“Only cooperation can save the world”. They summarize the project

From left: Jacek Bożek, Marek Piwowarski, Jarosław Klimaszewski, Zbigniew Wilczek and Agata Smalcerz & middot photo UM Bielsko-Biała

During the conference, Klub Gaja and the project partners: the City of Bielsko-Biała, the Jewish Religious Community and Galeria Bielska BWA, as well as the project participants presented the activities and good practices of participatory processes in setting up two gardens – the Secret Garden on the wasteland of the Jewish cemetery and the space for artistic and educational activities in the garden Sixt villas.

As part of the Tree Day – Gardens for Climate project, carried out with a grant from the Active Citizens – National Fund program, funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway under the EEA grants, open project workshops were held with participation of residents, where the concept of the Secret Garden project and a shadow corner was jointly developed and artistic nesting boxes for birds in the garden of the historic villa Sixta Galeria Bielska BWA. Young people from Bielsko schools, as well as residents, were involved in the maintenance of the gardens. The community managers of the gardens participated in lessons on climate change and protection of biodiversity, history and traditions of these unusual and important places for the city, linked to specific works in the gardens, eg removing invasive species, planting plants and building nest boxes. Educational events for residents were also organized in the gardens.

The agreement between the City of Bielsko-Biała, the Jewish Religious Community in Bielsko-Biała and Klub Gaja regarding the implementation of the Secret Garden is a good example of cooperation in climate change adaptation and management of green areas with respect for natural and cultural heritage in a scope that is unique on a national scale – points to the town hall in Bielsko-Biała.

The boss of Klub Gaja talked about what the main result of the project is Jacek Bożek† The word collaboration to summarize the project in Sixt’s villa probably appeared most often in the collected statements.

The most important was the social process. Involve as many people as possible – Bielsko residents, young and old, so that they can participate in decisions about what the Secret Garden in particular, but also part of the environment of the Sixta villa should look like in the future – explained J. Bożek. † And it started thinking about how to connect all possible institutions, and at this point – the climate crisis, but also the global crisis, which we talked about very often and that has already started, has and will continue. And the only way out of the crisis, in my opinion, is cooperation beyond the dividing lines, in search of common ground. In this group where we are here, we have different opinions. And in spite of this we achieved enormous success, we were constantly looking for solutions and found them – he summed up.

The mayor of Bielsko-Biała also spoke about the value of the gardens created in the context of the climate crisis Jaroslaw Klimaszewskic† † Especially now, with a heat wave, we can hardly feel that climate change is actually happening. Most highly – we have one planet, we have nowhere to go. Everyone knows that something needs to be done about it and a lot is being done. However, is it enough? Probably not, but you have to – do your own thing. In Bielsko-Biała, in collaboration with Klub Gaja and municipal institutions, we do our work, because it is not the only tree-related project – we are talking about the Tree Day. And places like these two — at the Sixt villa and the Secret Garden in the unburied part of the Jewish cemetery — are other building blocks for combating the climate threat. Let’s do our job because no one will do it for us – said the chairman.

The director of Galeria Bielska BWA, the host of Villa Sixta, did not hide her joy about the project Agata Smallcerz† † I am pleased that the villa, a beautiful architectural object, fits in such a natural and natural environment. The garden surrounding the building also became more beautiful thanks to additional projects and the initiative to create a rose garden here – this location originated in the mind of an urban gardener. Later Klub Gaja projects appeared related to birdhouses, with additional trees being planted and water – we are already collecting rainwater here. The birdhouses that are hung here are probably a phenomenon on a global scale. The ornithologist who works with us shows them as exemplary examples – they have different forms and their function is preserved – A. Smalcerz shared her observations.

The conference was also attended by a landscape architect, moderator of the Tajemniczy Ogród Marek Piwowarski design workshop. † Everything is in this project. This is amazing. There are religions, and art, and young and old, and conflict and violence, and there was aggression in a sense, and there’s the issue of climate protection and this extraordinary nature. There are both protected and invasive species in one area, in such a lens. We participated in a model-driven social process and the aim was to involve residents, not only residents, but also key stakeholders in the creation and ownership of this project. The fact that the president is with us, representatives of municipal institutions and the great responsibility they have taken on are the greatest success of the association and the respect for the city. In the words of the president, let’s do our job! – said Piwowarski.

The phenomenon of the secret garden was introduced to the public by an expert in this place and a friend of Klub Gaja, a biologist from the University of Silesia in Katowice, an expert of the Mysterious Garden design workshops Zbigniew Wilczek

It turns out that in this small area of ​​more than a hectare we have a hundred species of vascular plants, we have protected plants, plants that are endangered in the Silesia Voivodeship, but we also have plants that threaten biodiversity itself – namely invasive species. This place is also great for environmental education, it is a place for people who want to learn something. You can especially learn the problem of the 21st century, namely invasive species. At the end of 2021, the Alien Species Act came out, requiring the eradication of these species, and we started it with young people in the Secret Garden. This process is lengthy and during the lessons it is possible to pick up the knotweed and thus contribute to biodiversity. Another problem is the problem of global warming, mainly related to the excessive amount of carbon dioxide. One hectare of greenery, or rather a forest, absorbs about 40 tons of carbon dioxide annually, but it must be a specific forest and there is one – in the secret garden. Fast-growing species should grow in such a place, there should be a varied structure, well-developed undergrowth and this forest meets these conditions – said Wilczek. † Besides, it is possible to observe different kinds of fauna, especially birds – added.

The direct activities related to the Secret Garden will be aimed at raising funds to prepare design documentation for this site, which will later be handed over to the city.

It may all take a little longer, but let it follow its own rhythm – said J. Bożek. † In order not to harm nature. Slow it down, but let everyone, or at least most of them, say – ok, this is closer to my heart. I think we’ll make it then – he summed up.

At the conclusion of the conference, Agnieszka Sobol of the Institute of Environmental Protection, National Research Institute, gave a talk entitled Vitamin N as the Future of Cities, and the film Gardens for Climate was also screened.

source: UM Bielsko-Biała

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