The exchange project was realised with financial support from the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Warsaw (PL/MATRA-KAP/1999/02) and the "Youth for Europe" Programme (YFE: A.1-PL-12-98-R3).

Summary

The project "Young City Cyclists in the Netherlands and Poland" was implemented with success. A group of 16 members of "Zielone Mazowsze" visited the Netherlands 6-14 February 1999, and, together with local environmental NGO Milieudefensie Groningen, realised the programme of meetings, discussions and observations in field. The visit increased our understanding of possible NGO involvement in life of local communities, as well as provided us with knowledge of environmental-friendly city transport solutions. We documented the project by means of a photo-exhibition with pictures from the visit (presented in several places in Warsaw), and a bulletin (distributed among secondary school students and visitors to the exhibition). The project boosted confidence in our work, gave us new ideas, and let some of the participants develop into new project leaders. It also helped us in contacts with Warsaw authorities and improved our image and credibility in the city.

Preparation

The group of participants met a few times before the visit in The Netherlands in order to prepare the programme and ourselves so that we gain most of the opportunity. We discussed what we already knew about the Netherlands, especially about conditions for cycling in cities and about NGOs work, we planned what we wanted to see, ask and learn, and what to present in out photo exhibition and bulletin afterwards. As one of our aims was to develop new leaders, we divided the responsibilities in the project so that everyone had their share in preparations, programme in the Netherlands and follow-up activities. We communicated with Milieudefensie via email, that way we could get to know each other before we met personally, we could discuss expectations, inform each other about new developments, and make group decisions when necessary.

Visit in the Netherlands

The visit in The Netherlands took place 6-14 February 1999. Most of the time we spent in Groningen, with one day trips to Amsterdam, The Hague and Delft. We met with representatives of local authorities as well as several non-governmental organisations, experienced cycling on Dutch cycling paths, acquired literature about planning and building cycling infrastructure (bike lanes, bicycle stalls and parking places, city transport policies). Some of the impressions can be read in the enclosed bulletin.

Day-to-day programme

Saturday 6 February
c. 11 arrival of the Polish group in Groningen
15-16 welcome lunch
16-18 introduction to Groningen - walk in the city
18-19 dinner
19-20.30 presentation of the groups and participants, presentation of the programme
night at houses of Milieudefensie members

Sunday 7 February 1999
8-9 breakfast
10-14 Cycle Tour "Groningen - city of bicycles" - pro-bicycle solutions in the city
14-15 lunch
15-18 individual and small group work, preparation for the evening
18-21 Dutch/Polish cultural evening, incl. introductory Dutch and Polish language lessons, traditional Polish food, Dutch and Polish songs and dances

Monday 8 February 1999
8-9 breakfast
10-14 meeting with Groningen City Hall representative responsible for city planning, presentation of Groningen development (maps, photographs, graphs); discussion about traffic, environment, and public participation policies; afterwards - walk in town, presentation of the pro-bicycle policy in reality
14-15 lunch
15-18 discussion on public participation in Groningen - presentation of Milieudefensie campaigns
18-19 dinner
20-22 meeting with Studenten Internationale Betrekkingen from Groningen University, discussions "Youth in Poland and The Netherlands and their attitudes - culture, environment, European Union"

Tuesday 9 February 1999
8-8.30 breakfast
9-13 visit to Provincie Groningen Office - regional development plan and traffic problems in the region; rapid tram project; programmes to persuade employers to promote cycling to work (presentation + answering questions)
14-15 lunch
15-18 time for preparation of exhibition and bulletin
18-19 dinner
19.30-20.30 discussion "For and Against Nuclear Energy"

Wednesday 10 February 1999
7-7.30 breakfast
8-10.30 travel by train to Amsterdam
11-14 walk in Amsterdam with Jac Wolters - including exhibition in Zuiderkerk
14-15 lunch at A SEED Europe office, presentation of A SEED campaigns
15.30-17.30 the IJburg development area
19-20 dinner
20.30-21.30 energy campaigns - discussion in WISE office
night in a youth hostel in Amsterdam

Thursday 11 February 1999
8-8.30 breakfast
9-10.30 train to The Hague
11-14 Local Agenda 21 in The Hague - meeting with the co-ordinators of the programme, bike excursion in the city (visiting Haags Milieucenter, seeing some of the projects of LA21)
14-15 lunch
15-18 continuation of bike excursion - through parks to Scheveningen
18-19 dinner
night in a hostel in Vlaardingen

Friday 12 February 1999
8-9 breakfast
9-10 travel to Delft by train
10-14 Delft - town of students, meeting with students
14-15 lunch
15.30-17 presentation of research on waste recycling - Delft University
17-19 dinner in De Korenbeurs
19.30-22 train to Groningen

Saturday 13 February 1999
8-9 breakfast
9.30-15 bike excursion outside Groningen
15-16 lunch
16-17 individual/group work
17-18 evaluation of the programme (games, discussion)
18-19 dinner
20-22 good-bye party

Sunday 14 February 1999
departure

Follow-up activities

After coming back to Poland we made a bulletin and a photo exhibition. We wanted to show the examples of good practice we saw in the Netherlands, which we thought could be also implemented in Poland.

The 8-pages bulletin has two versions: Polish, printed in colour, and English, copied, black and white. Most of the articles were written together by Polish participants and members of Milieudefensie Groningen; for some other our Dutch friends helped us to collect the necessary data. The bulletins were distributed among high-school students in schools where we realised educational project and among visitors to the exhibition, sent to local authorities in Warsaw and to the local media.

We have shown the photo exhibition in Warsaw Cultural Centre (WOK), secondary schools (SOS and Mickiewicz), Palace of Culture and Science, Earth Day festival, Linguistic Faculty of Warsaw University, "Praffdata" pub, Rembertów District Office, Ursynow Art Centre (Dom Sztuki). Information about the exhibition and our visit to the Netherlands was in most of local media and the bicycle ride opening the exhibition on a few TV channels. The Ursynow District Office printed related posters and helped with organisation of the exhibition; the mayor of the district was present at the opening of the exhibition.

As in March our group had an educational project - workshops about transport and environment in secondary schools in Warsaw - we also presented our experiences there.