Can a new celebration bring social change? The phenomenon of new street festivals in Poland
Institute of Sociology University of Lodz Lodz, Poland
Polish people are not used to collective celebrations involving all neighborhood, rather limiting themselves to family and friends or workplace celebrations. The street live is not so vibrant here as in Mediterranean Europe due to many factors including the cold climate and subjective sensation of insecurity.
However, the author with his colleagues from the Foundation for the Living Culture introduced a street festival in Lodz, Poland in the street notorious for illegal alcohol trade and petty criminality. This "Sun rises in Wschodnia" festivity brought a new life to the Wschodnia street with philharmonics musicians playing violin in old run-down buildings, action painting, cinema shows, concerts, wall decoration, parade. The children dressed themselves for the parade and participated in workshops of art, music and street theatre.
Thanks to evaluation study, it is evident that the community changed its way of looking at the street thanks to the festival. As one representative noted "I have lived there 50 years and so far did not see anything special here. Now I am proud of living here". The celebration was an impulse for new local community projects to emerge, like the recycled garden. The Wschodnia festival set a trend in the city inspiring other street´s inhabitants to start their local festivals. People are more eager to visit this street which opens perspectives for its development. However, the goal of Foundation of offering sober ways of celebration is not fully reached as significant amount of local people prefer to get drunk at home before joining the feast.
The author will outline the concept, history of festival and its evaluation made by the local people studying the mutual interactions. The text will focus on a possibility of using street festival as a factor of social change and community revival. It will also deal with the meaning and social impact of other street festivals in Europe.