monthly informational bulletin. Six issues have been published already. The "Wisła Fax" bulletin is drafted in a very clear graphic form and printed on recycled paper. Every month it provides organizations and persons interested in the campaign with information about the action.
The Strategy Advisory Committee has been created to assist in technical review of campaign strategy.
Bydgoszcz, Technical Conference on the Proposed Seven Dam Cascade, 1994. Foundation for the Vistula Cascade makes presentation in favor of the cascades. It begins research of Environmental Assessment Statement to be made available to Environmental NGOs.
Warsaw, Institute of Environmental Protection, Feb. 22, 1995. Heated discussion about policies concerning the future of the Wisła River Basin. A petition was signed by most of the participants and sent to the Polish Prime Minister.
Agreement to begin independent Environmental Assessment Statement of Vistula River Basin, to be made available to Klub Gaja and Environmental NGOs.
Sandomierz, "Pro-Vita." It begins a campaign to protect the landscape in Góry Pieprzowe.
Lublin, "Ecological Office of Lublin." It begins a campaign to protect the landscape of Wieprz River (a part of the Wisła River Basin).
Grudziądz, "Klub Gaja" begins educational campaign about the Wisła River Basin.
Jacek Bożek, Benjamin Burg
reprinted from "Droga Wojownika Gai"
the Gaja Club
P.O. Box 261, 43-301 Bielsko-Biała