GB No. 4, spring 1991


"I prefer to be..." ("Wolę być...") is the name of an informal, grassroots movement working for peace and ecology. It started in the summer of 1984 when the Polish youth magazine "Na przełaj" published a special issue devoted to environmental protection (issues on human rights and peace followed). In this time it was very difficult to officially publish texts about ecological problems in Poland. It was probably the first legal, popular news about the ecological catastrophe in our counrty. The readers responded by sending many letters. The magazine editors organized a meeting to which both readers and scientists were invited. Having learnt that the ecological situation in Poland was much more dangerous than they thought, the young participants in this meeting decided to try to do something, at least to prevent further decline. They avoided creating a highly-structured formal organization with too many rules.

Over 2000 people have taken part in various actions and meetings, while many more have supported its work, but the number of people active in the movement is much smaller.

"I prefer to be..." became a network of local and regional task groups. People come to the movement motivated by moral concerns and there is no one universal ideological point of view. Since there are no formal leaders and no hierarchical structure, individual responsibility, shared deep ecological consciousness, and non- violence in each individual's lifestyle and in the strategies of the movement prevail.

So far the participants of "I prefer to be..." have had many more failures and negative experiences than success in their activities; still, some things have been possible, although not as much as was planned. Perhaps the existence of an informal movement in the authoritarian political environment in Poland, just staying alive and cooperating with both formal and informal peace and ecology organizations - may be treated as a huge success. Recent political changes in Poland have been like a vitamin injection, with many new people joining the movement. However it is difficult for the old participants to help newcomers transform their thinking and behavior to nonviolence and ecological consciousness.

"I prefer to be...", as one of the first in Poland, went into the street to shout about the tragic ecological situation in our country. It tried to make passers-by realize that, in spite of economical and political problems, they have to face another, perhaps more dangerous, menace. We began to visit factories polluting the environment, distributing leaflets, and talking to workers and managers to make them understand the ecological viewpoint. Here are some examples of our actions:

Perhaps the biggest difficulty is the growing number of people who join the movement not because they are ecologically concious, but because they are lonely and have no other place to go where they feel free and accepted. Even so, this is a valuble responsibility for us.

"I prefer to be..." publishes two newsletters: The alternative monthly "Wolę być" and the irregular ecological "Ekopuk".

Future options:

Our address:

Ruch "Wolę być..."
Konopnickiej 6
00-950 Warszawa
tel. 283332
fax (482) 69 42 464 NFOS - WOLE BYC

GB No. 4, spring 1991 | Contents