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City Visits: Exploring Gdańsk’s Democratic Spirit

Last week, we began our City Visits, which are essential in evaluating a city’s potential to become the European Capital of Democracy 2024/25. First up was Gdańsk, where our city network manager Martina Fürrutter was joined by two members of the Experts’ Jury, Sanja Bojanic and Bruno Kaufmann.

Our visit to Gdańsk on September 27 was marked by a series of significant engagements aimed at understanding and appreciating the city’s democratic ethos.

The morning started with a coffee with Prof. Jakob Potulski at the Central Hotel Gdańsk, which set the tone for the day: we exchanged thoughts on the importance of civic engagement and democratic values in contemporary society. 

Our visit to the European Solidarity Centre was a poignant reminder of the city’s historical significance in the democratic landscape. Here, we met the minds behind the “Solidarity Everyday” project and explored an insightful exhibition that showcased the indomitable spirit of the Solidarity movement. It offered a valuable perspective on how Gdańsk’s history is intertwined with the pursuit of democracy. The day continued with a meeting with representatives from various civil society organizations. Their dedication to promoting democratic ideals and fostering civic engagement in the community was evident and inspiring. It shed light on the vital role of these organizations in shaping the city’s democratic fabric.

Our delegation also had the unique opportunity to participate in a civics lesson for young people led by Mayor Aleksandra Dulkiewicz. Additionally, meetings with city councillors at the City Hall and a visit to the Dolna Brama Civic Hub broadened our perspective on the various facets of Gdańsk’s democratic initiatives. A sumptuous lunch at the Dolna Brama Civic Hub was followed by presentations on the Green Civic Budget and the Youth City Council, highlighting the city’s commitment to innovative democratic practices.

“Democracy in Gdańsk is not a slogan. It is an unceasing task of being a citizen, a citizen who is involved. It is thinking of our city as a common good and planning its future on human rights, social inclusion and equal treatment. It is openness to newcomers, co-creation of innovations strengthening democracy and empowering people.”

– Mayor Aleksandra Dulkiewicz

As the day progressed, we engaged in an enlightening online meeting with journalist Katarzyna Włodkowska. She provided valuable insights into the role of media in shaping public discourse and its significance in upholding democratic values.

Our eventful day culminated in a team dinner where we continued our discussions, solidifying the connections that underpin our journey. Our visit to Gdańsk provided a firsthand glimpse into a city deeply committed to democratic principles. From historical landmarks to contemporary initiatives, Gdańsk serves as an inspiring example of how democracy can thrive when embraced and nurtured by its citizens. Stay tuned for more insights and stories from our exploration of Gdańsk’s democratic legacy.

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