OPEN FORUM: new technologies for the improvement of social capital. Better society, better democracy, better politics.

What problem are you solving?:

Poland has been living in a democracy for 20 years. Still, we have a feeling that democracy is more about procedures and images, not a real experience. Research and everyday practice show that Poles do not trust one another, are often unable to cooperate, and do not appreciate success. In many Polish regions and in Warsaw – which has become a melting pot – social capital is weak.
However, we do not take this as a “must be”. We strongly believe that we can change our country to make it a more attractive place to live and give our democracy a true meaning. Most of us come from minority groups, such as the LGBTQ community, but we want to bring about social change not only for the most discriminated, but for everyone. So often were we working on improving democracy as a mechanism, now we want to strengthen its virtues: cooperation, acceptance, trust.

Describe your idea:

We envisaged a multi-task, interactive, technically advanced website which would offer:
1. An online “living library”: a place where people can meet and learn each from another. This tool can raise awareness of diversity – a key point for improvement of social capital. We want to propose one our own “living book” every month, but we encourage every readerto become a “book”: present his/her story by video and audio podcasts, texts and chats.
2. An e-learning tool for a general public, as well as for leaders of social change. It will offer regular courses (with group video chat learning sessions, etc) to improve the skills and abilities which we think are key to social change and social capital improvement.
We want to develop as well our existing e-magazine to make it more interactive and develop further e-publications on social change and social capital improvement.

What country will this operate in?: Poland

Who are you?:

Our group met in 2004 when we started our online magazine Then, we focused on LBGTQ issues wanting to promote community identity and culture. With time, we started to focus on the factors making society and democracy in Poland imperfect. We asked: What are the factors that drive intolerance directed at the LGBT people and others?, What weakens the quality of links in the society? This led us to the idea of openness and social capital. In 2008, we set up an NGO dealing with publications and trainings. A group of app. 20 people from 20 to 55 y.o. from the whole Poland, we represent different backgrounds. We work in 2 teams, one dedicated to publications, the other one to trainings. Our trainers, with their large experience confirmed by diplomas, will manage the e-learning component, the “publishers” group will assure the living library to be a crowded place!